By on October 7, 2019

Volkswagen has revealed an updated R logo that it says will still symbolize performance while also representing the brand’s “fresh start” — its refocus on electric vehicles, rather than the diesel ones that got it into trouble back in 2015.

VW similarly rejiggered is brand’s main logo, eliminating its three-dimensional aspects for a streamlined version highly reminiscent of the symbol used through the 1970s, debuting the new (old?) design at this year’s Frankfurt Motor Show. But the R’s transformation has resulted in something entirely novel, abandoning the leftmost vertical line in favor of an abstracted representation of the letter.

However, tweaking the visuals of a single character doesn’t have much meaning in itself. All we really care about is whether or not the R badge will still denote the maximum performance available from various VW models.

“The R marks the athletic apex of our model program and the R logo serves as an expression of both aesthetics and sportsmanship,” Klaus Bischoff, Head of Volkswagen Design, said in a statement. “At the same time, it is gaining in terms of both clarity and charisma, as is the new Volkswagen brand logo.”

That’s a vague “yes” from VW, then. The letter R will continue to denote the brand’s more-aggressive vehicles — starting with the Atlas Cross Sport R-Line later this month. Volkswagen also said the emblem will be used for full-fledged R models, like the Golf R.

The old R can be seen here:

Unfortunately, we don’t know when to expect that next Golf R. The hot hatch is scheduled to be absent for the 2020 model year, only to return once the manufacturer has the Mk8 Golf sorted out. That leaves the R-Line using the badge exclusively for a year or two. They’re not exactly raucous automobiles, with most receiving a subtle appearance package and a bit more standard equipment than one might find on the base trim. It’s a case of being more performance inspired than performance oriented.

As for the new emblem, beauty is always in the eye of the beholder. One could make the argument that the new R offers a subtlety that complements the reserved styling VW is known for. Then again, the German brand’s styling could be subtle enough already and in desperate need of a bold icon that clearly signifies something special. While not an issue for R-Line cars, true R models would be losing something. We doubt most onlookers will even recognize the logo as anything other than a couple of wavy lines.

Hopefully Volkswagen goes the extra mile to distinguish R-Line models from the more legitimate performance vehicles. While plenty of of us like flying well below the radar, most drivers prefer to show where their money was spent.

[Images: Volkswagen Group]

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