In September, Volkswagen made the odd decision to pull the R420 prototype out of the back of the garage for a run around the Nürburgring. Now, things have gotten even weirder because the one-off hot hatch made an appearance during the Scuderia Hanseat driving course at the Nordschleife. Why VW would run the machine at such an event is a complete mystery.
Until these most recent outings, we hadn't seen the R420 testing since September 2017. In general, the machine looks nearly identical to the Golf R, but the pair of oval exhaust outlets at the back identify this hot hatch as something special. Plus, VW's R420 prototype wears the WOB CB 242 license plate, which makes spotting the car a little easier.
The R420 is a prototype for a production version of VW's Golf R400 concept. It packs the 2.5-liter inline-five cylinder engine from vehicles like the Audi RS3 and reportedly makes 414 horsepower (309 kilowatts). All-wheel drive makes this significant amount of power more manageable.
The R420 project made it far enough into development to get at least one test mule. In the wake of Dieselgate, VW needed to cut costs, and an ultra-hot version of the Golf R was easy for the company to axe because the RS3 was such a similar vehicle.
It's not clear why the R420 test mule is hitting the Nordschleife once again, but the laps hint that at least someone within VW still has a passion for the machine. It's still possible that the automaker could put the vehicle on sale, but the model would likely need to be a limited run edition as a sendoff for the current generation Golf. The next gen of the popular hatchback begins production in June 2019 and goes on sale in the fourth quarter of the year.