Forget the year of the tiger – Volkswagen says 2022 will be the year of the R.
The brand will launch its first R-branded SUV in the Australian market, with the Tiguan R arriving in the first quarter of 2022.
It’ll launch alongside the redesigned Golf R hatchback and wagon.
Later in 2022, Volkswagen will add the T-Roc R to its burgeoning R line-up.
The introduction of the T-Roc R, first launched in Europe in 2019, will coincide with a mid-cycle refresh for the T-Roc line.
The T-Roc R is expected to use the current ‘EA888’ turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine.
The R-ified Golf, Tiguan and T-Roc all feature a seven-speed DSG dual-clutch automatic transmission and Volkswagen’s 4Motion all-wheel drive system.
The current T-Roc R and the new Tiguan R both do the 0-100km/h sprint in 4.9 seconds, while the Golf R hatchback cuts that to 4.7 seconds.
Volkswagen believes the new R-badged SUVs will do well, given Australia’s love of SUVs and R models alike.
“When we only had the Golf R, we were still numerically the third biggest R market in the world, behind only Germany and the UK with a population less than a third of those countries,” said a spokesperson from Volkswagen Group Australia.
“Having those performance SUVs in the market is definitely going to make a difference. I think that’s exactly where the market is.
“People feel like they have to have an SUV or they might like to have an SUV which emulates some of the characteristics of the cars they may now eschew because they feel they have to have an SUV for whatever reason.”
The T-Roc R and Tiguan R won’t face much in the way of direct competition, though one of the T-Roc R’s rivals will come from within the Volkswagen family.
We expect the Cupra brand, when it launches here in 2022, to offer its fettled version of the Seat Ateca.
Related to the Volkswagen T-Roc, the Cupra Ateca also uses a turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine with 221kW of power and 400Nm of torque, mated to a seven-speed dual-clutch auto and all-wheel drive.
The other key rival for the T-Roc R will be the front-wheel drive Hyundai Kona N, due here in the third quarter of 2021.
It uses a turbocharged 2.0-litre four producing 206kW and 392Nm, mated to an eight-speed dual-clutch auto.
It’ll feature launch control and an electronic limited-slip differential to control torque distribution to the front wheels.
There’s less direct competition for the Tiguan R, at least from mainstream brands.
Currently, the most powerful mainstream mid-sized SUV in Australia is the Ford Escape, which offers a 183kW/387Nm turbo 2.0-litre four in every variant.
Mazda offers an even torquier turbocharged 2.5-litre four-cylinder version of its CX-5, which produces 170kW of power and 420Nm of torque.
The impending arrival of the T-Roc R and Tiguan R leaves just two Volkswagen R models off-limits to Australia.
The updated Arteon will launch in the fourth quarter of 2021 in 140TSI Elegance and 206TSI R-Line models, but no plans have been announced for the Arteon R which uses the same powertrain as the Golf R and Tiguan R.
The plug-in hybrid Touareg R is off the table for Australia, as with all of the Volkswagen brand’s PHEVs.
It mates a 250kW turbocharged 3.0-litre V6 petrol engine with a 100kW electric motor, for total system outputs of 340kW and 700Nm.