The prototype had a full roll cage you obviously won't find on the production model.

[UPDATE] Additional spy shots have been added to the gallery, below.

The hotly anticipated Volkswagen Golf R is back in a fresh set of spy images taken at the Nürburgring where the all-wheel-drive hot hatch was undergoing final testing. You might be tempted to say the prototype doesn’t have any camouflage whatsoever, but there’s still some tape on the front and rear bumpers to conceal the final bodywork.

Having seen the GTI, GTE, and the GTD, we can’t help but notice the R doesn’t seem to have those five-point LED daytime running lights in the front bumper. Perhaps that’s not entirely surprising considering the internal slideshow that leaked onto the Internet to reveal the power outputs of all performance Golfs also showed the front and rear designs. The unreleased GTI TCR and the R lacked the extra lights of the other performance-oriented models.

Gallery: 2021 VW Golf R new spy photos from the Nürburgring

Also at the front, it’s easy to see the updated VW logo and a black piece of tape on the grille to conceal the revised R badge that has been applied on the front fenders where it’s sitting behind white tape. The blue brake calipers are showing the “R” at the front, so there’s no mystery regarding the type of Golf we’re looking at. The large wheels with fairly skinny tires along with the low ride height are also telltale signs we’re dealing with the cream of the crop.

I'll be honest and admit it’s the first time I’m noticing the B-pillars are carrying the “Volkswagen” lettering just so there’s no doubt about which car manufacturer is behind this hugely popular compact hatchback. The full roll cage is obviously not something the production car will have, and we think the side skirts are also partially covered.

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Moving at the back of the car, the quad exhaust system and the chunky roof-mounted spoiler will further separate the R from its lesser cousins. The prominent rear diffuser is an obvious clue the Golf being tested at the Nordschleife is the upcoming flagship version.

Reports say VW originally intended to use the RS3 Sportback’s 2.5-liter turbo engine, but Audi apparently didn’t want to pass along its iconic inline-five. Instead, the new Golf R will stick to the 2.0-liter four-pot formula, which in the new specification is said to deliver nearly 330 horsepower. Rumors of a more potent version persist, claiming somewhere along the lines of nearly 400 Wolfsburg ponies, but we’ll have to see about that.

VW has already confirmed it will introduce the Golf R later this year, but it hasn’t specified where there will be a wagon version this time around to cater to the European crowds.

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