Picked up my R32 from Exeter yesterday and had a 240 mile drive home .
Traded in our old V6 4-motion for the new car, so my first impressions are largely based on the differences between the 4-motion and the R32.
Firstly then, the looks:
Both cars are 5-door and black, so the bodywork differences are quite subtle changes when viewed from the side - wider side-skirts and a deeper front valance. However, the wider sills do add quite a lot of impact, strangely enough. It's the wheels that make the biggest visual difference though - only 16" on the 4-mo and 18" on the R32. I've no idea how I'll wash them, but they do look luverly and a good match for the car.
From the front, the difference between the two cars is most noticable - the very deep front valance and spoiler set the car apart from the 4-motion, and indeed the Anniversary GTI. It definitely gives the car a more aggresive appearance - perhaps a little close to being "Max Power'ed", but not quite
From the rear, the first things you notice are those massive "drain-pipe" exhausts. The rear roof spoiler is very subtle, and whilst adding to the overall look of the car, does not take it too far.
Inside, there are some obvious striking differences. Aluminium trim around the centre console and door trim - looks superb and far, far better than the fake wood trim in the 4-mo. My wife approved of this as well.
But it's the seats which are most visually outstanding, with their bigger thigh bolsters and the huge side bolsters, they really look the part of a performance car. Not only that, but they are extremely supportive and almost comfortable
In the rear, it's more of a bench seat, which I found surprising. I sat in briefly, and didn't find them that comfortable. Not only that, but the rear seets don't really offer any side support at all. So, if you want to throw the car around, don't do it with rear seat passengers. That said, the kids said it was comfortable in the back.
On the comfort front, although the front seats are extremely supportive, after a 4 hour drive, I was quite stiff when I got out - particularly my left shoulder and both legs. Whilst I suspect the shoulder problem was because I didn't have the seat rake set quite right, I'm pretty sure the leg stiffness was because there is no extending seat squab like in the A4 sports seats to support the backs of my legs. As a comparison, I drove to Cornwall last summer in the A4, taking around 5 hours, and got out with no stiffness at all.
The first thing you notice when you start the engine is that deep rumble from the 3.2. This is actually quite a lot louder than the 4-mo, which you can barely hear when the engine is idling. I assume that this is because of the exhaust system. It does sound rather nice though, and doesn't seem to have that edgy rasp that the 2.8 has when revved (which I didn't like).
As I drove out of the dealers, it was immediately noticeable that the steering is much improved over the 4-mo - even on those huge 18" alloys. Turn-in, even at low speed, is much more positive. Point it where you want to go and plant the "go" pedal
The suspension is much stiffer than the 4-mo, but having said that, it isn't harsh. Whilst you feel bumps more, this could be because the tyres are much lower profile than the (16") 4-mo.
But the engine is the true revelation. A slight touch of the throttle and you surge forward, and before you know it you're over the speed limit.
Around town, it is very comfortable and easy to drive, which I was quite surprised about. I'd heard some stories about it being difficult in 1st, and whilst I did have a kangaroo hop after filling up (with Optimax ) at the services, it was a one-off. Let's hope my wife copes okay
On the open road, the car handles like a dream. Very flat and poised on the motorway, but it's the engine which makes it worthwhile. Press the accelerator slightly at 70 and the needle gently pushes up toward 80. However, press it some more and 80 comes rushing up . But that's not the end of it - you can really feel the engine urging you on "push me, push me". It just wants to go and go. It was all so effortless and without any sense of stress as in some cars. The torque difference between the R32 and 4-mo is considerable and very noticeable. Whilst the R32 can't match my tractor for torque, it makes up for it by being lighter and being able to deliver the available torque over a wider range.
On the downside, as many have mentioned before me, the exhaust is boomy between around 2200rpm and 2800rpm. It's only when the engine is under load, but it does get tiring if you are having to drive at around 60mph on the motorway. I'm quite puzzled by this noise as it's obviously resonance rather than the natural sound of the exhaust, but I can't imagine why the VW engineers would set it up like that. I know some of you like it, but to me it's an annoying "boom" rather than something which should relay the character of the engine to you. If you want to know what it should sound like, take a drive in the 4.2 S4! Anyway, we'll see how it goes as the engine loosens, and how annoying it is for my wife, who'll drive the car as much as me, before attempting to do anything about it.
Also, on the way home, the traction control light came on whilst I was going up the (wet) ramp from the M5 onto the M42. Unfortunately, it stayed on for the rest of the journey home. Something which I'm not too happy about. I'm hoping it was a one-off glitch - we'll see.
Overall though, I'm very happy with the car and look forward to putting it through its paces on the twisties through North Derbyshire.