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Cars Worth Noting: 2004 Volkswagen R32

2004 Volkswagen R32

The R32 just exudes the look that draws my tuner car loving sons — the classic German silver compact stretched down over its 18-in. Goodyear F1 tires (the same tires found on the Vette) tightly wrapped around 18-in. alloy wheels. The new front and rear facias and rocker panels come within mere inches of the pavement and the rear hatch spoiler adds to the effect. And lest you forget what you’re driving while squeezed into the Koenig sport buckets that are just a four-point harness away from race ready, everything from the leatherwrapped three-spoke steering wheel down to the embroidered floor mats sports the “R” logo.

But don’t be fooled by the tuner costume. The R32 is the epitome of the American muscle car. This little econobox doesn’t get its punch from some steroid-boosted turbocharged four-banger. Shoe-boxed neatly between the front struts is a 240 hp, 3.2L V-6 that’s hooked up to Volkswagen’s 4MOTION system sending that power to all four wheels. After all, that’s what muscle cars originally were, small mid-size or compact cars with big engines (think GTO. No, not the new one, the original one and you get the idea.)

As expected, the stiffly-sprung little performance car doesn’t ride like mom’s luxury SUV but then again, it handles a whole lot better than those muscle cars of years past.

As a matter of fact, mom took a test drive, though at 5 ft. 1 in. tall she found it necessary to slide the driver’s seat back so she could maneuver around the side bolsters while getting in.

While a $30,625 VW Golf may seem a little outrageous ($29,100 if you can live without leather seating surfaces), it does save you the trouble of trying to do it yourself. And this little Golf hauls more than butt. With the back seats down, there was plenty of room for five swimming pool chairs still in the boxes.

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