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Sub-Compact Hatches: Alive and Thrashing

Posted by: Matthew Vella on February 9, 2007


Seems the new-ish upstaged the genuinely exciting at this year’s Chicago Auto Show. Everyone is talking about Saturn’s Astra hatch, which is nothing more than a re-badged European Opel. Sure it looks good and will likely give the company’s lineup youthful verve. But, diehard hatch aficionados were drooling over another announcement, Volkswagen’s R32, a steroidal hot hatch suffering from equal parts voodoo and ADHD.

As if the truly good GTI didn’t pack enough of a punch, the 2008 VW R32 will arrive on American shores equipped with a rip-roaring 3.2 liter V6 that pumps out 250 horses and 236 lbs.-ft. of torque. True, the 2008 Mitsubishi Lancer Evo and 2008 Subaru Impreza will have 300 horses or more when they hit streets. But, neither will have VW’s Direct Shift Gearbox or 4Motion all-wheel drive, which are both considered by many two of the best technology packages in the auto industry.

At $32,990 the market is sliver-thin. Indeed, only 5,000 models will be sold. But the R32 could act as a lust-inducing halo model that could help Rabbits and GTIs move off VW lots even faster.

Reader Comments


February 9, 2007 4:09 PM

NOTHING MORE than a re-badged European Opel? Perhaps you should turn your gaze to the re-badged Scion xB, xA, Volkswagen Rabbit (well...), Infiniti G35, mostly successful cars.

As for a halo car, they've already sold R32s in this country. Is it supposed to be more successful because no one will be distracted by the Phaetons in the showroom?

I have to think that V-Dub's on the same track down that Ford and GM are, only they have worse quality and smaller sales.


February 12, 2007 9:45 AM

Matt, the R32 is undeniable good on paper, and I'd love to drive one. I would, however, hate to own one. VW/Audi's quality is very poor. I'd love looking at all of them, but woe is in store for the owners after the warranty expires.
The Astra, once it gets the 2.0 Turbo, will be an R32 killer, and likely with better long-term quality. By the way, no R32 has been particularly fast by modern measures (MazdaSpeed3 trounces in performance and likely long-term quality). The Teutonic Emperor Wears No Clothes (unless it's a Bimmer).


February 13, 2007 2:59 AM

the 2000 Honda S2000 got 240 hp from a 2.0 liter 4 cylinder, which i'm sure got much better gas mileage!! and for the same price. and convertible. so while it sounds like fun, it does not sound groundbreaking or as socially responsible (or cheap to operate) as the honda.
on the plus side does have 4 seats though so people can car-pool.
how bout a turbo-diesel version!!?

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