Background car news Interview

Volkswagen secures future R-label: only electric Volkswagen R models!

January 23, 2024


It all started in the late 1990s, when Volkswagen decided to break new ground and create a special division that would focus exclusively on refining performance and adding a hefty dose of sportiness to Volkswagen’s models. A group of engineers and designers joined forces, laying the groundwork for Volkswagen R GmbH.

Initial research and developments

The years that followed were marked by intensive research and development. The teams worked in the deepest secrecy to perfect engines, suspensions and aerodynamics. Since 2002, Volkswagen R – known as “Volkswagen Individual” until 2010 – has stood for the sporty variants of well-known Volkswagen models.

R product brand

Since 2002, the letter “R” has been synonymous with top performance and sportiness at Volkswagen. Based in Warmenau near Wolfsburg, Volkswagen R GmbH – the subsidiary of Volkswagen AG – develops cars suitable for everyday use, for people with an unconditional passion for driving. Since 2020, Volkswagen R has been an independent company within the Volkswagen Group and bears full responsibility for the R product brand. Supervision for the sporty R-Line packages, which are very popular in the Netherlands and elsewhere, has remained with the respective product lines.

The R of Racing

“The ‘R’ stands for ‘Racing’ and concisely sums up this passion for motor racing,” Hakim Halimi says. “The impetus was provided by the Golf IV R32 with a six-cylinder engine, 4MOTION all-wheel drive and optional DSG dual-clutch transmission. It was the fastest and most powerful Golf Volkswagen had ever produced. Wolfsburg originally thought to build 5,000 of them, but it ended up being 12,000. The legend was born. It established R GmbH’s reputation as synonymous with ultra-sporty cars.”

Volkswagen R

Other models

After the Golf IV R32, more sporty variants entered the market, such as the R versions of the Golf 5 and 6, the Passat R36, the Touareg R50, the Scirocco R, the Golf R Cabriolet and Golf R Variant. Halimi: “More than 300,000 customers have chosen our high-performance cars in more than two decades. We have struck a chord with enthusiasts. On social media, we already have more than 6.5 million registered followers. Current demand and success in recent years show that Volkswagen R has successfully established itself as a premium performance brand since its launch in 2002.”

Volkswagen ID.R

In 2018, Volkswagen R entered a new motorsports era with the ID.R, the brand’s first-ever all-electric race car. The ID.R was created in just 250 days, with a clear goal in mind: to participate in the legendary Pikes Peak International Hill Climb race in the U.S. state of Colorado. In the demanding “Race to the Clouds,” the ID.R rushed across the finish line in 7:57.148 minutes after 19.99 kilometers, a 1,440-meter climb and 156 turns – a new and stunning overall record for the event.

The future of R

With 350 employees, Volkswagen R GmbH is a relatively small business unit. The people who work there all have gasoline in their blood, Halimi says. Although in the future, the term “gasoline” no longer covers the load. “Within the framework of Volkswagen’s corporate strategy, ACCELERATE, we are focusing intensively on the topic of ‘electric mobility’ and are making our contribution to ‘Way to Zero.’ This decade we will mainly see an interplay of combustion engines, hybrid cars like the new Touareg R with its V6 turbo gasoline engine supported by an electric motor, and fully electric models.”

Halimi added: “Surveys show that 85 percent of Volkswagen R customers are very interested in electric mobility. Volkswagen R is transforming itself into an all-electric premium performance brand by 2030. We are currently evaluating various concepts and options, but will only offer R models that meet our requirements. Of course, I cannot and should not say too much about it, but one thing is certain: the future of R is electric.”

Volkswagen R