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2015 Volkswagen Golf R to Debut at Frankfurt Motor Show

Volkswagen has steadily introduced new variants of its redesigned Golf and GTI models, which go on sale as 2014 model-year vehicles in Europe and as a 2015 model-year vehicle in the United States. Now, in preparation for the 2013 Frankfurt Motor Show, VW has unwrapped the latest Golf variant--the flagship of the series--the all-new 2015 Volkswagen Golf R.

Visually, expected modifications to set the new Golf R apart include a restyled front end with larger air intakes, revised rear end with a diffuser panel and four chrome-tipped exhaust outlets, and lower-body side skirts. Matte-chrome mirror caps, bi-xenon headlights with LED running lights, dark red LED taillights, and several "R" badges also hint as to the performance awaiting the driver, and the Golf R rides on standard 18-inch aluminum wheels wearing 225/40 performance-oriented tires. Optionally, the Golf R is available with 19-inch aluminum wheels.

Pop the hood to find a new turbocharged, 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine. More powerful and more fuel-efficient than before, this engine generates 296 horsepower at 5,500 rpm and 280 lb.-ft. of torque between 1,800 rpm and 5,500 rpm. A 6-speed manual transmission is standard, with a 6-speed Direct Shift Gearbox (DSG) dual-clutch automated manual offered as an option.

According to Volkswagen, the 2015 Golf R accelerates to 60 mph in about 5.2 seconds with the manual gearbox and in 4.8 seconds with the optional DSG. Top speed with either transmission is a governed 155 mph.

The new Golf R is equipped with a standard next-generation 4Motion all-wheel-drive system. To help conserve fuel, this version of 4Motion decouples the powertrain from the car's rear axle under relaxed driving conditions. When necessary, though, nearly 100% of the engine's power can be directed to the Golf R's rear wheels.

Additional fuel-saving measures include standard start/stop technology, which shuts the engine off when the car is idling in traffic or at an intersection, and a brake-energy regeneration system for the battery. All told, Volkswagen says the Golf R gets 18% better fuel economy than the vehicle it replaces. A standard Driving Profile Selector with an Eco driving mode assists in achieving those gains, but it also offers Normal, Individual, and Race settings. A Comfort mode is included when the car is fitted with the optional Dynamic Chassis Control (DCC) system.

Every 2015 Golf R is equipped with a sport suspension that positions the car even closer to the pavement than the GTI. Upgraded braking components include black calipers with an "R" logo stamped into them, and a new progressive variable-ratio steering system reduces effort when parking while delivering more direct response at speed. The Golf R's traction and stability control system includes an ESC Sport mode that provides a greater threshold before engagement, and the system can be completely deactivated for track driving. The Golf R is also equipped with a new version of its Cross-Differential Lock (XDS Plus) system, which now works as a transverse differential lock compensating for understeer during fast cornering.

Slip inside, and the driver finds front sport seats with black fabric inserts and gray Alcantara bolsters facing a sport steering wheel, unique R-style instrumentation, and Carbon Touch dashboard trim. The pedals offer the look of stainless steel, and the Golf R is equipped with ambient cabin lighting, illuminating doorsill plates, automatic climate control, and a touch-screen audio system. Choose one of the two optional infotainment systems, and the screen expands to 5.8 inches or 8 inches while gaining proximity-sensing technology. Premium leather upholstery is also an option for the new Golf R.

Volkswagen has not announced pricing, final specifications, or an on-sale date for Golf R models bound for the United States as this article is written.

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