Volkswagen has taken the Golf R hatchback in a more aggressive styling direction, according to photos and details released before its debut at the Frankfurt auto show.
The Golf R has symbolic importance to VW as the top-of-the-line version of the Golf hatchback, the company’s best-selling car. As such, it has distinctive design cues, such as U-shaped LED running lights beneath the main headlights, quadruple chrome exhaust pipes and metallic caps for the side mirrors.
The Golf R will come with a 2-liter, four-cylinder turbocharged gasoline engine tuned to send 296-horses to all four wheels — which is 69 hp more than what the GTI offers.
It goes on sale in Europe at the end of this year. Volkswagen of America says it has not decided whether to sell the car, but if that happens, it would likely arrive in U.S. dealerships in late 2014 or early 2015.
To bring it back, VW would need to find sure footing in a hot-hatch market that has heated up since the last Golf R went on sale. The outgoing Golf R has a sticker price of $34,990 including shipping, higher than some rivals.
Ford returned to the segment with the U.S. re-launch of the Focus ST, which starts $10,000 below the Golf R but is 40-horses less powerful. One of the Golf R’s historic competitors — the Subaru WRX STI — will be redesigned in early 2014.