Volkswagen might have pulled the plug on the ambitious Golf R400 project due to the infamous dieselgate. However, the high-performance limited-iteration of the hot hatch is not clearly dead yet. An undisguised prototype of the Golf R420 was spotted at the Green Hell with a sporty exhaust and a souped-up engine.
The Golf R400 was showcased in the concept guise at the 2014 Beijing Auto Show. The car was slated to go into production a year later, but in 2016 the scandalous dieselgate took its toll on this niche project. The German carmaker had to pay a heavy fine for the emission cheating and thus had to nix the large investment required to roll out this bonkers hatchback.
Now, a year later, a mysterious test mule sporting the Audi’s RS oval exhaust showed up at the Nurburgring. The test mule is rumoured to be packing the VW Group’s inline-five motor. This might even be the same 2.5-litre turbocharged unit from the Audi RS3. The hot hatch is expected to be punching out around 420bhp and 480Nm. Hence the 420 moniker.
The undisguised test mule had the pre-facelift fascia of the Golf R with the same bi-xenon headlamps with DRLs. Even the front bumper is the same. The sporty seven-spoke alloys seemed to have been scrounged from the Audi S-range, while the tail lights were the same LED units from the current Golf. The massive rear wing from the R400 Concept was dropped for a subtle spoiler similar to that of the Golf R. But the most profound change was the oval exhaust tips from Audi whereas the Golf currently uses a quad-exhaust set-up.
If the highly potent Golf R420 is back on cards, it will be limited to a special production run, demanding a hefty premium over its standard counterparts. The R420 will give serious nightmares to the upcoming Mercedes-Benz A45 AMG and Audi RS3, apart from the Honda City Type R and Ford Focus RS. It might also be the first hatch in its segment to breach the 400bhp mark unless the A45 does it first. Whatever might be the case, it is a relief to know that the German giant hasn’t totally given up on the performance vehicles yet despite shifting its focus to electric vehicles.