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Volkswagen's top-flight Rabbit/Golf, the R32 has always had its fair share of diehard advocates, but the high-power hatch has largely failed to crack the stranglehold that Mitsubishi's Evo and Subaru's WRX STI have on the affordable all-wheel drive performance segment. That may be about to change.

Internally dubbed "R-Series Turbo,' the folks at AutoExpress are now suggesting that VW's pending performance model will be called R20 or R20T, alphanumeric nomenclatures that would appear to give away the hot hatch's engine displacement.

Prevailing rumors indicate that a version of the company's 2.0-liter turbo will replace the current R32's 3.2-liter V6. Despite the fall in displacement, the new drivetrain is tipped to make around 270 brake horsepower - more than 20 ponies above the current car, all while resulting in a lighter package to boot. AE suggests that the same engine (which will also find its way into a like-monikered version of the Scirocco) should be good for a 0-60 miles-per-hour time in around five seconds dead, and an artificially limited top end of 155 miles-per-hour. The UK publication further expects the car to be available with the buyer's choice of a six-speed manual or a DSG dual-clutch gearbox,.

The big question will be if the R20T puts down its power through just the front wheels, or all four. The current R32 makes good use of its all-wheel drive setup, but the entire range of Rabbits/Golfs have been chided for their hefty curb weight, and the highly-contented R32 has been no different. Dropping the AWD mechanicals would save weight, cost, and complexity, but also harm driveability and comparisons to the aformentioned Japanese competition.

Aesthetic upgrades look to be similar to the current R32, meaning a set of larger wheels and tires, an aero kit with flared arches, a rortier exhaust, and quite possibly some LED running lights cribbed from Audi's design sheet.

Will the R20T come to the States? We hope to learn more at next month's Geneva Motor Show, so stay tuned. In the meantime, check out the uncropped renderings at the link below as well as the high-res gallery of the current R32 below.


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