When a hot hatch becomes a scorcher: see the Volkswagen Golf R400 prototype in the metal

When a high-performance vehicle begins the transformation process from concept to production car, they almost always end up at the same place. It’s called the Nurburgring; you may have heard of it.

Volkswagen’s Golf R400, which the brand’s Head of Powertrain Development confirmed was headed for production in April, is doing just that right now.

The scouts over at Autocar recently snapped some photos of the hot hatchback doing laps at the famed German circuit, which means the car is entering the final stages of its maturation. Look closely and you’ll notice bigger wheels, wider front and rear tracks, and a larger rear spoiler.

The powertrain layout for the R400 hasn’t been announced yet, but the spies in Germany reported the distinct song of a five-cylinder engine bellowing from the Golf’s four tailpipes. That contrasts with earlier predictions of an enhanced, Golf R-sourced 2.0-liter turbo, or perhaps some variant of the high-output four-cylinder from Audi’s TT quattro sport concept.

Volkswagen Golf R400 Concept

Volkswagen Golf R400 concept

There are many factors that shape exhaust tone, so this is far from a confirmation. It is an interesting development though, especially when you consider that the Europe-only Audi RS3 Sportback equips a 2.5-liter five-pot with 362 horsepower and 343 pound-feet of torque.

When the Golf R400 concept dropped at the 2014 Beijing Motor Show, Volkswagen said it would do 0 to 62 mph in 3.9 seconds and reach a top speed of 174 mph.

We drove the 292-hp Golf R earlier this year at the vehicle’s first drive event in Texas, and let’s just say it wasn’t exactly a chore to drive. We’re also continuing to bond with our long-term test car, the ongoing coverage of which you can check out right here.