Volkswagen's R performance division will add a seventh model to its ranks later this year when the Mk8 Golf R becomes available in estate form.
Set for a reveal towards the beginning of summer, the Golf R estate will join similarly conceived hot variants of the Arteon, Arteon Shooting Brake, Tiguan, T-Roc, Touareg and Golf hatchback in showrooms. This time two years ago, the R line-up comprised just the Golf hatch and Golf estate.
Spotted undergoing winter testing without any camouflage, the new arrival looks to be production ready. As expected, it will be told apart from the standard car primarily by way of its lower suspension, bespoke alloy wheels, bright blue brake calipers and quad-exit performance exhaust.
As part of the rapid range expansion, the R division has ushered in a more potent version of its time-honoured EA888 engine (for all models except the hybridised V6 Touareg R) alongside a raft of chassis tweaks, which put greater distance between R models and their standard counterparts.
As such, the Golf R estate will pack 316bhp and 310lb ft from the 2.0-litre turbo four, sent to both axles through a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox and distributed variably to each wheel by a race-inspired torque-vectoring system. It won't be quite as quick off the line as the smaller and lighter hatchback, but a sub-5.0sec 0-62mph time is expected.
Subtle chassis tweaks for the hatchback will almost certainly be rolled out to the wagon, with the aim of enhancing the R estate's dynamic performance. Front axle camber, for example, will be increased by 1.3deg, the stabiliser and spring rates by 10% and the front brake discs by 17mm. Elsewhere, the front subframe will be 3kg lighter than that of the previous car, while the braking system will shed 1.2kg of unsprung mass.
We have yet to see inside, but bespoke R division flourishes such as blue trim accents, a sports steering wheel, steel pedals and new display modes for the central touchscreen will feature. The estate will also likely be offered with the optional R Performance upgrade, which raises the top speed of the hatchback by 13mph and brings a bigger rear spoiler for improved downforce.