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Volkswagen details U.S.-market 2015 Golf R

The next-gen Golf R packs 290hp and a choice of manual or dual-clutch gearboxes.

Volkswagen is divulging the details of its U.S.-spec 2015 Golf R ahead of the hot hatch's official debut at next week's North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

Based on the seventh-generation Golf, the range-topping R model is equipped with a variation of the 2.0-liter TSI four-cylinder engine that is found in the engine bay of the Audi S3. Linked to either a six-speed manual transmission or an optional six-speed dual-clutch automatic, the four-banger sends power to all four wheels via the latest generation of Volkswagen's 4Motion all-wheel drive system.

Output is quoted at 290 horsepower - down six ponies from the European model - along with 280 lb-ft of torque. Even with the slight reduction in underhood muscle, the Golf R is comfortably ahead of the GTI's 210 horsepower, which should help to address complaints that the last-generation models were too similar in terms of performance.

Equipped with the six-speed manual gearbox, the Golf R sprints from zero to 62 mph in a claimed 5.3 seconds, while the dual-clutch transmission lowers the time to 4.9 seconds. Track-tuned brakes, a lowered and stiffened suspension and an optional three-mode active chassis help keep the cavalry in check.

Volkswagen says the stick-shifted Golf R will be able to hit 31 mpg on the highway, an improvement of four mpgs over its predecessor.

Inside, appointments will include Nappa leather upholstery, carbon-look trim and stainless-steel accents. A 5.8-inch touchscreen with proximity sensors - as with Cadillac's controversial CUE system, they sense approaching fingers and display additional icons - will be optional.

Pay no attention to the three-door Golf in the photos - Volkswagen plans to offer only the five-door model to American buyers.

Sales will begin in the first quarter of 2015, with pricing information expected to be revealed closer to that launch date.

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