2008 Volkswagen R32 Review

Used R32 for sale
List Price Estimate:$6,128 - $11,038
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Volkswagen R32 model years
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Edmunds' Expert Review

  • Muscular V6, fantastic automated manual transmission, comfortable and quiet cabin, excellent steering feel, everything except a nav system is standard.
  • Hefty curb weight dulls handling on twisty roads, choosing the optional nav system deletes the CD changer, pricey for a compact hatchback.

At more than $30 large, the 2008 Volkswagen R32 is pricey for a compact hatchback. But with its standard 250-horse V6, all-wheel drive and abundance of luxury features, it's worth consideration from those who want something different that's fast, comfortable and rare.

Vehicle overview

What would you get if an early '80s Audi Quattro coupe and the current VW GTI found themselves on a deserted island with an endless loop of Barry White's Greatest Hits playing? Well, glossing over that whole icky age-difference part, you'd likely end up with a spawn that resembles the 2008 Volkswagen R32.

That first Audi Quattro coupe packed a powerful turbocharged five-cylinder engine and all-wheel drive, offering enthusiasts who had to deal with snow and slush a performance car they could drive all year round. Carrying that spirit on today, the Volkswagen R32 is similar to today's GTI but offers two things that hot hatch doesn't -- a ripping V6 engine and all-wheel drive.

The latest model is a follow-up on the limited-production, Golf-based R32 that VW sold in the United States a few years ago. Of course, with the R32 being a compact sporty car with a muscular engine and all-wheel traction, everybody will want to compare it to the forthcoming redesigned Subaru WRX STI and Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution. That's not exactly apples to apples, however, as the R32 is more a fast, comfortable GT than a rip-roaring, apex-attacking super compact.

Yes, the Evo will leave the R32 behind on a tight twisty road and will outgun it in a stoplight sprint. But the Vee-Dub is still plenty quick enough (zero to 60 in 6.5 seconds, says Volkswagen), handles better than most drivers will ever need and would make a much better daily driver and road trip companion thanks to its smoother, quieter ride. The R32 is also more mature, as this performance car does without the gaping air intakes and wing-and-spoiler bonanza. It also has a nicer interior that gives off a neatly tailored European vibe typical of the brand.

Priced at more than $30,000, the 2008 Volkswagen R32 occupies a niche in the hot-hatch segment. It's more expensive than natural competitors and lacks the performance one can get from the Evo or Ford Mustang GT. But this super-sporty Vee-Dub's appeal lies outside the norm. With only 5,000 bound for American shores, the R32 is rare and holds obvious appeal to VW fans, making it a worthy über-GTI. Heck, maybe even the dearly departed Barry White would want to own one.

2008 Volkswagen R32 models

The 2008 Volkswagen R32 comes as a two-door hatchback in a single, fully loaded trim level. Highlights of the standard features list include a unique aluminum grille, xenon headlights, 18-inch alloy wheels, center-mounted dual exhaust, power sunroof, leather upholstery, heated front sport seats with power lumbar support, full power accessories, dual-zone automatic climate control, premium sound system with six-CD changer and satellite radio.

There is but a pair of options: all-season tires in place of the standard performance rubber and a navigation system. Opting for the latter adds an iPod adapter to the sound system but takes away the CD changer.

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2008 Highlights

The Volkswagen R32 returns for 2008. This VW GTI on steroids packs a 250-horsepower V6, all-wheel drive and a host of luxury features.

Performance & mpg

A 3.2-liter V6 (hence the "32" in the car's name) with 250 hp and 236 pound-feet of torque powers the R32. It's paired with a dual-clutch sequential automanual gearbox ("DSG") that sends the power to all four wheels via Volkswagen's 4Motion all-wheel-drive system. The V6 provides a broad power spread and a hearty exhaust note, while the DSG snaps off shifts as soon as you flick the wheel-mounted paddles. Left to shift on its own, it works just fine, but selecting the "Sport" setting results in it downshifting (often with a "clunk") when it's really not needed.

Performance estimates put the 0-60-mph sprint at an estimated 6.5 seconds, which is respectable considering the R32's rather portly (3,500-pound) mass. Passing maneuvers and high-speed cruising are effortless and relatively hushed, a result of the car's autobahn pedigree. Fuel economy is estimated at 18 mpg city and 23 mpg highway.

Safety

Antilock disc brakes, stability control, front side airbags and side-curtain airbags are all standard. Though no crash tests have been done on the R32, those done by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety on the Volkswagen Rabbit (on which the R32 is based) yielded strong scores. In that agency's frontal offset and side impact testing, the Rabbit scored "Good" (the highest possible) for both tests.

Driving

When pressed on a serpentine road, the 2008 Volkswagen R32 is capable, but not as nimble as more sharply focused sport compact cars. With the grip of all-wheel drive and communicative steering that's not calibrated to go-kart spec quickness, the R32 is fairly forgiving when pushed hard, tending toward understeer that diminishes as speed is scrubbed off.

The R32 feels more comfortable when the hairpins turn into sweeping bends. It rolls a little, settles in midcorner and sticks without needing any steering adjustment. Road feel is excellent for an electrically assisted steering system, and the thick rim of the steering wheel provides a satisfying connection between the driver's hands and the hardware.

Thanks to its supple suspension, the R32 feels as at home while cruising on straight roads as it does blasting through canyons. That effortless freeway running character, along with its roomy, quiet cabin and supportive seats make this performance car a great choice for road trippers.

Interior

The R32's sport seats, borrowed from the GTI, grip well without forcing you to climb into them. Scrutinize the well-appointed cabin and it's obvious that VW is related to Audi, given the tight fit and finish, and high materials quality. Burnished metallic accents spice up the cockpit and a flat-bottom steering wheel furthers the sporty feel. Controls and displays are easy to see and use. A roomy rear seat offers decent room for a pair of adults and when flipped down, opens up a massive 43 cubic feet of cargo space.


Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the Used 2008 Volkswagen R32.

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Most helpful consumer reviews

4.63 out of 5 stars
42K follow up
CA,06/12/2010
2dr Hatchback AWD (3.2L 6cyl 6AM)
Follow up from Sep 2008 when I bought it w/ 12k miles. I now have 42k on this car and it remains rock solid. Over time I've gotten very used to getting the most out of it without killing gas mileage. It's best on long twisty road and takes 20 mph S-turns at 60-70 mph w/o even thinking about it and is so much fun to drive. I get 23 combined and 26 highway MPG but still think it needs a taller 6th gear. It's hard to find a better AWD car. AWD and DSG maintenance is spendy and only had a strut go bad. With all that said I wonder what it would do with an additional 100 hp.
4.75 out of 5 stars
Still Great at 25K Miles
J D Sharp,06/04/2009
2dr Hatchback AWD (3.2L 6cyl 6AM)
I wrote about my car shortly after receiving it in 2007. Here we are nearly two years later, and I still love it. No mechanical problems at all. Gas mileage is still mediocre (25mpg at very best, all highway driving, more like 18 in the city . . .) but understandable when there's so much power on tap. Seats continue to be completely supportive even after two years. Just wanted to chime in and say that the enthusiastic glow that so many of us feel right after buying a car has continued with this one. My favorite car I have ever owned, and that includes a long string of Audis, BMWs and various Japanese makes. No regrets whatever.
5 out of 5 stars
2008 VW R32
jack,06/28/2008
2dr Hatchback AWD (3.2L 6cyl 6AM)
My wife drives a 2007 bmw 328ix and she loves her car but takes the R32 whenever she gets the chance, for a little more excitement. The complete package is almost perfectly balanced between comfort, performance, safety and can I Dare to say fuel economy. The one thing that stand out among any of the other pocket rockets on the market is the styling. No other car can really compare to the dynamic styling of this car inside and out. It is outside the box and beyond smart. I give it an 11 handling is sweet will keep up with anything on the hairpin road and the some.
3.88 out of 5 stars
Gas Line Problems
Chris,07/17/2008
2dr Hatchback AWD (3.2L 6cyl 6AM)
I too love this vehicle. It is sporty, functional, and fairly comfortable. However, as some of you have mentioned, I too have had this gas tank problem. My R32 was idling when it just started dumping multiple gallons of gas everywhere. The tank wasn't full and it came from the underside of the car. The VW people assure me that this problem was unique to my car. However, all the parts are back ordered. The have had my car for almost 2 weeks and said it could be 2-3 weeks more. Sounds like VW needs to admit this design flaw.

More about the 2008 Volkswagen R32

Used 2008 Volkswagen R32 Overview

The Used 2008 Volkswagen R32 is offered in the following submodels: R32 Hatchback. Available styles include 2dr Hatchback AWD (3.2L 6cyl 6AM). The Used 2008 Volkswagen R32 comes with all wheel drive. Available transmissions include: 6-speed automated manual. The Used 2008 Volkswagen R32 comes with a 4 yr./ 50000 mi. basic warranty, a 4 yr./ 50000 mi. roadside warranty, and a 5 yr./ 60000 mi. powertrain warranty.

What's a good price on a Used 2008 Volkswagen R32?

Shop with Edmunds for perks and special offers on used cars, trucks, and SUVs near Ashburn, VA. Doing so could save you hundreds or thousands of dollars. Edmunds also provides consumer-driven dealership sales and service reviews to help you make informed decisions about what cars to buy and where to buy them.

Which used 2008 Volkswagen R32s are available in my area?

Shop Edmunds' car, SUV, and truck listings of over 6 million vehicles to find a cheap new, used, or certified pre-owned (CPO) 2008 Volkswagen R32 for sale near. Simply research the type of car you're interested in and then select a used car from our massive database to find cheap prew-owned vehicles for sale near you. Once you have identified a used vehicle you're interested in, check the AutoCheck vehicle history reports, read dealer reviews, and find out what other owners paid for the Used 2008 Volkswagen R32.

Can't find a used 2008 Volkswagen R32s you want in your area? Consider a broader search.

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Find a used certified pre-owned Volkswagen R32 for sale - 3 great deals out of 16 listings starting at $22,744.

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Should I lease or buy a 2008 Volkswagen R32?

Is it better to lease or buy a car? Ask most people and they'll probably tell you that car buying is the way to go. And from a financial perspective, it's true, provided you're willing to make higher monthly payments, pay off the loan in full and keep the car for a few years. Leasing, on the other hand, can be a less expensive option on a month-to-month basis. It's also good if you're someone who likes to drive a new car every three years or so.

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