On June 1, racing manager and former Ford motorsports boss Jost Capito took over the Volkswagen R division from Ulrich Riestenpatt Gt. Richter, who had led the offshoot since its inception in 2009. The division has been responsible for several Volkswagen R models, most notably the VR6–powered Golf R32, the Passat R36 with an even more powerful VR6, and the V-10 TDI–powered Touareg R50. But those models were launched in the increasingly distant past.
More recently, Richter put Volkswagen R on a profitable track with the highly successful R-Line trim packages that are factory options added on the production line, but the release of true R models has slowed to a trickle. In fact, there is only one left now, the Golf R, while a 400-hp variant of that model we were promised was axed following the Dieselgate-related departure of former VW Group R&D chief Heinz-Jakob Neusser.
But now we are told that Volkswagen R is ready to make a major move. “Crush AMG” seems to be the battle cry, and we expect it to inspire a number of full-fledged R models, some of which likely will feature bodies modified beyond the usual bumpers and spoilers. There will be a new, more extreme Golf R and a T-ROC R, and we expect to see Tiguan R and Touareg R models as well. An Arteon R is also possible. With the exception of the Touareg, the models should be powered by ultra-high-output four-cylinder engines, although an Arteon R with a turbocharged, slightly downsized VR6 is a possibility.
As for the man leading this charge, Capito’s high-performance credentials include starting his career at Porsche before moving to the Sauber Formula 1 team. He took over Ford’s performance-vehicle activities in 2001 and led VW Motorsport between 2012 and 2016. He then joined McLaren as head of McLaren Racing in 2016 before returning to VW. It’s early into his tenure at VW R, but let’s hope these rumblings mean his experience is being put to good use.