The 2022 Volkswagen Golf R looks ready to overthrow the hottest hatchbacks that have been hogging headlines during its absence from our shores. Spawned from the improvements made to the upcoming Mk8 Golf GTI, the R-rated model has a more powerful 315-hp turbo-four and an all-wheel-drive system with a drift mode. While VW’s latest and greatest high-performance hatch still isn’t as showy as rivals like the Honda Civic Type R and Hyundai Veloster N, its more sophisticated appearance should only help catch its opponents off guard while attracting buyers who want a fast small car with low-key looks. A slew of exclusive equipment and subtle design details also work to separate it from the GTI, with which it shares a modern interior and myriad technology. We won’t know how the 2022 Golf R is to drive until we get behind the wheel, but based on what we know so far, we’re chomping at the bit.
What’s New for 2022?
After being on hiatus since the 2019 model year, the Golf R returns for 2022. Its resurrection follows the release of the eighth-generation Golf GTI. With VW planning to stop selling the regular Golf hatchback and station wagons here, that leaves the GTI and the R as the only versions America will get. Thankfully, both are favorites of ours.
Pricing and Which One to Buy
Volkswagen says it will offer a single Golf R model that’s loaded with all the best equipment. This suggests its starting price will be a couple thousand dollars higher than before when it hits U.S. dealership in late 2021.
Engine, Transmission, and Performance
Under the Golf R’s hood is a turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-four-cylinder that makes 315 horsepower and 310 lb-ft of torque—up from 288 hp and 280 lb-ft in the last generation R. The engine pairs with either a six-speed manual or a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. The standard 4Motion all-wheel-drive system features a rear differential that can actively distribute torque between the left and right rear wheels for improved handling. The Golf R’s selectable drive modes (Comfort, Sport, Race, Special, Drift, and Individual) can be activated by pressing an “R” button on the steering wheel, and they provide distinct powertrain and drivetrain characteristics. Every model comes with a sport exhaust system, variable-ratio steering, and larger front disc brakes than before. The Golf R also rides on a set of 19-inch wheels shod with summer performance tires.
Fuel Economy and Real-World MPG
Neither the EPAnor VW have released the city and highway ratings for the 2022 Golf R. Once those figures are made available, and we have a chance to run it on our 75-mph highway fuel-economy route (part of our extensive testing regimen) we can evaluate the high-performance hatchback’s real-world mpg.
Interior, Comfort, and Cargo
The Golf R mimics the GTI’s new cabin design, which provides a sportier aesthetic than the last-generation Golf. Both have a thick-rimmed steering wheel with touch-sensitive controls that operate a 10.2-inch digital gauge cluster with configurable layouts. Unlike the GTI, the Golf R isn’t available with plaid seat inserts, but it does boast bolstered front seats wrapped in nappa leather. These exclusive buckets have blue and carbon-look accents in the side sections as well as a blue “R” logo in the backrest. The other interior features include ambient lighting with 30 colors, stainless-steel pedals, and more carbon-look trim on the dashboard. Since the last Golf R had useful cargo space and a comfortable back seat, and the next generation has an extra 0.6 inch between its axles and is 1 inch longer overall, we expect its practicality to meet or exceed its predecessor’s.
Infotainment and Connectivity
As seen on the new GTI, the Golf R’s infotainment system will run through a 10.0-inch touchscreen situated in the center of the dashboard. Its secondary controls include touch-sensitive sliders versus physical knobs and buttons. Along with the obligatory charging ports, the system should be available with a Harman/Kardon premium stereo. We also expect popular content such as Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and a Wi-Fi hotspot.
Safety and Driver-Assistance Features
The 2022 Golf R hasn’t been crash tested by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) or the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). We expect the next-gen Golf R to offer as much or more driver-assistance technology as its predecessor, which suggests blind-spot monitoring and lane-keeping assist will be on the roster. Key safety features will likely include:
- Standard forward-collision warning and automated emergency braking
- Standard blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert
- Standard lane-departure warning and lane-keeping assist
Warranty and Maintenance Coverage
Although VW’s powertrain warranty isn’t tops among classmates, both its limited warranty and complimentary scheduled maintenance are among the best.
- Limited warranty covers four years or 50,000 miles
- Powertrain warranty covers four years or 50,000 miles
- Complimentary maintenance is covered for two years or 20,000 miles