Volkswagen has been caught testing its five-cylinder Golf R prototype at the Nürburgring Nordschleife again, leading to speculation that the Wolfsburg-based brand could be preparing a special hyper-hatch swansong to its seventh-generation model.

Of course, the Golf R400 didn’t ever make it to production, with news of its demise (seemingly at the hands of Dieselgate) making headlines back in April 2016. Subsequent reports suggested that the Golf R400 could be revived, but likely only in the eighth generation.

But this latest footage shows the all-wheel-drive Golf R prototype (again using a seventh-generation body) returning to the ‘Ring, running Audi's 2,5-litre five-cylinder unit (you can clearly hear it in the video below, seemingly mated to a dual-clutch transmission).

It seems unlikely that the standard version of the eighth-generation Golf R will employ this five-cylinder engine, leading to speculation that VW could be cooking up a hardcore Golf 7 special-edition to see off this generation.

If this is indeed the case, Volkswagen is running out of time to introduce this swansong, what with Golf 8 production due to commence in June 2019.

Watch the video below...