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The North American International Auto Show will see the U.

S. debut of the latest Golf R, the most powerful version of the Golf ever to be sold in this market. With an estimated 290 horsepower, the new Golf R has 34 hp more than the previous version, which was sold as a 2013 model. Despite the additional horsepower, the new R model is expected to be considerably more fuel-efficient than its predecessor with a manufacturer estimated highway fuel economy rating of 31 mpg with the six-speed manual transmission, up from 27 mpg.

Like all three previous Golf R models, the new model transfers its turbocharged power to the road via a permanent all-wheel-drive system; in this case, the latest version of the 4MOTION® system with a fifth-generation Haldex® coupling. To ensure great chassis dynamics, there's a new sport suspension, the "progressive" variable-ratio steering system, and a stability control system ("ESC Sport") which can now be deactivated for track driving. Other highlights include the optional DCC dynamic chassis control system.

Equipped with a six-speed manual transmission, the Golf R will reach 62 mph from rest in 5.3 seconds, an improvement of 0.4 seconds over the old car; with the six-speed DSG® dual-clutch automatic transmission, the car completes the sprint in just 4.9 seconds.

The new Golf R is equipped with an extensive package of exclusive features. Along with specially designed bumpers, side skirts, and 18-inch aluminum-alloy wheels, the Golf R can also be visually distinguished from the GTI by details such as standard Bi-Xenon headlights with newly designed LED daytime running lights (in a dual-U design) and a two-branch exhaust system with four chrome tips. Inside, the Golf R underlines its position as the flagship of the model range with sport seats with leather seating surfaces, a leather-wrapped three-spoke sport steering wheel, ambient lighting, and R-specific instrumentation. The most powerful and fuel-efficient Golf R will be launched in the U.S. in the first quarter of 2015 in four-door form only.

High-tech turbocharged engine

The Golf R has an even more advanced version of the EA888 four-cylinder turbocharged and direct-injection TSI® 2.0-liter engine that's fitted to the new Golf GTI. The engineers boosted power to an estimated 290 hp, delivered at 5500 rpm, thus creating one of the most powerful four-cylinder production engines in the world. Maximum torque has been increased to 280 pound-feet, available over a broad speed band from 1800 to 5500 rpm. To attain this output, the Golf R model's 1984-cc engine was subjected to a motorsports-style development program. The following components were modified or completely redesigned compared to the GTI engine: the cylinder head (together with exhaust valves, valve seats, and springs), pistons, high-pressure injection system, and turbocharger.

The Golf R model's EA888 series engine has innovative engineering solutions such as water-cooled exhaust gas channels running through the cylinder head to the turbocharger (to help efficiently reduce full-load fuel consumption) and a dual injection system with direct and multi-port injection. Thanks to its new fully-electronic coolant control system, the Golf R TSI engine has much more efficient thermal management with a reduced warm-up phase that reduces frictional losses and fuel consumption. In addition, the TSI engine has variable valve timing on the intake and exhaust sides, as well as two-stage exhaust-valve lift. This helps enable optimal control of the charge exchange process for better performance, fuel economy, and lower emissions.

4MOTION all-wheel-drive system

The Golf R has always used 4MOTION permanent all-wheel drive. Using refinements such as the Haldex 5 coupling, the latest-generation 4MOTION system is activated before any wheelspin occurs, helping eliminate nearly all traction losses. The system achieves this by using an advanced control function based on specific driving conditions. When operating under a relatively low load or when coasting, the front wheels are driven and the rear wheels are decoupled, helping to save fuel. However, the rear wheels can be engaged in fractions of a second whenever necessary via the Haldex coupling, which is activated by an electro-hydraulic oil pump.

A control unit continually calculates the ideal drive torque for the rear wheels and controls how much the multi-plate clutch should be closed by activating the oil pump. The oil pressure increases the contact pressure at the clutch plates in proportion to the torque desired at the rear axle. So, the amount of pressure applied to the clutch plates can be used to continuously vary the amount of torque going between the front and rear wheels. If necessary, nearly 100 per cent of the drive torque can be directed to the rear wheels.

In addition to the Haldex coupling that acts longitudinally, four electronic differential locks (EDS) that are a function of the electronic stability control system act laterally. The system briefly brakes a wheel that is slipping, enabling uninterrupted and stable transfer of drive power to the wheel on the opposite side.

In addition, the Golf R is equipped with the XDS® cross differential lock at the front and rear. The latest version, known as XDS+, applies this functionality to a larger range of dynamic performance, helping make the vehicle more agile. When the car is being driven at highway speeds, brake pressure is applied to the inside wheel to help restore optimal traction as soon as the electronics detect excessively light loads. XDS+ thereby operates like a limited-slip differential and thus compensates for understeer during faster cornering.

The new Golf R is equipped with "ESC Sport" as standard. The system is activated by a two-stage switch on the center console. When the driver presses this switch briefly, Electronic Stability Control (ESC) switches to the "ESC Sport" mode. In very fast driving on a race track, the ESC system has a higher threshold in this mode. When the ESC button is pressed for longer than three seconds, the system is fully deactivated for high-performance track driving, a feature that is available only on the Golf R.

Chassis features

The Golf R features a sport suspension setup that is specifically tuned to the car. Compared to the base Golf, the ride height was dropped by 0.8 inches, which makes the Golf R lower by 0.2 inches than the GTI. In the Golf R, the strut-type front suspension has a newly developed lower control arm and the multi-link rear suspension was enhanced with different tuning of the toe-link bearings.

The engineers designed the running gear of the new Golf R for maximum driving fun combined with extraordinary stability and good long-distance comfort. Compared to the previous model, steering response was improved thanks to the new "progressive" variable ratio steering rack. In addition, maximum attainable cornering speeds were significantly increased and understeer all but eliminated.

With progressive steering, there are 2.1 turns of the wheel (380 degrees) from lock to lock, compared with 2.75 turns (500 deg) for less powerful Golf models. The new steering operates with a progressive gear ratio, perceptibly reducing steering effort in maneuvering and parking. On country roads with lots of bends, the experience is enhanced because the steering is more direct.

The new Golf R can be ordered with the second-generation DCC dynamic chassis control as an option. DCC offers three driving modes: 'Comfort', 'Normal', and 'Sport', which are selected and displayed via the center console touchscreen as part of the "Driving Profile Selector" functionality. In "Sport" mode, the dampers are stiffened for more agile handling.

The DCC system adaptively controls the damper valves via a further developed and refined control algorithm. DCC takes input signals from wheel displacement sensors and accelerometers as well as vehicle information from the Chassis-CAN bus to compute these values and adaptively adjust the optimal damping force. Moreover, damping forces are selectively applied to the four wheels individually. With the new generation of DCC, it is now possible to independently vary rebound and compression damping while cornering.

Race mode. The Driving Profile Selector has three programs in the Golf R, and four in conjunction with DCC: "Normal", "Individual", and a "Race" mode that has been specially designed for the Golf R. In combination with DCC, "Comfort" mode is also available. All modes were specifically tuned for the Golf R. In "Race" mode, which is designed for high-speed track driving, damping is increased and engine response and the shift points of the DSG transmission are configured to be even sportier. In the "Individual" driving profile, the driver can combine mode settings for various individual parameters.

Brakes. The Golf R has the uprated brakes from the GTI Performance model. At the front, the car has 13.4-inch diameter vented discs that are 1.2 inches thick, while the rear rotors are 12.2 by 0.9 inches. The black brake calipers have the R logo on them. Up front, the brake pistons are 2.4 inches in diameter and are 1.7 inches at the back.

Exterior

Volkswagen R GmbH has developed numerous new exterior elements for the flagship Golf. They include the bumpers, side skirts, rear diffuser, dual chrome exhaust tips per side, the lights, and standard 18-inch aluminum-alloy wheels.

The Golf R is distinguished at the front by a new bumper design with exceptionally large air inlets, a modified radiator grille that sports an "R" logo, and newly developed daytime running lights that are integrated into the Bi-Xenon headlight housings. The LED daytime running lights form a distinctive dual "U" design beneath the headlights.

From the side, the Golf R is characterized by newly designed 18-inch "Cadiz" aluminum-alloy wheels shod with 225/40 tires, black brake calipers with the "R" logo, body-color "R" style side skirts, "R" badges on the front fenders, and "Matte chrome" door mirror caps.

Rear details that define the new Golf R include an "R" design diffuser, four chrome tailpipes, and an "R" logo on the trunklid.

Interior

As in the three previous Golf R models, Volkswagen R GmbH has extensively upgraded the interior. The most powerful Golf is equipped with sport seats in the front and leather seating surfaces that feature outer seat surfaces, inner side support panels, and head restraints upholstered in dark "Carbon" Nappa leather. Meanwhile, the center sections of the seats are trimmed in dark or light Nappa leather. Leather is also used to trim the upper and lower grip zones of the three-spoke "R" sport steering wheel, which has a chrome "R" logo on its lower cross bar.

The decorative inlays of the dashboard and door trim panels feature the "Carbon Touch" design; ambient lighting is also integrated in the door trim panels as standard. The door sill kickplates, pedals, and foot support are designed with a stainless-steel look.

The instruments and the touchscreen's start menu were also customized. When the ignition is switched on, the illuminated light-blue tachometer and speedometer needles sweep once across the entire scale to their end pins. The instrument needles are also automatically illuminated as soon as the driver's door is opened. The radio or navigation-system touchscreen shows an animated "R" logo on startup.

The new-generation radio and radio/navigation systems will be available with a 5.8-inch screen on U.S. market Golf R models. The touchscreen features proximity sensors: as soon as the driver or front passenger moves a finger near to the touchscreen, the system automatically switches from display mode to input mode.

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DETROIT AUTO SHOW: Volkswagen's GOLF R Becomes The Most Powerful Golf Ever

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