by Jay Traugott
Volkswagen will no longer sell the regular Golf hatchback in North America, but its high-performance variants live on. Alongside the acclaimed GTI, there's a certain other Golf that takes the GTI's performance capabilities even higher and tacks on standard all-wheel-drive. The Volkswagen Golf R is that hot hatch and it's all-new for 2022. The German automaker has just officially revealed its new AWD fun machine and the specs are might impressive.
As Volkswagen continues its quest towards electric vehicles, it still refuses to ignore its small but important group of enthusiast customers. That's why the Jetta GLI, Golf GTI, and now Golf R are still in existence. Now that the Ford Focus RS has been permanently retired, the previous generation Golf R's most formidable foe is simply no longer there. The 2022 Golf R has the AWD hot hatch segment all to itself in the US.
2.0L Turbo 4 Cylinder Gas
From the outside, the Golf R, once again, looks an awful lot like the GTI, but there are some differences. There's an R-exclusive front bumper with a motorsport-style splitter, air intake grilles with gloss black trim, and a blue crossbar on top of the radiator grille with an LED strip that lights up once the engine starts. This strip even stretches into the fenders where it also does double duty as the daytime running lights.
Other unique styling cues include 19-inch aluminum-alloy wheels wearing summer performance tires, blue brake calipers, side skirts, matte chrome exterior caps with the 'R' logo, and a standard sunroof. The hatchback also sits 0.8-inches lower to the ground than the regular Golf.
At the back, the rear bumper incorporates a diffuser, while the standard sport exhaust system features chrome-plated twin tailpipes. There's also a functional roof spoiler. Three unique exterior colors are available: Lapiz Blue Metallic (pictured here), Pure White, and Deep Black Pearl Effect.
Compared to the outgoing model, the new Golf R's interior has become a more sophisticated place to be thanks to digitized controls and displays. The Discover Pro infotainment system and Configurable Digital Cockpit instrument panel come standard, while a 10-inch touchscreen greets the driver upon entering with a special welcome display.
Drivers and front-seat passengers benefit from Nappa leather-covered sport seats with a cool carbon fiber look and blue side accents. There's also an 'R' logo in the backrest. The heated sport steering wheel is also wrapped in leather and boasts touch controls while the DSG transmission shift paddles are located at each side. There's even a special R button enabling direct selection for the available driving modes.
Other notable standard items include brushed stainless-steel pedal caps and ambient lighting with a total of 30 colors for the dash panel and doors.
The Golf R comes powered by a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine that's good for 315 horsepower and 310 lb-ft of torque. That's a 27 hp and 30 lb-ft increase over the outgoing model. And yes, the new Golf R will be offered with a six-speed manual transmission in the US while the seven-speed DSG dual-clutch gearbox is optional.
Power, of course, is directed to all four wheels through VW's 4Motion all-wheel-drive system that distributes power between each of the rear wheels for improved performance driving. Up to 100 percent of the torque can be sent to the outside wheel in tight corners, thus reducing understeer and overall better handling.
The automaker is claiming a 0-62 mph time of 4.7 seconds and a top speed, likely electronically limited, of 155 mph. To compare, the Honda Civic Type R requires 5.7 seconds to hit 62 mph, but it's important to remember it's FWD-only. Braking power comes courtesy of two-piston aluminum front calipers that reduce mass by 60 percent on each side. Thanks to its Nurburgring tuning, there's Special and Drift driving profiles along with Comfort, Sport, Race, and Individual.
Volkswagen has not yet announced official pricing, though we don't expect it'll differ significantly from the outgoing model's $40,395 starting price. To compare, the 2021 Golf GTI begins at around $35,000.
As previously mentioned, the 2021 VW Golf R lacks any direct AWD hot hatch rival now that the Ford Focus RS is out of the picture. But it's also important not to ignore the Honda Civic Type R and Hyundai Veloster N. Another rival worth taking a look at is the Mini Cooper JCW.
There's something to be said for VW's hot hatch segment commitment in the US and now that the AWD Golf R is here, buyers will be able to get an incredible driving machine without breaking the bank.