Don't blame Dieselgate alone for the R400 concept's demise.
The eighth generation Volkswagen Golf is just around the corner, slated to debut next September at Frankfurt. The next-gen GTI hot hatch should come shortly thereafter. But what about a new Golf R? One thing for certain is that it’s coming but we don’t have a precise date just yet. There are a few things we already know about it, such as it’ll make around 300 hp. But why not more?
Speaking to Top Gear, VW R division chief Jost Capito said the German automaker realized Golf R buyers are not interested in a hot hatch with that much power. One way this information came about was from the Golf R400 concept.
"We did research and customers don’t want it,” he said. "They want around 300 horsepower and a price tag below 50,000 euros. To move to 400 horsepower you lose 50 percent of the sales volume and increase the cost of ownership.”
Previously, we were told the main reason why the R400 will remain only a concept was due to budget cutbacks as a result of Dieselgate settlements and other emissions-related problems. A niche model like a 400-hp hot hatch with a high price tag for a limited number of buyers simply didn’t make sense at the time. As it turns out, fortunately for VW, the buyers weren’t there in the first place. No doubt it would have been great to see a production-spec 400 hp hot hatch but like for any vehicle, there has to be a business case.
On the plus, business is still going strong for the Golf R and VW has no intention of losing to the competition when its successor arrives. "The crown jewel of performance in a Golf remains Golf R,” Capito added. "We don’t want to take hybrids to a ridiculous strength. A hybrid needs to be affordable, and have an ecological reasoning. It’s not just for performance. The GTE is an alternative choice for a GTI customer, and that will remain. The performance king will remain a Golf R, and the Golf 8 R is going to be fantastic.”