After running its sporty ID R electric car on several racing circuits around the world, and given that it has introduced its first hybrid R vehicle in the form of the Touareg R, it’s clear that Volkswagen's R Division is fully committed to the electrification process.
However, we’ve just learned that the next Golf R, based on the new eighth-generation Golf model, will not be offered in an electric version.
The news was delivered to Motor Trend magazine by the head of Volkswagen's R division, Jost Capito, in an interview published last week. The reason behind the decision is not the lack of a desire on the part of the company to produce an electric Golf R; rather it’s more of a budgetary nature. He explained that Volkswagen R simply doesn't have the funds to develop a high-performance hybrid powertrain exclusively for one of its cars. In the case of the Touareg R, the powertrain is a cousin to the one that serves Bentley's Bentayga hybrid.
As a result, the new Golf R, set to launch later this year in other markets and scheduled to debut in North America along with the GTI version a little later, is expected to stick with a 2.0L turbocharged 4-cylinder, like the previous generation model. However, power could be increased above the 292 hp of the old model. All-wheel drive and a dual-clutch transmission will also be part of the equation, but it's unclear at this point whether a manual transmission will still be offered. An omission in this regard would be sacrilege, frankly.
Though the powertrain is thus unlikely to be very different, Jost Capito added that the new Golf R will benefit from "a lot of small improvements", including the addition of technologies folks might not anticipate.
Volkswagen also unveiled the new GTI version of the Golf in early March. The Golf R is expected to make its debut this summer - if the industry can get back to normal in the near-future, of course.
Further down the road, it's still possible that the R division will launch its own electric sports car. Last May, Sven Smeets, head of Volkswagen's motorsports division, told the Motor Authority website that the company is looking to add an electric flagship to its R division. The division subsequently launched an electric Golf R concept.