If it hits U.S. dealerships in 2015, it'll probably be called a 2016.
VW says the heart of the car is "a newly configured, 296- horsepower TSI engine," that's rated 280 lbs.-ft. of torque and should get 18% better fuel-economy. Those are German-market ratings, and the U.S. are expected to be a bit lower.
The current-generation U.S.-market Golf R is rated 256 hp, 243 pounds-feet of torque. Mileage ratings are 19 mpg in the city, 27 on the highway, 22 in combined city/highway driving. If VW's mpg forecast is right, the new R should have ratings of about 22/32/26 mpg.
A new version of VW's 4Motion all-wheel drive keeps the hefty amount of power from simply smoking the tires, as would be likely if it were front-drive only, as the basic Golf is. To distinguish the R from the Golf GTI, also a high-performance iteration of the Golf, the R has unique air intakes, different bumpers and side spats, four-pipe exhaust outlets.
The most-recent R -- discontinued during the 2013 model run; there is no 2014 -- had a starting price of $34,795 in the U.S. No word about U.S. pricing of the next-generation R
If VW keeps its promise, The Golf R should be the last model that puts the U.S. last on the launch list. Staggered launches are a source of aggravation for U.S. dealers and buyers, who don't like waiting for something on sale elsewhere. VW says it needs to finish a factory in Puebla, Mexico, in order to better synchronize U.S. launches with those elsewhere.
Once Puebla's done -- early next year, VW says -- production of Golf models for North and South America will be shifted there from Germany, making them available more-or-less simultaneously in all markets. Puebla will start production with the seventh-generation Golf, sometimes called G7, unveiled at the Paris Motor Show a year ago. The new R will be based on that new Golf.
Golf is VW's best-selling car worldwide,. but its sales in the U.S. are down more than 20% this year and are a fraction of VW's Jetta and Passat sales.