2008 Volkswagen R32
(aka "Blue Bunny")

What the heck is an R32?

It's a highly modified version of the venerable Rabbit / Golf / GTI platform. Production is limited to just 5,000 in the USA (the "Blue Bunny" is #749 / 5,000). Powered by a normally aspirated (no turbo) 3.2 liter VR6 motor, the stock R32 develops 250 HP at the crank, with 236 ft lbs of torque at 2,800 RPM. The flat torque curve makes the car relatively easy to drive fast, as the power band is wide and "always there".

The R32 is all wheel drive, which does a couple things over the stock GTI

US 2008 R32s are only available with a six-speed automated dual-clutch manual transmission (VW's direct-shift gearbox, or DSG). True "manual" die-hard fans miss the 3rd pedal, but the DSG is the way of the future. This is no ordinary "slush box", it very much relies on the clutches for engagement. At wide open throttle, the shifts are as quick as 8 mSec.

Front Brake Disc - 13.6"
0-60 mph time - 5.8 seconds
Top speed - 130 mph (limited, stock). As modified, 160 mph

List of modifications from stock






VagCom Programming:

Left - The Blue Bunny accelerates through 90 mph exiting the chicane on the front straight of Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, CA

Yeah, yeah, so how does it drive?

My R32 is my daily driver, and I put about 70 miles a day on it. Despite all this "track ready" stuff, it actually drives pretty smooth. It passes the "wife test" - she can drive it without issue, though she tends to stay below 3,500 RPM. It's when you really start to push it that the car comes alive. At 3,500, the exhaust note is a dull snarl that becomes a heady roar near redline.

It's a very well-balanced "driver's machine" that rewards the driver that pays attention to it. In "box stock" form, it has a slight tendency to understeer, though not as much as a GTI. You can feel the AWD pushing the rear end around, fighting / negating the understeer. Upgrading the Haldex (center differential) and adding a stiffer rear sway bar get the rear end "stepping out" a bit more and gets me back in the "RWD, right foot controls the spin/yaw" mode I grew up on.

I should maybe back up and explain how I got here. I've been a Mercedes man for the last twenty years, running four iterations of the big "S class" sedans with V8 motors. I'd buy them at 150,000 miles or so and run them to 300,000 before "recycling" them through my mechanic. I still have an '86 560 SEL with 317,000 miles on it; though I'll probably dump it soon. These big Mercedes offer decent comfort, extreme high speed stability, and they'll actually "get up and dance" if you push them hard enough and know what you're doing. My wife drives a 2006 Mini Cooper S; it has a manual tranny and a supercharger.

I ended up spending six months driving her MCS due to some odd circumstances of the keys being stolen in a burglary and our desire to keep the car at a different house. The Mini is a blast, but it has massive torque steer when you drive it hard. And of course it understeers at the limit, at least stock.

January of 2007, we found ourselves in a new house in a hilltop neighborhood. We got snowed in for eight days. Our 300 foot common driveway with four other houses is the favorite "sledding hill" for the neighborhood kids! The Mini and my two Mercedes 560 SEL's were completely useless in the face of this snow. The "Treasurer" (Mrs. Peach) decreed that my next car needed to be all wheel drive. We both have an illogical aversion to SUV's, so I started shopping for AWD sports cars. The 2008 R32 was on the autoshow circuit in February 2007. I remembered my car nut buddy extolling the virtues of the 2004 R32 as sort of the ultimate sleeper / driver's car, so that got me interested. I test drove a GTI and an Audi A3 / 3.2 / Quattro to get the feel for an R32, and I put my money down as a deposit for one to be delivered six months later.

As luck would have it, we didn't get any snow that year.....

The following year, the R32 proved itself a pretty capable snow warrior, as long as the fresh snow doesn't exceed the ground clearance by much. I found out the hard way that the aero skirt / skid plate is a little flimsy (ripped it up in a left turn lane full of icy slush) and I replaced it with the Diesel Geek Panzer Plate.

I've had a handful of "trancendent moments" in my R32 in the snow. One was roaring my way up an urban freeway on-ramp in heavy snow with my daughter Sarah on-board. We swept out of the 180 degree entrance and throttled up for the uphill climb up the two lane ramp. Holding the R on the "knife edge" of control at a 45 degree slip angle for about 500 feet with the exhaust roaring and all four tires clawing was just one of those things that is perhaps beyond description. Sarah gave me a look and said something like, "Oh my god, this thing is great in the snow!" and I had to agree with her. Another was making a high speed run to Sisters, OR through the mountain passes that are sometimes blocked by snow. There are few passing opportunities, so you take the ones you get, even it means passing in an outside corner at 80 mph with snow between the lanes and oncoming traffic. The R32 didn't break a sweat.

Photos from 2009 Fastivus Track Day

Photos from 2009 SoCal Fall Classic Track Day

Racing at Buttonwillow

Portland International Raceway - Audi Club Quattrofest 2011

Oregon Raceway Park (ORP) - Audi Club Veloren Gehen 2012

Monroe Autocross - Audi Club Quattrocross 2012

Pacific Raceways - 2012

The Ridge - 2012

Willow Springs, Fastivus - 2012

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