Volkswagen decided to slim down the lineup for the eighth-generation Golf in the US, but the good news is that we still get the two most exciting versions – the GTI and Golf R. The 2022 Golf R continues to sit at the top of the lineup and is now powered by a more powerful 315 hp turbocharged four with more aggressive styling and improved driving dynamics.
The Golf R is powered by a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder that generates 315 horsepower and 310 pound-feet of torque, which is up from 288 hp and 280 lb-ft. That means the Golf R now has more power than the Honda Civic Type R and Hyundai Veloster N. We’ll have to wait and see if Honda squeezes out more power from the next-generation Civic Type R.
The four-cylinder can be mated to either a six-speed manual or a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. The Golf R also comes standard with the 4Motion all-wheel drive system with a rear differential that can distribute the torque between the left and rear wheels. Up to 50 percent of the torque can be sent to the rear axle, with up to 100 percent of that torque sent to either rear wheel.
The Golf R features several driving modes: Comfort, Sport, Race, Drift, Special, and Custom. Other performance upgrades include larger front disc brakes, variable-ratio steering, adaptive dampers and a sporty exhaust system.
The extra power under the hood is immediately noticeable with its low end torque and the engine loves to rev when you’re zooming up those canyon roads. The dual-clutch automatic also shifts really quick and smooth. As expected, this hot hatch has everything you need to have some fun.
The extra grip from the all-wheel drive system and excellent brakes make the Golf R feel right at home on a twisty road. It literally zooms out of the corners with ease. Push that pedal to the floor and the Golf R is up for whatever you can throw at it.
The good news is that even with all that fun, you don’t have to worry about having to stop for gas too often. The Golf R is rated at 23 mpg city, 30 mpg highway and 26 mpg combined with the automatic and 20/28/23 mpg with the manual.
Inside there’s plenty of room for four passengers and there’s 13.5 cubic feet of cargo space. The Golf R’s interior also feels more luxurious than the Civic Type R. The dashboard looks modern with its 10.25-inch digital gauge cluster and 10.0-inch touchscreen. Unfortunately the new infotainment system and controls are our biggest gripe with the Golf R. The system powers up fast, but it can also get hung up if your fingers move too fast. The Golf R features two USB-C ports for your devices, but there’s also a Qi wireless pad.
You’ll notice that there also aren’t any knobs or buttons to operate the climate control, audio volume or other settings. Instead the Golf R features capacitive touch controls, which can be frustrating to use. The controls on the steering wheel take some getting used to and simple things like adjusting the climate control are annoying to operate since you have to go through several menus. It’s also weird that the volume and temperature sliders below the display are not illuminated at night.
The 2022 VW Golf R is only available in one trim level and it comes standard with a head-up display, sunroof, 19-inch alloy wheels with summer tires, the 10-inch touchscreen and digital gauge cluster. The pricing for the Golf R starts at $45,085, including destination.
At the end of the day you’ll have a hard time finding something this fun, with this much practicality.