Volkswagen R started in 2002 with the Golf R32. Then the Passat R sedan/wagon came along in 2008, followed a year later by the Scirocco R, while the Polo R WRC landed in 2013. In recent years, "R" has even been used for hot versions of the Arteon and T-Roc, Tiguan, and Touareg SUVs. But in 2024, VW wants R to evolve into an independent brand.

The plan is to open a dedicated Volkswagen R section at the Autostadt theme park in Wolfsburg. If you haven't been there already, it’s a visitor attraction located near the company’s factory, similar in philosophy to the BMW Welt in Munich. Annually, about two million people visit the Autostadt and its multiple pavilions dedicated to VW Group brands, from Skoda and SEAT to Audi and Lamborghini. An R pavilion spanning 1,076 square feet will join them this summer.

Volkswagen R

Fans of hot VWs will have the opportunity to check out concept cars and limited-run production models. Inevitably, there will be electric performance models on display. VW says the R lineup will gradually evolve in the coming years with amped-up EVs in the works. The process has already started with the Touareg R—complete with a plug-in hybrid V-6 powertrain.

However, there's still life left in the ol' internal combustion engine. The Golf R facelift is coming out this summer but sadly without a manual gearbox. That won't be such a dealbreaker in Europe where the Mk8 was never offered with three pedals but the stick shift will be missed by enthusiasts in the US.

VW’s decision to distance R (originally called Volkswagen Individual GmbH) from the main brand started in 2020 when it became a separate business unit. Elsewhere within the VW Group, SEAT went a step further with its US-bound Cupra spin-off marque by introducing standalone models. Audi Sport is also a separate entity within Audi.

2025 Volkswagen Golf R with camouflage

As to what the future entails, VW has said the ninth-gen Golf will be exclusively electric. Will that be the first electric R? Time will tell, but we're likely going to see an electric GTI first. Spicy EVs are already part of the company's portfolio since the GTX models have more power, including even the ID. Buzz GTX minivan.

In the meantime, R is doing better than ever as more than 35,000 cars were produced in 2023, a record for the brand. Since 2002, over 300,000 R-badged vehicles have been sold.

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