The 2022 Volkswagen Golf R Is More Than a Hot Hatch



Picture: Adam Ismail

For so long as I’m lucky sufficient to do that job, step one of each overview will at all times be the identical, regardless of the automobile: get inside and press each button. That is how individuals are likely to formulate their earliest impression of any car, in spite of everything. Bless its forced-induction coronary heart, the Golf R presents a limp handshake.

That’s largely as a result of the dashboard barely has any buttons to press. What you would possibly’ve heard is true: the Golf R’s cabin is a chilly and scientific place to be, each convoluted and minimalist to a fault. However when you’re in movement, it has a humorous means of creating you neglect about all of that.

Full disclosure: The type of us at Volkswagen dropped off a 2022 Golf R outfitted with the dual-clutch computerized to mess around and make plenty of noise for per week. I used to be so comfortable my tester got here in the perfect colour, Lapiz Blue.

What Is the 2022 Volkswagen Golf R?

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There’s just one technique to get a Golf in america anymore: quick. A minimum of Volkswagen lets you resolve how briskly. The Golf R is the extra audacious of the 2 selections, owing to its two extra pushed wheels and additional 74 horsepower in comparison with the lesser GTI. It begins at $45,185, together with vacation spot, and the one choice you actually have to contemplate is whether or not you wish to shell out $800 to interchange the usual six-speed handbook gearbox with a dual-clutch computerized.

See, each transmissions are mated to the identical 315-horsepower, turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder. Nevertheless, should you go for the paddle shifters, torque rises from 280 lb-ft to 295. I examined the dual-clutch, and I’ll discuss a little bit extra about that later.

Picture: Adam Ismail

So the Golf R is a little bit dear and really highly effective, however you wouldn’t actually know both of these issues from trying on the exterior. This has at all times been the sleeper scorching hatch; the one which by no means appeared terribly fussed with whether or not anybody knew of its sporting pretense, other than the person driving it. In the event you miss the small print — the large, slotted brake rotors and the refined “R” badge on the liftgate — the highest Golf seems to be 95 % like another. Wise, unassuming, undesigned.

And that’s okay! I nonetheless can’t a lot as look on the rear of an FK8 Civic Kind R with out rolling my eyes, so I’ll applaud the Golf R’s restraint. Volkswagen ignored the obnoxious design traits infecting each performance-minded car and penned a five-door hatch that fairly actually seems to be prefer it doesn’t wish to be perceived.

How Does the 2022 Golf R Drive?

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It’s a disgrace how the inside has dominated the dialog across the Golf R. Certain, I get it — all of its fanatic contemporaries are so good now, scorching hatch rivalries are gained and misplaced within the particulars. However you don’t purchase a automobile like this for its luxurious and know-how; you purchase it for its capacity to shock you. How can a car this smart even be so sharp? The Golf R will go away you awash in that blissful state of déjà vu again and again.

It’ll occur the primary time you choose Sport mode and stand on the accelerator. The Golf R feels quicker than 315 hp and 300-ish lb-ft ought to, and Volkswagen’s Direct Shift Gearbox deserves all of the reward. Whether or not you’re flicking the paddles or leaving these selections to the pc, this rapid-shifting seven-speed actually feels prefer it’s extracting the utmost from that turbo four-cylinder always.

Picture: Adam Ismail

It’s spectacular that the powertrain feels so responsive, contemplating the turbocharger (lag is sort of imperceptible) and the heft of all-wheel drive. Volkswagen’s twin-clutch rear axle can funnel as much as 50 % of the facility to both rear wheel — take pleasure in validating that declare on a rain-soaked car parking zone or ice lake — and the usual Dynamic Chassis Management system employs adaptive dampers to completely swimsuit this two-box terror for each event.

Drive modes rework the automobile’s character. As you choose extra aggressive profiles, the suspension corporations up, the steering provides heft, the DSG’s computer systems maintain you in decrease gears for longer and the exhaust notice deepens with pleasant off-throttle pops. Higher but, with Particular person Mode you possibly can customized tweak every of these parameters individually to search out your optimum mixture of efficiency and luxury.

The result’s flat cornering, telepathic steering and a experience that conforms to you. Different efficiency compacts, just like the Toyota GR Corolla I just lately drove, are definitely extra uncooked and emotive. For higher or worse, the Golf R feels comparatively premium and refined. You find yourself feeling a little bit insulated from the motion, however nonetheless dazzled by the agility of a car that may so simply defy its corporeal mass.

How Is the 2022 Golf R’s Inside?

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Earlier than we go any additional, I wish to be clear: Not one of the annoyances I’m about to relay are dealbreakers. They don’t undermine the Golf R’s spirit, or undo any of the fantastic belongings you expertise whereas driving. They’re simply little frustrations — admittedly, plenty of little frustrations. I’ve made them into a listing as a result of, frankly, it’s simpler to cowl them that means:

  • Each button on the steering wheel spokes is capacitive — contact delicate, not a bodily button. In the event you prefer to drive along with your palms on the spokes, as I do on lengthy freeway drives, the amount, monitor skip, instrument cluster show, and just about every part else on the steering wheel will develop a thoughts of its personal. Know this.

Picture: Adam Ismail

  • I’ve already mentioned this at size, however the dual-zone local weather and quantity controls beneath the first show — that are, once more, capacitive — aren’t backlit. Which means they go invisible once you’re driving at evening.
  • The positioning of among the software program buttons in Volkswagen’s infotainment system UI is atrocious. The shortcut for the local weather web page on the bottom-left nook is dangerously near the capacitive pad for temperature adjustments. It impacts CarPlay too, due to the place Apple likes to place its Residence button. Half the time I needed to return to the first CarPlay display, I ended up elevating the A/C temperature by a level.

These two heated seat icons really convey up the local weather menu when tapped. Sadly, they’re additionally a fat-fingered jab away from the stereo energy button and driver’s-side temperature controls beneath. There’s additionally a local weather button close to the panic button, however that can be capacitive and extra of an ungainly attain.
Picture: Adam Ismail

These seats are tremendous comfy, although the carbon-fiber-weave trim alongside the sides is a bit a lot.
Picture: Adam Ismail

  • Talking of local weather stuff, the ventilated seats are fairly weak.
  • The touchscreen is genuinely terrible at distinguishing faucets from swipes. Generally it’s buttery easy, different occasions it’s inexplicably laggy. You by no means actually know the way it’s going to behave.
  • On one event the backup digicam began intermittently flickering with a black display whereas I used to be reversing. Additionally, the aspect mirrors by no means as soon as auto-lowered in reverse throughout my week with the automobile, although I’d turned on that operate within the car settings.

Replace: Commenter Saigon_Design identified a little bit quirk of VW’s system: the mirrors will solely decrease if the adjustment toggle is turned to the left or proper aspect. Some discussion board posts I’ve seen corroborate this. Good to know!

  • Additionally, on one event, as I used to be pulling away from an intersection after the site visitors sign turned inexperienced, a large, pink, indecipherable icon briefly overtook the middle of the instrument cluster together with an ominous chime. I later found within the proprietor’s handbook that this was an “Advance Warning” notification tied to Volkswagen’s Entrance Help emergency braking system. Principally, the automobile detected a doable collision and “ready itself” (no matter meaning) for emergency braking, although there was loads of room between me and site visitors forward, and no such emergency existed.
  • The affirmation tone, should you select to make use of it, is so loud! Admittedly there may be a technique to flip it down — I searched and searched and located nothing.

That is the supposedly cheap-looking door that’s been the topic of a lot ire from a sure subset of the fanatic neighborhood.
Picture: Adam Ismail

Going into my time with the Golf R, I anticipated the inside match and end to be its undoing. However the leather-based bucket seats, with their blue accents and piping and first rate bolstering, are good to have a look at and wonderful for lengthy journeys. The plastics, whereas hardly supple or nice to the contact, are utterly cheap.

The gear selector for the DSG is fairly boring trying, and I’m undecided what VW expects passengers to retailer in that rectangular divot.
Picture: Adam Ismail

The rear door playing cards on the Golf R have gotten extra adverse consideration from fanatics and potential prospects than in all probability another rear door card in automotive historical past. I don’t get it. They appear 95-percent an identical to the entrance. The again of the Golf R is a pleasant place to be — there’s ample headroom and also you even get your individual digital local weather controls!

Certain, the sprint is fairly lifeless from a design standpoint, and there’s a wealth of empty plastic surrounding the gear selector for no discernible cause. Certainly, that is no Mazda3 Turbo. However then, the Mazda3 Turbo doesn’t have an oz of the Golf R’s capacity to excite. Whenever you construct a efficiency compact, you need to make compromises — sure, even at $46,000 — and that is how Volkswagen made them.

How the 2022 VW Golf R Compares to the Competitors

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The Golf R misplaced maybe its closest competitor, the Subaru WRX STI, just lately. Within the interim, one thing fascinating occurred: Toyota swooped into what was Subaru’s lane and delivered the GR Corolla.

The favored consensus across the Golf R, so far as I can inform, is that it prices an excessive amount of. And whereas I’ll definitely agree it’s removed from low cost, in apply this can be a very completely different beast from the GR Corolla. Whenever you take that into consideration, the value Volkswagen is asking feels justified.

Toyota’s scorching hatch is an all-around less complicated machine — much less refined in its dynamics, much less luxurious in its experience and facilities. Thoughts you, that’s not a nasty factor, and it helps the Corolla slide in some $8,000 lower than the most affordable Golf R with a handbook.

2023 Toyota GR Corolla Core Version
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However the GR Corolla is supposed for somebody after the prototypical scorching hatch: A great deal of grip and ample energy in a fairly priced, unsophisticated package deal, with minimal layers of abstraction between you and the automobile’s mechanicals. The Golf R loses a bit in visceral, tactile engagement, however beneficial properties a complete universe in versatility. It grants you acceleration that will embarrass most supercars from 15 years in the past, but additionally consolation, effectivity and subtlety. Of all of the choices on this class, it’s the perfect suited to be somebody’s solely automobile.

After all, should you don’t want all the creature comforts, the trick axles and the considerably problematic tech, your choices open up. The new Subaru WRX is arguably a category beneath the Golf R, down on energy and missing a limited-slip differential. It doesn’t assist that the nicest WRX you should purchase — the $42,000 GT trim — provides you adaptive dampers however forces you to tolerate a CVT computerized transmission. I haven’t occurred behind the wheel of Subaru’s newest sports activities sedan, however my colleague Collin didn’t appear to like his time with it.

The inside of the upcoming 2023 Honda Civic Kind R. Doesn’t this seem like a stunning place to be?
Picture: Honda

Lastly, I’d be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge the winged determine of the 2023 Honda Civic Kind R looming within the distance. However there’s nonetheless a lot we don’t find out about that automobile. Media hasn’t pushed it but, and it’s unclear the place exactly it’ll land on this struggle, when it comes to value. For what it’s price, I’m keen to guess it’ll have the best inside of the bunch — judging from the images we’ve seen.

2022 VW Golf R: The Verdict

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The Golf R would possibly simply be probably the most polarizing automobile I’ve ever pushed. After I ask others who’ve pushed it, they both deride it for its inside frustrations, or knock it for feeling a contact divorced from the drama it’s so adept at creating. Or each! Followers, in the meantime, champion the sophistication of the 4Motion all-wheel drive system and its capacity to squeeze each drop of potential out of the EA888 Evo4 motor.

Right here’s the factor: All of these straw-people have factors. Me? I’d in all probability take the GR Corolla, as a result of it’s all I would like and considerably cheapernot as a result of I couldn’t dwell with the Golf R’s dumb local weather controls. I might simply adapt, due to what the Golf R provides you in alternate: All the things. Likelihood is, any person out there’s in search of precisely that.

2022 Volkswagen Golf R 2.0T DSG Specs

Engine kind

Intercooled Turbo Premium Unleaded I-4


Auto-Shift Guide w/OD

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