Spies in Germany captured the 8th-generation Golf R Wagon (or Variant, as it's known overseas) in public. Disguised as an Alltrack, this prototype's true identity is revealed by its large wheels, low-profile tires and big, blue brakes. Even under camouflage, this is one mighty tempting piece of forbidden fruit.
While the cladding does a decent job of exaggerating this prototype's ride height, a closer look at what's inside those wheel arches tells the tale. The blue calipers are a dead giveaway that this is a VW performance model, and thanks to the visible axle nuts at all four corners, we know it's all-wheel drive. Throw in the quad-outlet exhaust, and there's really no question what it is we're looking at here.
Even with its hodgepodge of body panels, this R prototype is promising, especially given how ho-hum the base Golf Variant appeared early on. Unfortunately, we still don't know what to expect from the next-generation Golf R's powertrain, which this Variant will share with the hatchback version.
Preliminary reports have suggested that the next Golf R will produce somewhere between 315 and 330 horsepower, which would be a respectable bump over the 292 horses offered in the outgoing model. Rumors have pointed to an on-again, off-again "Plus" model based on the R400 concept with (appropriately) 400 hp, but until VW pulls the sheet off, we won't know for certain.
While the idea of an R wagon has pretty much been a non-starter for the U.S. market, the regular R is one of just two 8th-generation Golf models that will be sold here. It will be accompanied by its smaller sibling, the GTI; all non-enthusiast Golf models, sadly, are DOA.