Volkswagen showed off its Golf R Cabriolet at the Los Angeles Auto Show last November, in one of the ultimate automotive teases. VW had taken the lid off its most powerful hot hatchback, but wouldn’t give any specifics about the Golf R’s capabilities. Now, we’re learning a bit more.
The Golf R is an enhanced version of VW’s evergreen GTI. Available as either a three or five-door hatchback, it has a 256 horsepower, 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-four. That power is fed to all four wheels through Volkswagen’s 4Motion all-wheel drive system. Add a convertible top to that, and you have a very unique machine.
In fact, the Golf R Cabriolet will have 261 hp, courtesy of the same turbocharged engine. However, it will be front-wheel drive only. That should compensate for some of the convertible’s extra weight, but it will also make the front tires’ job very difficult.
High-powered front-wheel drive cars often come with “torque steer,” where accelerative force tugs at the wheels, fighting the driver. The regular GTI is one of the best front-wheel drive chassis around, so it will be interesting to see what Volkswagen’s suspension wizards were able to do with the Golf R Cabriolet.
While the U.S.-spec Golf R hatchback comes standard with a six-speed manual transmission, the Golf R Cabriolet will get a six-speed DSG dual-clutch automatic.
The rest of the changes echo the Golf R hatch. The Cabriolet gets the same subtle exterior modifications, including an R Line grille, front diffuser, LED daytime running lights, and Xenon headlights. The wheels have a special “Talladega” design, and come in 18 or 19-inch sizes.
Other trim changes include gloss black side mirrors, brake calipers, and rear diffuser.
The interior features the same R Line sport seats, drilled aluminum pedals, and contrasting stitching. The electronic folding soft top takes 9.5 seconds to fold and 11 seconds to erect. Drivers can do this on the go at up to 18 mph.
The list of sporty convertibles without premium badges is pretty much limited to usual suspects like Mustang, Camaro, Miata, or 370Z. The Golf R Cabriolet could offer buyers another compelling choice.
However, fans of top-down performance driving will be disappointed to know that the Golf R Cabriolet will not be coming to the United States. Given the fact that Americans don’t even get the regular Golf Cabriolet (we have the Eos instead), that’s not surprising.
It might be just as well, though. In Europe, the Golf R Cabriolet is expected to cost $60,881, a shocking increase over the $36,515 price of a loaded five-door Golf R.