Find of the Day: Under-Driven and Under-Priced R32

This week’s Find of the Day comes to us from the land of hipsters: Brooklyn, New York. But any hipster worth his weight in trim cut flannel shirts wouldn’t be caught dead in this car. Heck, he wouldn’t even like it ironically. Today’s FOTD is pure performance: a low priced 2004 R32.

To the casual observer, this Volkswagen may look like any sensible hatchback. Your own mother might think it’s a completely rational and practical car. But enthusiasts see the more aggressive front air dam, the large multi-spoke alloy wheels, and the dual exhaust and know this is no simple Golf. No, this is the highly revered R32 Golf. That one letter and two numbers denote a real performance machine.

To start, the star of the show here is the 3.2 liter narrow-angle 24-valve six-cylinder engine. This robust power plant puts out 240 horsepower and 236 lbs of torque. The VR6 is known not only for its grunt, but also for the melodious sounds it makes, and a downright gorgeous growl from the exhaust. To add to the fun, it puts all that power down through a Haldex all-wheel-drive system that sends power to the rear wheels when the fronts slip. And it’s all tied together by a six-speed manual transmission, which was the only one available back in 2004.

R32’s aren’t known for gonzo performance: they’re famous for refined performance. For those looking for extreme performance, there were plenty of choices. But STI’s and Evo’s were rough around the edges with punishing rides, excessive noise, and cheap plasticky interiors. Much like the GTI, the R32 was a great “all-rounder.”

This R32 appears to be in very good condition. One of its best features is its lack of miles; this one has only 64,000 on the odo. The low use shows in many ways. The paint is nice and shiny. There’s no dents or dings. And the interior shows very little wear. The seller states there are no dash lights on, and the car “drives perfect.” Despite all this, he’s asking a low $12,500. A quick search shows only two cars nationwide with less than 75,000 miles; one is $16,500 and the other is $21,000. This R32 is a steal.

With only 5,000 of these all-wheel-drive rockets brought here, they’re becoming rarer by the day. So if you’re looking for a refined ride with tons of performance, this could be the car for you. Take a look at the ad on craigslist. Or head to Brooklyn, take it for a test drive and wave at the hipsters on their fixie bikes as you blast past them with an aggressive growl emanating from the tailpipes.