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Here are a few pointers for those looking to buy a Golf mk4 R32....

The R32 was available as a 3-door or a 5-door in the following colours:

Deep Blue Pearl Effect ("electric blue") = 813 made

Diamond Black Pearl Effect (similar to Highline "Black Magic") = 755 made

Reflex Silver Metallic = 615 made

Indigo Blue Pearl Effect (a dark, navy blue) = 76 made

Moonlight Blue Pearl Effect (a very dark blue, almost black) = 57 made

Tornado Red = 44 made

Grey Anthracite Pearl Effect ("Gunmetal Grey") = 31 made

Deep blue, Diamond black & Reflex silver are by far the most common colours. Indigo Blue, Moonlight blue & Tornado red are much rarer. Grey Anthracite is extremely rare.

Climate control, 6-speed 'box, electric windows & mirrors, Gamma stereo with 6-disc in-dash changer, Xenon headlamps, headlamp washers & 1/2 leather / cloth heated seats were all standard. Options were:

- 1/2 leather / suede heated seats

- Full leather heated seats

- Sunroof (electrically operated)

- VW MFD Sat Nav (with boot-mounted 6 disc CD changer)

- Cruise control

- Space-saver spare wheel (otherwise you just get a 12v pump and a can of tyre repair foam)

VW MFD Sat Nav:


Instrument cluster on an R32 with factory sat-nav (note full-height central information display):


Instrument cluster on an R32 without factory sat nav (central information display only half-height):


Indicator stalk on a car with cruise control:


Half leather / cloth seats:


Full leather seats:


As standard, the R32 puts out 241BHP @ 6250RPM and 236lb-ft @2800RPM

At the time of writing, prices range from about £12,000 for tatty & high mileage examples, up to £17000 for complete minters on dealer forecourts. Sellers usually think their R32s are worth more than they actaully are. Buying a 2003 model with 30-40k on the clock privately you should be looking to pay no more than £14,500 (maybe £15k if it has factory sat nav)

You would have thought that on cars only 4-5 years old, serious problems would be quite rare. Think again. A lot of R32s out there have been run by younger blokes who can't afford to maintan them properly. This seems to be particularly true of the deep blue ones.

MAF sensor failure is common, resulting in a poor idle, throttle hesitation & lack of power. £400 to put right.

Failure of the radiator fans is also a common fault. With the climatronic set to "Auto", the radiator fans should run constantly at low speed (almost silent). If they do not turn, or keep alternating between off and high speed (noisy) then the fans are knackered and must be replaced at a cost of £450 (the parts alone are over £200).

Listen for clonking & clicking noises coming from the suspension as you go over bumps and manouver slowly at full lock. Failure of the front strut top mounts is partcularly common. I'm not sure how much this costs to put right, but I doubt it's cheap.

Beware of any R32 that has been lowered. This can knacker the diff over time.

Check that the Haldex oil was changed at 20k, or soon thereafter. This is a £150 job.

Many UK R32s suffered from a flat spot / hesitation between 2000 & 3000RPM. This was a VW recall item and the fix was to apply the VW 6463 update to the ECU. If the car exhibits jerky acceleration at 1/2 to 3/4 throttle between 2000 & 3000RPM chances are this update hasn't been done. Some dealers will do this update free of charge, even on out-of-warranty cars. See HERE for further information.

The flat spot should not be an issue on a remapped R32.

VAG-COM engine controller page on an ECU that has the 6463 update applied (note the 6463 in the "Component" field):


Milltek exhausts are a common mod. These have fatter tailpipes, sound very juicy and increase power a bit (especially in conjunction with an ECU remap). But be aware that there are two versions - one with a resonated centre section and one with a straight-through. The straight-through Milltek is VERY noisy and probably not what you want on a daily driver. You want the one with the resonated centre section. The resonated Milltek costs £600-£700 fitted, so there is money to be saved if you can find an R32 with one already fitted.

R32s were VERY popular with thieves. There are a lot of previously stolen/recovered ones that are recorded as CAT D. An HPI check is ESSENTIAL. A CAT D record knocks at least £2500 off the value of the car. An HPI check will also show you if the car has any finance still owing. Walk away if it does.

Vandal damage is also a problem with these. Look for keyscratches and badly repaired panel damage. The deep blue ones seem to incite the most jealousy, unfortunately.

The interior is standard mk4 stuff, apart from the Konig seats, the fatter steering wheel and a few bits of aluminium trim dotted about the place.. The 1/2 leather seats are very hard-wearing, but the full leather ones can suffer quite badly with bolster wear and unsightly sagging on the seat base.

Full leather seats showing bolster wear and sagging:


Fuel economy-wise, expect ~28mpg on the motorway and ~22mpg round town, averaging out at about 24-25mpg. Road tax (at the time of writing) is £205 a year.

I think that covers the main things. The R32 is a devastatingly effective point-to-point car and an almost perfect balance between performance, comfort & practicality. It has all the strengths of the Golf VR6 (lovely noise, exciting power delivery and that "unburstable" feeling), but none of its weaknesses (i.e. poor torque at low revs, lazy gear ratios and traction problems). Find a good one and you'll wonder how you could have ever driven anything else.

As I said, look at as many as you can before buying. Good luck!

If anyone else wants to share their experiences buying an R32 or has any further advice, please reply to this thread!

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this buyers guide should be similar for buying the 4motion as well as its a similar set up to the R32 ?

Some of it holds true for the 2.8 4Motion. The problem with the cooling fans, in particular, is common to all Golf mk4s.

As far as I know, a software update was never required for the 2.8, so no need to worry about that.

Haldex fluid should be changed every 20k on all 4wd Mk4s.

The guys on the UK-mkIVs forum compiled a nice list of common faults (for all models) that you can take a look at:


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