RE: Volkswagen Golf R32 (Mk5): PH Used Buying Guide

RE: Volkswagen Golf R32 (Mk5): PH Used Buying Guide

Thursday 20th September

Volkswagen Golf R32 (Mk5): PH Used Buying Guide

As the final recipient of VW's VR6 engine, the Mk5 R32 is a worthy secondhand buy. Here's what you need to know...



There had been V6-powered Golfs before, but Volkswagen really hit its stride with the R32. First introduced with the Mk4 model, the later Mk5 refined and improved the breed with a chassis better able to cope with the motor's 250hp.

Today, a Mk5 R32 can cost you as little as £5000 to buy, making it a tempting and sonorous performance car that still offers all of the practicality of the rest of the Golf hatch range. It was offered in three- and five-door body styles, but with a chromed grille shell, deeper front bumper with three air inlets and bi-Xenon headlights. Extended side sills and sportier rear bumper with a diffuser-like lower edge and twin exhaust pipes completed the makeover. The R32 sat on 18-inch alloy wheels as standard and cost from £23,745 when launched in March 2005.

At the heart of the R32 is that 3.2-litre V6 motor lifted from the previous Mk4 model. It gained 10hp over the older car and torque was now delivered 300rpm lower in the rev range. That means 250hp and 236lb ft of torque that comes on song from 2500rpm, which helps the R32 to feel surprisingly brisk despite its 1541kg weight. From rest to 62mph was quoted at 6.5 seconds for the R32 at launch, which made it 0.5 seconds quicker than a GTI. Top speed was electronically limited to 155mph.


Power from the engine is delivered through a Haldex four-wheel drive system. It uses a multi-plate clutch that allows power to be distributed where it can best be used, so in extreme conditions all the power can go to the front or rear wheels. The biggest choice for R32 customers when it was new was between the six-speed manual or DSG gearboxes. By the time the Mk5 R32 went on sale, Volkswagen had dealt with most of the issues with the twin-clutch Direct Shift Gearbox and it's proved more reliable than early Audi TTs which used the same transmission.

Contemporary road tests praised the Mk5 R32 for the amount of grip it offered when cornering. Road testers pointed out the steering didn't offer as much feedback as a Subaru Impreza's but the turn-in was quick and there's 2.9 turns between lock stops. Bringing all of this to a halt are 345mm front and 310mm rear discs.

Inside, the R32 was well appointed with aluminium foot pedals, flat-bottomed steering wheel, climate control and six-disc CD changer. Optional Recaro seats were a popular, if expensive option, and are desirable on any car you look at now so long as the side bolsters are not badly worn and need repair. Those R32s at the bottom end of the price spectrum will likely need more money spent on them to address wear and tear, so a more realistic budget is from around £7500 for a car with complete service history. Top whack for an immaculate, low mileage car is around £13,000.



Buyer's checklist

Bodywork and interior
High level LED brake light can fail
.
Rear windscreen wiper can fail and needs a new motor.

Recaro seat mounts can rattle even when seat is securely fitted.

Rust on front wheelarches that's common to all Mk5 Golfs caused by the plastic liner rubbing away pain from the arch's lip.

Automatic Xenon headlight height adjustment can fail and requires new motors.

Air conditioning can stop working.


Engine and transmission
3.2-litre V6 is generally robust, but coil packs can fail and result in a misfire.

Engine is chain-driven, but plastic tensioner wears and can make the engine sound rattly. Replacement tensioner and bolt will cost around £60 plus fitting.

Oil change every 10,000 miles is recommended

Rear differential and Haldex coupling need an oil service every 40,000 miles. Change the spark plugs at the same time.

DSG gearbox needs an oil change every 40,000 miles. The DSG 'box is more robust in the R32 than previous VAG models, but check it shifts smoothly and takes up drive from a standing start without any jerkiness. Also make sure it's had any recall work carried out for the Mechatronic control module.

Flapper mod for exhaust is a common upgrade to give more engine noise. Simple to make the mod or return the car to standard.


Suspension and steering
Creaks and grinding noise from the front point to a worn steering rack.

Front and rear top mounts can begin to rattle and need replacing.

Wheels, tyres and brakes
Check the inner edges of the front tyres carefully for wear.

Brake fluid change required every two years or 24,000 miles.

Rear brakes can bind, so listen for any rubbing or grinding noises.



SPECIFICATION - VOLKSWAGEN GOLF R32 (Mk5)
Engine:
3189cc V6
Transmission: 6-speed man/DSG
Power (hp): 250@6300rpm
Torque (lb ft): 236@2500rpm
MPG: 26.4
CO2: 257g/km
Price new: £23,745
Price now: £5000 upwards

Search for a used Volkswagen Golf R32 here

Author
Discussion

sidesauce

Original Poster:

861 posts

154 months

Thursday 20th September
quotequote all
These have always been smart looking cars - ah, the wonders of depreciation...

sleepera6

4,493 posts

33 months

Thursday 20th September
quotequote all
Nice - mine’s been a whirlwind of bork but it’s running great now and literally nothing can beat that VR6 soundtrack when it’s on song - especially a nice exhaust to bring out the full voice.

rb_89

50 posts

6 months

Thursday 20th September
quotequote all
Agreed, smart looking cars.

See quite a few around where I live, they normally look in good condition (and clean!).

All I can think about pricing wise is that lupo gti post from the other day which was (5k?) seems you get a whole lot more car for your money with one of these..

HeMightBeBanned

512 posts

114 months

Thursday 20th September
quotequote all
I considered one briefly but got a Mk5 GTI instead, as it's lighter and therefore not much slower than the lardy one with the heavier V6 engine and 4WD drivetrain. Contemporary road-tests suggested that the GTI was a more engaging drive, too.

In short - nice, but not worth the extra money or the higher running costs over a GTI.

Dale487

792 posts

59 months

Thursday 20th September
quotequote all
rb_89 said:
Agreed, smart looking cars.

See quite a few around where I live, they normally look in good condition (and clean!).

All I can think about pricing wise is that lupo gti post from the other day which was (5k?) seems you get a whole lot more car for your money with one of these..
Agreed that a £5K R32 is a lot of car for the money, but as the article says you need to spend nearer £7.5K to get a decent one. The £5K Lupo GTI would need a lot less work than a £5K R32 & be one of the better examples of the Lupo against less well looked after R32. But you pays your money & makes your choice.
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austinsmirk

3,180 posts

59 months

Thursday 20th September
quotequote all
Has a used one ever been owned by anyone that isn't pretending to be a gangsta, with the seats horizontal and deals drugs for a living ?

Therein lies the problem with them: the people who buy them. A great car, but ruined by the drivers/owners.

kmpowell

1,835 posts

164 months

Thursday 20th September
quotequote all
HeMightBeBanned said:
I considered one briefly but got a Mk5 GTI instead, as it's lighter and therefore not much slower than the lardy one with the heavier V6 engine and 4WD drivetrain. Contemporary road-tests suggested that the GTI was a more engaging drive, too.

In short - nice, but not worth the extra money or the higher running costs over a GTI.
In contrast, back in 2006/07 I considered and drove both, I ended up with an R32. The 3.2 in the R32 is a huge step up in engine refinement. If you want to blast around B roads all day long, sure the GTi just edges it if you're going to be on the limit all day in the dry, but for day to day comfort, power, traction and noise, the R32 wins hands down. It can feel a bit nose heavy at times, but that's only if you really are on the limit in the bends.

I had a Deep Blue Pearl manual 3 door. Picture taken from my instagram (many years ago when borders were a thing, apologies!)...



Great car, with a noise to die for (especially if you did the exhaust flap mod!) only let down only by poor MPG around town, a slight lack of low range torque, and VERY poor quality leather.

EDIT to add: the buyers guide above talks about the optional Recaro bucket seats, but doesn't mention the two fundamental flaws with them that VW never rectified. 1. They do creak, and I mean creak badly! 2.The leather around the bolster to the back comes unstuck/undone and can only be fixed by a good trimmer who modifies the stitching/sealing. The standard bucket seats are also very comfortable with really good support, so I wouldn't get swayed by the optional buckets as a deal clincher.

Edited by kmpowell on Thursday 20th September 10:03

Arsecati

98 posts

53 months

Thursday 20th September
quotequote all
I've never been a Golf fan - nothing against them, great cars, etc., but they've just never moved me. But I remember years ago flying over to Leeds (from Dublin) to pick up a new motorbike (a Ducati 1098 - sorry, couldn't resist!), and the guy from the dealership picked me up in one of these. Ever since then, I've always had a thing for the R32: great looking cars, just that right side of understated - but those who know, know. Kinda like the current R I guess - I always have to have a longer look when I see one (damn domesticity, age and these bleeding dogs that I drive a diesel A6 Avant: though, I still have a Ducati!).

rtz62

1,550 posts

91 months

Thursday 20th September
quotequote all
"..so in extreme conditions all the power can go to the front or rear wheels"

I think that needs qualifying, as you make it sound a little different to reality.

Haldex themselves are on record as saying the following (and please forgive the length reply)

"1. There are situations where near 100% torque transfer to the rear axle
occur. An example is if the front wheels are on ice and the rear wheels are
on tarmac. In that case the front wheels have (almost) no grip. In that
case, the haldex coupling will transfer all torque to the rear axle and
prevent front wheel spin. On uniform surfaces however, the coupling can not
transfer all torque to the rear axle. See below.

2. We need slip over the coupling in order to be able to transfer torque.
That slip (rotational speed difference between the front and rear axle) is
created by different tyre rolling radius (front to rear) and drive slip
between the tyre and road. The rolling raduis difference can be created by
differently worn tyres (or different dimensions, something that should be
avoided) and different load. In most cars, the front axle has a greater load
than the rear axle, which causes the roll radius of the front tire to be
smaller than the one for the rear tyres (given the same nominal size). This
gives us the possibility to transfer torque to the rear axle also when no
slip occurrs on the front tyres.

If you have differently worn tyres on the front and rear axles, the new
tyres should always be on the rear axle. This is true no matter if the car
is FWD, RWD or AWD, since you otherwise risk heavy and uncontrollable
oversteer in situations such as aqua planing. In this case, putting the worn
tyres at the front also helps not to reduce the maximum transferable torque
(maximum rear axle torque).

During cruising which a constant velocity, we have the possibility to
transfer up to 40-45% of the torque to the rear axle, given nominal tyres.
During acceleration, the weight transfer increase the front tyre slip and
decreases the rear axle slip, giving us the possibility to achieve more or
less the same torque distribution as the dynamic weight distribution.
Generally speaking, depending on the vehicle somewhere around 60-70% is
possible to achieve during a full acceleration. Note that we are still
talking about a uniform surface, with no spin on the front wheels.

When cornering , there is in most cars a tendency for the inner front wheel
to lift and spin. In that situation, we can increase the torque transfer
even further.

So far I have only spoken about what possibilities there is to transfer
torque. How much is actually transferred depends also on how the haldex
coupling is controlled. The engine torque and gas pedal position are
together with the wheel speeds and the engine speed the most important
signals that are used in the control. Brake, ABS and ESP signals are also
very important for enabling co-existance between the AWD system and the
ABS/ESP system. We control the coupling in order to prevent wheel spin as
well as removing it quicky if it should occur.

3. Steering angle is not a signal used in the control of the coupling in VW
group cars. The reason for this is that the steering angle is not available
in most cars as it is only present when an ESP system is mounted. We do
however calculate the curve radius from the wheel speeds. We have software
ready using more signals as the steering angle that we offer to the vehicle
manufacturers. This enables further optimisation of handling performance.

4. It may vary a bit with speed (and road surface), but without going into
details a figure of around 10-15% would be typical. It is enough to help
stabilising the car while at the same time saving fuel and reducing the
temperature of certain driveline components. As soon as the driver starts to
accelerate or decelerate, more torque is transferred.

5. Yes it does. In general, a higher percentage of the torque is transferred
to the rear axle in low velicities than in high ones. This is partly due to
the fact that the total available driveline torque is larger at lower speeds
(and lower gears), thus causing more weight transfer to the rear axle. In
order to achieve consequent handling characteristics (as well as optimised
traction), more torque must then be transferred to the rear axle.

6. The haldex coupling is completely compatible with ABS and ESP systems.
In order to optimise the performance of the ABS/ESP system, it is possible
to open the haldex couplng during ABS braking or a stability control brake
intervension. The ABS/ESP antispinn and stability control also depend very
much on being able to calculate the vehicle velocity. That is very easy with
2WD, but as soon as you have the possibility of four wheels spinning it gets
very complicated. The haldex coupling and ABS/ESP system interface make it
easier to obtain a good reference velocity.
In the cars where the haldex coupling is available today, additional signals
available with ESP are not used. We do however have software using these
signals. This enables further optimisation of handling performance and life
span of driveline components.


During calibration of the haldex coupling , we try to optimise the traction
and handling performance of the car. These are however not the only aspects
that are important. The final calibration is alway a compromise between
traction, handling, the life span of driveline components, temperatures in
driveline components, fuel consumption and more. If the car manufacturer
wants the same calibration to be used in several different cars, a new
compromise has to be made. Different manufacturers do have different
strategies about this. Some tend to let many cars share the same calibration
while others want to optimise each car individually."

I always remember when a friend and i both had Audi UR Quattros, and got into conversation with an owner of both an Audi S3 and an R32
Audi boy insisted his was a proper quattro ' because the badge says so', the Golf owner had no clue how his awd system worked, or if indeed it did, but again thought the Golf had all 4 wheels driven equally at all times.

Some years later my friend took me out in a track-prepped Skoda Octavia with a monster controller and a Haldex Gen II controller and i have to say it really made a difference to the cars dynamics. Anyway, thats a different subject...


BricktopST205

456 posts

70 months

Thursday 20th September
quotequote all
Audi A3 of same generation has the same power and is a hell of a lot cheaper.


Dale487

792 posts

59 months

Thursday 20th September
quotequote all
austinsmirk said:
Has a used one ever been owned by anyone that isn't pretending to be a gangsta, with the seats horizontal and deals drugs for a living ?

Therein lies the problem with them: the people who buy them. A great car, but ruined by the drivers/owners.
All Golf Rs seem to have that problem Up North - which is why I found it strange when Harry Metcalf praising the understated looks & image on his Golf R video. Maybe its a regional thing.

Turbobanana

1,181 posts

137 months

Thursday 20th September
quotequote all
PH Used Buying Guide said:
the plastic liner rubbing away pain from the arch's lip.
Does it have a built-in masseuse? I'm in - where do I sign? smile

Mike1990

604 posts

67 months

Thursday 20th September
quotequote all
Always had a soft spot for these. Such a smart, classy looking hot hatch. I just couldn’t afford the fuel costs doing 40+ miles to work and back everyday.

JMF894

2,661 posts

91 months

Thursday 20th September
quotequote all
These have been discussed before on here. Sound lovely, look good but according to many owners not actually that quick given the running costs over a GTI.

That said you could argue the same point over a Clio V6/182 and look how much V6's go for despite being 50 pence 5 pence when pushing on..............................

rtz62

1,550 posts

91 months

Thursday 20th September
quotequote all
Dale487 said:
austinsmirk said:
Has a used one ever been owned by anyone that isn't pretending to be a gangsta, with the seats horizontal and deals drugs for a living ?

Therein lies the problem with them: the people who buy them. A great car, but ruined by the drivers/owners.
All Golf Rs seem to have that problem Up North - which is why I found it strange when Harry Metcalf praising the understated looks & image on his Golf R video. Maybe its a regional thing.
There's a lady that lives 100 yards (sorry, I refuse to go metric!) up the lane opposite me that drives a silver DSG-equipped version
Every morning i hear it burble towards my house, and then stop at the end of the lane, waiting to turn right on the brow of the hill.
Bless, she then boots it, DSG whipping through the gears, and i often wonder at her lack of mechanical sympathy from cold.
To crush the stereotype she is a professional lady that works at a nearby solicitors, drivers seat steadfastly upright, Radio 2 wafting gently from the stereo (no horizontal seat backs, stupidly small diameter after-market alloy wheels set at ridiculous levels of camber or gangsta music for her..)

1974foggy

138 posts

80 months

Thursday 20th September
quotequote all
Like these, and im nitpicking here but i never liked the jetta front end or standard alloys. Id be changing both, having a spare GTI bumper for it - which i feel looks loads better. Love the rear exhaust arrangement though. And an induction kit because they sound amazing with them.

Dale487

792 posts

59 months

Thursday 20th September
quotequote all
1974foggy said:
Like these, and im nitpicking here but i never liked the jetta front end or standard alloys. Id be changing both, having a spare GTI bumper for it - which i feel looks loads better. Love the rear exhaust arrangement though. And an induction kit because they sound amazing with them.
Styling wise, inside & out, I think the GTI looks better & more expensive than the R (MK5 onwards).

scottygib553

26 posts

31 months

Thursday 20th September
quotequote all
Was never a fan of all the chrome on the front. Because of the mega CO2 figure (starting at €2350 a year to tax....€2652 if you pay quarterly!!!), very few of the 'R32s' you see in Ireland are real and are in fact TDIs dressed up. A shame...

Edited by scottygib553 on Thursday 20th September 11:20

SwissJonese

1,226 posts

111 months

Thursday 20th September
quotequote all
I had one when living in Switzerland. It had DSG and yes it wasn't crazy fast and had awful MPG, but wow the sound made up for everything.
4Motion helped keep me on the road a few times when I was going a bit too fast in the snowy mountains.
I drove it to UK and back, hit 147mph on the German Autobahn, was a great fun car.

Even the wife loved it.


Brainpox

2,375 posts

87 months

Thursday 20th September
quotequote all
I really enjoyed mine. The engine doesn't really belong in a hatch, it was more of a cruiser, but still fun to own all the same. It's just a bit different.