R32. That three-character alphanumeric code is capable of kick-starting a whole subculture of hot hatch fans into overdrive. And for good reason--the Volkswagen Golf R32 was one of the most complete packages on the market, with power, handling, features and style for a still-affordable price. The R32's successor, the 2011 Volkswagen Golf R, was first revealed last year in Frankfurt and now we have new images and details following the car’s driving launch, which took place in Ellmau, Austria over the weekend.

The 2011 Golf R features the same powerplant as the off-limits-for-us Scirocco R, as well as a 4Motion all-wheel drive system that sends the mill's power to the ground. Compared to the version implemented in the Golf R32, the system underwent significant advanced development. Above all, power transmission between the front and rear axles--especially the all-wheel differential that operates in an oil bath--demonstrates clear advantages compared to the previous generation. The most important one: activation of the all-wheel differential no longer requires a difference between the front and rear axle speeds. In extreme cases, nearly 100% of the drive torque can be directed to the rear axle, a plus in terms of active safety and dynamic performance.

Its 2.0-liter TSI engine is rated at 265 horsepower--the most powerful production Golf ever--and is capable of propelling the hot hatch to 62 mph from rest in 5.5 seconds when equipped with the optional DSG dual-clutch gearbox (the standard manual gets it done 0.2 seconds slower). Top speed is electronically limited to 155 mph.

2011 Volkswagen Golf R

2011 Volkswagen Golf R

Average fuel consumption of the new Golf R is about 21% better than the R32, up to 27.7 mpg combined according to Volkswagen.  Average fuel consumption of the new Golf R is about 21% better than the R32, up to 27.7 mpg combined according to Volkswagen. Not bad considering the hatch tips the scales at more than 3,353 pounds for manual models and almost 3,400 pounds for DSG-equipped cars.

Also available as an option is DCC dynamic chassis control whose character was fully tuned to the Golf R. This system continually adapts suspension damping to the roadway and driving situation. In addition to the standard “Normal” mode, the driver can manually activate a “Sport” or “Comfort” mode.

The chassis consists of a McPherson strut suspension with helical springs and telesco ping shock absorbers up front and a multi-link set-up in the rear. The brake system was also modified for the Golf R’s higher level of driving performance. Instead of a 16-inch system, a 17-inch brake system is used and all brakes have internally ventilated discs and R-specific calipers that are painted a high-gloss black with R-logo. These are housed within a set of 18 inch wheels as standard or an optional set of 19 inch units.

In addition to the wheels, a full bodykit and an aggressive hood scoop help distinguish the Golf R from your run of the mill Golf models. Also featured are bi-xenon headlights, centrally mounted exhaust pipes, and a large roof spoiler.

Inside, there are heated and leather trimmed bucket seats (race car-inspired shell seats are an option), a multi-function three-spoke leather steering wheel, aluminum door sills and stainless steel pedals, plus plenty of Golf R logos littered across the cabin.

2011 Volkswagen Golf R

2011 Volkswagen Golf R

Fans of the R32 may be disappointed the sonorous six-cylinder of the old car won't be returning, but the peppy and efficient turbo 2.0-liter may offer more potential for tuning. Hot hatch fans in general will be glad to see the car come back in any form, as the 2011 Volkswagen Golf R is expected to arrive in local showrooms in the first half of the year.