The powerful Golf Mk.8 twins are improved in every area.
North Americans have been patiently waiting for the arrival of the Volkswagen Golf Mk.8. The model initially launched in October 2019 in Germany and began arriving in showrooms in Europe later that year. Of course, US customers have had to wait even longer since only the high-performance GTI and Golf R variants of the eighth-generation hatchback will be sold here.
Finally, we can announce the local debut of the 2022 Golf GTI and Golf R at the 2021 Chicago Auto Show. Once again, we expect the two hot hatches to offer a balanced package with an engaging drive not coming at the expense of comfort or the latest technology.
"The previous Golf GTI and Golf R models were widely regarded as the best hot hatches you could buy, but the Mark 8 versions up the ante," said Hein Schafer, senior vice president, product marketing and strategy, Volkswagen of America.
Although both models retain the same wheelbases of their predecessors and have the same unmistakable Golf profile, they differ with their unique LED headlights. The GTI has X-shaped fog lights, a honeycomb lower grille, and a red grille line, while the Golf R has a blue grille line, bolder bumper designs, and quad exhaust tailpipes. Of course, these twins are all about their performance.
Both the GTI and the Golf R are powered by the EA888 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine. It produces 241 horsepower and 273 lb-ft of torque in the GTI, and 315 hp and 295 lb-ft in the more powerful Golf R when equipped with the seven-speed DSG dual-clutch gearbox. When equipped with the six-speed manual, the Golf R produces 280 lb-ft. The GTI is also offered with both of these transmission options.
VW did not share 0-60 mph times but both models can reach a limited top speed of 155 mph. However, the Golf R was claimed to hit 62 mph in 4.7 seconds when it was first revealed last year.
As before, the GTI directs power to its front wheels whereas the R features the 4Motion all-wheel-drive system. The GTI gets an electronically controlled torque-sensing limited-slip VAQ differential as standard, a setup that helps to reduce the understeer that is typical of FWD cars.
In the R, rear-axle torque vectoring is possible and up to 100 percent of the rear torque can be distributed to either one of the rear wheels depending on the driving situation. This is possible thanks to a rear differential with two multi-plate clutches.
Another big addition to the Golf 8 is the brand's new Vehicle Dynamics Manager that debuts on this model. The system links the stability control with the electronic differential lock (XDS) along with the available DCC adaptive damping system. These mechanical upgrades should make both the GTI and the R even more enjoyable to drive quickly than their predecessors.
Climb inside and the Golf 8 GTI and Golf R have taken a big leap forward. The customizable 10.25-inch Digital Cockpit Pro is standard.
The dashboard lines are clean and physical controls are notable by their scarcity. Still, VW hasn't forgotten some nostalgic details such as the GTI's golf ball manual shift knob and the standard plaid seats. Further up in the range, items like a 12-way power driver's seat, Vienna leather upholstery, and a head-up display are standard.
The high-spec Golf R boasts Nappa leather seats in front, a nine-speaker Harman Kardon sound system, ventilated front seats, and three-zone climate control.
Impressively, the Golf offers 19.9 cubic feet of cargo space, so it's the same practical family hatchback we've always known.
Undeniably improved in every aspect, what will the new Golfs cost you? Well, the GTI is offered in S, SE, and Autobahn trims and begins at $29,545 for the S with the manual, increasing to $30,345 for the GTI S with the DSG. That means you're paying $800 extra for the quick-shifting DSG.
The GTI SE costs $34,295 in manual guise and $35,095 with the DSG, while the GTI Autobahn goes for $37,995 and $38,795. Finally, the Golf R is offered in one well-equipped trim level and costs $43,645 for the manual and $44,445 for the DSG variant. These prices all exclude the destination fee of $995.
The 2022 VW Golf GTI and Golf R will reach US dealerships in the final quarter of 2021. It should once again set the standard for hot hatchbacks by offering an unbeatable mix of performance, comfort, and technology in this segment.