Under my vehicle cercumstances at the time, I could not pass up this car for the price. Overall I'm very happy with it. I was cross-shopping Mercedes C230 sports, was hoping to find a C350 Sport, but could no longer wait. The good: -Decent/even power -AWD is Awesome! VERY solid -Styling is very good! Very Youthful -Exhaust looks and sounds fantastic -interior is very roomy and comfortable -great factory stereo, 3-way components in the doors! (although an upgrade is needed, it's a good starting point) -Feels high class -Projector headlamps are COOL! Should be aware of: -High cost of regular maintence (was quoted $950 for the 40K mi. service from VW) DSG flush, AWD system flush, and other services. -Would prefer a Standard tranny, DSG is not very inspiring -Average around 21mpg (lots of highway driving) -Not as much POWER as would be expected (I was coming from an 03' 20th AE GTI, which felt stronger on the freeway, and returned much better mileage)
Back in 2001 when I first laid eyes upon the MkIV R32, I knew right then and there that I wanted one. The VR6 exhaust note defined the very essence of a the sporty hatchback from Volkswagen. Fast forward 7 years to the release of the 2008 MkV R32. While the exhaust note has been tamed a bit, the VR6 note is still distinguishable from other vehicles at the stoplight. My first brand new vehicle purchase, I still find joy in listening to the VR6 warm up on a chilly morning. Aesthetically, the subtle visual differences between the R32 and its siblings - GTI & Rabbit - are just enough to help it stand out. Power delivery is smooth and consistent. The AWD coupled with the DSG transmission provide the confidence to stay in control through bad weather, tight corners, or while passing on the freeway. The trade off for NA power and AWD control comes at the expense of lower gas mileage. Tracking data between fill-ups, I am seeing a regular 21 MPG (mixed city + highway). My only real gripe with the vehicle is found inside. Although the R32 comes fully loaded, there are details of the interior that could be improved. Similar to many vehicles from Audi and its siblings (GTI / Rabbit), the R32 suffers from minor interior trim rattle. Sourced to various areas of the cabin ranging from the rear seat latch and front seat belt clips, or door trim and center console, the rattles are most likely caused by constant road vibration. Fortunately, the VW service centers are aware of the issue and remedy the rattles by disassembling trim pieces and refitting. What I can not understand is VW's reasoning for leaving some of the interior details offered in the GTI out of the R32. Little things like the GTI's dead pedal metal plate vs. the R32's exposed floor board; the GTI's protective door sills with 'GTI' emblems vs. the R32's exposed door sills prone to scratches / chips. I always tell myself VW cut corners to keep the cost of the .:R down. Would I recommend the R32 over the GTI? It really depends. I test drove the GTI before purchasing the R32. Although the GTI gets better gas mileage, has quicker acceleration, and a lower sticker price... the added safety of full time AWD and the naturally aspired 6 cylinder was too hard to deny. Test drive both - two different driving personalities.
I've had this car for roughly a month and a half and it has spent more time at the shop than in my possession and is scheduled to go back to the shop early next week for repair attempt number three. While I enjoy the handling, performance and looks of the car, the problems with the DSG completely ruin this car for me. The car jumps, downshifts hard to the point where the tires lock up, rolls when it park, pops out of gear, etc. There is a known issue with the mechatronic unit, but I already had it replaced on this car and I'm still having major problems with the DSG transmission.