Following the success of the Golf R32, a replacement for the car based on the new Mk VI platform was always going to have big shoes to fill--and with news the R32’s torquey 3.2-liter V-6 was being dropped in favor of a turbocharged four-cylinder, we’re sure most fans would have been fearful the new car would lose much of its predecessor's character.

Those fears were put to rest, however, when the all-new 2011 Volkswagen Golf R was first revealed late last year. That's because the latest hot-hatch comes with a screaming 2.0-liter TSI engine rated at 265 horsepower--the most powerful production Golf ever--and is capable of accelerating 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.

Making sure drive gets to the ground adequately is a sophisticated 4Motion all-wheel drive system that has received a number of updates for application in the Golf R. The most important one: activation of the all-wheel differential no longer requires a difference between the front and rear axle speeds as it is now completely electronically controlled.

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.

First sales are expected to start by the middle of the year so in the meantime get all the information you need to know by checking out our previous story.