Volkswagen wants more high-performance R models — even electric ones

Volkswagen T Roc R
Ronan Glon/Digital Trends

Volkswagen introduced the 300-horsepower T-Roc R during the 2019 Geneva Auto Show. The high-performance SUV will not be sold in the United States, where the regular T-Roc isn’t available, but it signals the German company’s intent to expand its range of sports cars over the coming years. Digital Trends learned some of its future R-badged models could join the mighty Golf R on our side of the Atlantic.

“In the past, [the R brand] has been very focused on the Golf. It’s now expanding to other models of the range, so there is more to come in the near future,” revealed Volkswagen board member Jürgen Stackmann during a media round-table held on the sidelines of the Geneva show. He said the next-generation Golf R will be “great,” and added it will be joined by at least two additional models.

“We’ll talk more about them as soon as possible,” he promised. Asked whether they’ll appear in American showrooms, he replied that “one potentially could.” We’ll need to be patient to find out whether it will be based on the Jetta, the Tiguan, or the Arteon, the three most likely candidates to receive the R treatment. As much as we like the idea of a Passat with the heart and soul of a sports car, we don’t think we’ll see one anytime soon.

While American motorists like performance, Volkswagen is treading lightly as it adds more R-tuned models to its portfolio.

“The U.S. market is extremely price-sensitive when it comes to volume brands. The R concept adds four-wheel drive, a lot of technology, and a big engine. Put that into the American system, and it would take the price into premium territory. Premium prices are usually only paid for premium brands,” Stackmann explained. “I think there is demand, but the will to pay for this demand is quite limited.”

“There will be R in the electric world”

Looking further into the future, Stackmann said performance and electrification go hand in hand. “There will be R in the electric world,” he confirmed.

The record-setting, Batmobile-like ID R concept introduced in 2018 wasn’t merely a show car. Although it shares precious few parts with other ID-badged models, Stackmann stated “it’s a true works car built to find out what R can be in the electric world.” Making a high-performance electric car is relatively easy, he added, but developing one that delivers an acceptable amount of driving range is challenging.

The team in charge of the project is convinced it can crack the code as battery technology advances. If everything goes according to plan, we’ll see a zero-emissions, high-tech, high-performance Volkswagen sooner or later.

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