2012 Volkswagen Golf R
Volkswagen Golf R – Click above for high-res image gallery

As part of its 2011 Geneva Motor Show festivities, Volkswagen is letting us loose behind the wheel of its range-topping Golf R, set to arrive in United States as a 2012 model. Production of the Stadeside-spec car begins at the automaker's Wolfsburg plant this November, and we've just learned how different our version of the Golf R will be from the model that's already on sale in Europe.

Don't worry – we're still getting the same 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine mated to the company's fourth-generation Haldex 4Motion all-wheel-drive system. But while the European car cranks out 270 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque, Volkswagen tells us that the U.S. car will produce something closer to 256 hp and 243 lb-ft (not yet confirmed). Still, that's 56 hp and 36 lb-ft more than the standard GTI, and since the Golf R is estimated to weigh around 3,300 pounds – 250 pounds lighter than the most recent R32 – the end result should be quite lively. Volkswagen is estimating that 0-62 mile-per-hour times will fall somewhere in the 5.7- to 5.9-second range.

As we reported earlier, the Golf R will only be offered with a six-speed manual transmission when it hits our shores. European cars can be had with Volkswagen's slick-shifting DSG unit, and we must admit, not offering the twin-clutch setup in the States seems like a curious omission, especially when you consider that the take rate on DSG in the less powerful GTI is around 50 percent. Still, Volkswagen says that its research with different enthusiast groups and dealers suggests that the vast majority of U.S. consumers have been clamoring for a row-your-own Golf R, and since the automaker had to keep the number of build options to a minimum in order to get the vehicle approved for American consumption, manual-only was the way they decided to go.

Follow the jump for more details on the U.S.-spec version of Volkswagen's Golf R hot hatch.


Related GalleryVolkswagen Golf R


On the subject of reducing the number of build configurations, all U.S. Golf Rs will be outfitted almost exactly the same way. The only options available will be a choice of two and four doors, as well as a package that incorporates things like a sunroof, navigation, smart key and the Dynaudio sound system. We will not be able to spec the Golf R with the super-supportive motorsport-designed seats available in Europe (a €3,800 option – over $5,200 USD, for what it's worth), and all Golf R interiors will be leather only. Sadly, the Euro-spec LED taillamps will not be carried over to the U.S. Golf R, as well.

As for pricing, Volkswagen is targeting a base MSRP of around $33,000 – right about where the 2008 R32 was priced. During the Golf R's run here in the U.S., Volkswagen hopes to move about 5,000 of the little hot hatches – in total, not annually. If demand meets or exceeds supply, Volkswagen will have a better case for bringing a next-generation Golf R to our shores, as well. We'll be driving the Golf R later this week in Europe, so stay tuned for our full report.