2022 Volkswagen Golf GTI

2022 Volkswagen Golf GTI
2022 Volkswagen Golf GTI Rearward Vision 1
2022 Volkswagen Golf GTI Dashboard

2022 Volkswagen Golf GTI Test Drive Review: Rage Against The Dying Of The Light

by Jake Lingeman

Few hot hatches command the same respect as the Volkswagen Golf GTI.

The hot hatch segment is dying in the USA, we've been hearing that for years now, and it's true. They've been trampled by crossovers and SUVs, which offer more space, close to the same fuel economy, a commanding driving position, and easier exit and entry. But the Golf GTI is one of the stalwarts of the segment, entering its eighth generation for the 2022 model year and continuing a long legacy that spans decades. It's not alone in the segment as Hyundai still sells the Veloster N, while the Honda Civic Type R is now overpowered and playing in Golf R territory.

The regular Golf hatchback isn't on the menu for an American audience in Mk8 guise, but the GTI lives on, retaining the Mk7's EA888 2.0-liter turbocharged engine, now making 241 horsepower and 273 lb-ft of torque. Those numbers are up from the last iteration by 13 hp and 15 lb-ft of torque. As before, the GTI remains a FWD hot hatch, with power routed through either a six-speed manual or seven-speed dual-clutch transmission.

The dynamic chops are better than ever, but a new, flashy infotainment system is threatening to make the user experience painful through a lack of knobs and physical controls.

Read in this review:

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2022 Volkswagen Golf GTI Changes: What’s The Difference vs The 2021 Golf GTI?

The new Golf GTI is the eight-generation of its kind but isn't an entirely different beast from the Mk7 that preceded it. Underneath you get the same MQB chassis and the same 2.0-liter turbo engine, albeit with more power this time around.

The exterior styling is immediately identifiable but features a more dramatic aesthetic with resculpted LED headlights, extruded LED daytime running lights, and a chequered-flag design for the front fogs. The interior now features VW's Innovision Cockpit with a 10.25-inch digital instrument panel and an available 10-inch infotainment/navigation screen.

Pros and Cons

  • Beautiful balance
  • Lots of mid-range torque
  • Practical interior
  • Stylish cabin
  • Not the quickest performance hatch
  • It will always live in the shadow of the Golf R
  • Fussy infotainment system

What's the Price of the 2022 Volkswagen Golf GTI?

The price of the Volkswagen Golf GTI starts at an MSRP of $29,545 excluding tax, registration, and a destination fee of $995. This gets you the six-speed manual gearbox. The mid-range SE sees a notable jump in price to $34,295, and finally, the top of the range Autobahn costs $37,995. Speccing the seven-speed DSG on any model adds $800. For reference, the more hardcore 2021 Honda Civic Type R only starts at $37,895, and the turbocharged Mazda 3 AWD will top out at $33,900.

Best Deals on 2022 Volkswagen Golf GTI

2022 Volkswagen Golf GTI Trims

See trim levels and configurations:

Trim Engine Transmission Drivetrain Price (MSRP)
2.0L Turbo Inline-4 Gas
6-Speed Manual
7-Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
2.0L Turbo Inline-4 Gas
6-Speed Manual
7-Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
2.0L Turbo Inline-4 Gas
6-Speed Manual
7-Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
See All 2022 Volkswagen Golf GTI Trims and Specs

2022 Golf GTI Exterior

2022 Volkswagen Golf GTI Front Angle View CarBuzz 2022 Volkswagen Golf GTI Rearward Vision CarBuzz 2022 Volkswagen Golf GTI Front View CarBuzz
2022 Volkswagen Golf GTI Front Angle View
2022 Volkswagen Golf GTI Rearward Vision
2022 Volkswagen Golf GTI Front View
See All 2022 Volkswagen Golf GTI Exterior Photos


  • Length 168.8 in
  • Wheelbase 103.6 in
  • Height 57.6 in
  • Max Width 70.4 in
  • Front Width 60.4 in
  • Rear Width 59.6 in
  • Curb Weight 3,113.0 lbs

Exterior Colors

  • Oryx White Pearl +$395
  • Moonstone Gray +$395
  • Kings Red Metallic +$395
  • Pomelo Yellow Metallic, Very limited production - launch only - 700 uniits +$395
  • Deep Black Pearl
  • Reflex Silver Metallic
  • Atlantic Blue Metallic

2022 Golf GTI Performance

2022 Volkswagen Golf GTI Driving Front Angle Volkswagen 2022 Volkswagen Golf GTI Driving Back View Volkswagen 2022 Volkswagen Golf GTI Engine Volkswagen
2022 Volkswagen Golf GTI Driving Front Angle
2022 Volkswagen Golf GTI Driving Back View
2022 Volkswagen Golf GTI Engine

Engine and Transmission

  • Engine
    2.0L Turbo Inline-4 Gas
  • Transmissions
    6-Speed Manual, 7-Speed Automatic
  • Drivetrain

Handling and Driving Impressions

We tested the 2022 GTI in the Blue Ridge Mountains and the surrounding area just outside of trendy Asheville, North Carolina, and found it perfectly suited to the tight, medium-speed, twisty backroads. The front-wheel-drive GTI features a coil-spring suspension with antiroll bars front and back. The models we tested had the company's adaptive damping too, along with its XDS electronic differential lock.

All of that makes the GTI turn in quickly, without much body movement. The steering is weighted nicely, but there isn't a lot of road feel. Grip is high courtesy of new 19-inch wheels shod in Bridgestone Potenza tires, and with that front differential, the GTI is rapid when exiting corners. As the weight (and grip) shifts to the outside front wheel, more power is fed to it, virtually pushing the car in towards the apex. In the sportier modes, besides the suspension getting stiffer, the stability control and locking differential let the driver have more freedom to slip around before jumping in and saving them.

There is one weird thing that we'd like to mention here. It's about the lane assist system. It's activated when the car is turned on and normally gives you a little nudge if you're exiting the lane. On these fast, curvy roads it would "see" the turn coming and push you closer to the inside. We'll grant that it did actually help a few times, but more often surprised us as we were setting up for the corner.

As for the adaptive dampers, there was a little more bounciness in Sport mode than in Normal or Comfort, but it was barely noticeable. Those drive modes, changed with a button under the infotainment screen, changing the steering weight, throttle programming, and shift algorithms on the automatic cars.

2022 Golf GTI Interior

2022 Volkswagen Golf GTI Steering Wheel Design CarBuzz 2022 Volkswagen Golf GTI Front Seats CarBuzz 2022 Volkswagen Golf GTI Back Seats CarBuzz
2022 Volkswagen Golf GTI Steering Wheel Design
2022 Volkswagen Golf GTI Front Seats
2022 Volkswagen Golf GTI Back Seats
See All 2022 Volkswagen Golf GTI Interior Photos

Seating and Interior Space

  • Seating capacity
  • Front Leg Room 41.2 in
  • Front Head Room 38.5 in
  • Rear Leg Room 35.0 in
  • Rear Head Room 38.1 in

2022 Golf GTI Trunk and Cargo Space

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2022 Volkswagen Golf GTI Trunk Space
2022 Volkswagen Golf GTI Gearbox Switches
2022 Volkswagen Golf GTI Air Vents
  • Maximum Cargo Space
    34.5 ft³

2022 Golf GTI Safety and Reliability


  • Basic:
    4 Years \ 50,000 Miles
  • Drivetrain:
    4 Years \ 50,000 Miles
  • Corrosion:
    7 Years \ 100,000 Miles
  • Roadside Assistance:
    3 Years \ 36,000 Miles
  • Maintenance:
    2 Years \ 20,000 Miles

US NHTSA Crash Test Result

NHTSA safety ratings are not available at this time.

Verdict: Is the New Volkswagen Golf GTI Hatchback A Good car?

The 2022 Golf GTI is the first model year of the new eighth-generation hatch, but because VW has refined this thing dozens of times over more than 40 years, that doesn't worry us. It's the hatchback that debatably created the hot hatch market and for that alone it deserves a long hard look. We'll admit that although there are a smaller number of these cars on the market, they're the best they've ever been.

The evolved EA888 engine makes it worth the cost of admission, with almost the perfect amount of power for tons of fun on the street without stopping at a gas station every few blocks. With that in mind, the combination of space and utility in this GTI, plus the price and fun factor, put this car on our shortlist of daily drivers if we were buying today.

One question we have to ask ourselves is this, is the Mk8 GTI really much better than the Mk7? Handling-wise, yes, it's purer and feels more organic, but the materials are now flimsy, the tech is overly complex, and you still pay top-dollar for a car that now feels cheaper than before.

What Volkswagen Golf GTI Model Should I Buy?

The 2022 GTI comes in three well-equipped trims with an affordable base price. You get lots of standard features (18-inch wheels, keyless entry, the maddening climate control, 30-color ambient lighting), and a few extras. We like the SE the best, which starts at $35,290 because of the adaptive front lighting, the bigger infotainment screen and navigation, wireless apps and the better stereo. For the test, VW only had the top Autobahn trim to sample, and though we love the summer tires (its only option), out here in the Midwest we'd want the all-seasons anyway.

The best things about the GTI are the engine, chassis, and seats. And you get all of those as standard. If you do want the bells and whistles, that's fine too, but you won't be ruing the decision if you buy a base model. No matter what you'll be loving every grocery store, school run, and road trip behind the wheel.

Check out other Volkswagen Golf Styles

2022 Volkswagen Golf GTI Comparisons

Honda Civic Si Sedan CarBuzz
Volkswagen Golf R
CompetitorHorsepowerMPGPrice (MSRP)
Volkswagen Golf GTI241 hp23/32 mpg$30,530
Honda Civic Si Sedan 200 hp27/37 mpg$28,800
Volkswagen Golf R 315 hp20/28 mpg$44,740

2022 Volkswagen Golf GTI vs Honda Civic Si Sedan

Honda offers two performance versions of the Civic. We're still waiting for the new-generation Type R to officially debut, but until then, the performance torch is borne by the Civic Si Sedan. The 2022 Civic Si Sedan is powered by a 1.5-liter turbocharged inline-four-cylinder engine producing 200 horses and 192 lb-ft of torque. Power is sent to the front wheels via a six-speed manual. Its smaller engine capacity helps it beat the GTI in terms of fuel economy with figures of 30 mpg combined to the GTI's 28 mpg effort. But that's the only performance benefit the Honda has, as its deficit in displacement, power, and torque show that it really isn't in the same league as the GTI is. Honda knows this, which is why it costs only $27,300, more than $2,000 less than the base GTI. It's a softer experience on road but has benefits in terms of more rear passenger space and a more intuitive infotainment system.

Ultimately, you buy the GTI for its outright performance, while the Civic Si is a more subdued option for those who enjoy spirited driving but don't make it the crux of their buying decision. For us, the GTI reigns supreme in this competition.

See Honda Civic Si Sedan Review

2022 Volkswagen Golf GTI vs Volkswagen Golf R

There was a time when the GTI was the elite performance VW, but that role now belongs to the mighty Golf R. This AWD beast punches above its weight division and is the car to go for if you want all-out performance. A 2.0-liter turbocharged engine also powers the Golf R but produces 315 hp and up to 295 lb-ft of torque if you select the DSG transmission. You get 280 lb-ft with the manual. Because power is sent to all four wheels, the R is an entirely different animal on the road; it hooks up and launches out of the hole with anger, and loves to cling on in the bends, no matter the speed. The R will launch to 60 mph in the mid-four-second range. It gets standard adaptive dampers, and the AWD system has torque vectoring and a Drift mode.

Inside, you can expect the same cabin layout and general tech with unique trim options to set this car apart from the regular GTI. Price-wise, the R starts at $43,645, making it circa $14k more expensive. If we had the money, we'd go for the R every day of the week. If you're looking for a hot hatch, why not go for the hottest one there is?

See Volkswagen Golf R Review

2022 Volkswagen Golf GTI Video Reviews

Check out some informative Volkswagen Golf GTI video reviews below.

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