The 2022 Volkswagen Golf R looks ready to conquer the hottest hatchbacks that have been obsessing headlines during the absence of a new Volkswagen Golf launch in the country. Inspired by 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 the latest high-performance hatchback by Volkswagen still isn't as flamboyant as opponents like the Honda Civic Type R and Hyundai Veloster N, its chic appearance is designed to catch its rivals off guard while attracting fans who are actually looking for a fast and small car with more modest beauty. An advantage of unique and advanced equipment and modest yet sophisticated design details also help for making a distinction between the new model and the rest of the GTI line. However, there are still common grounds in the line and the 2022 Volkswagen Golf R shares a modern interior and myriad technology with the GTI model.
What you can expect from the new model is a modified version of the now-common EA888 turbocharged 2.0-litre engine that is also the power under the hood of the eighth-generation Golf GTI. The R's boosted inline-four makes 315 horsepower and 310 lb-ft of torque from just 2,100 rpm; that's 27 more horsepower and 30 more lb-ft of torque compared to what the last Golf R offers and 74 more horses more than what you are able to get from the 2021 Golf GTI. It also just outguns the 306-hp Honda Civic Type R.
There are other unique details about this engine, too, like the fact that it features variable valve timing on both the exhaust and intakes cams and a fully electronic coolant regulator that shortens engine warm-up times and reduces fuel consumption. It also can be paired with a manual transmission at launch, unlike the previous-generation Golf R. Yes, you are not mistaken. The manual isn't gone just yet and you will be able to enjoy it with this model too. A seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission will be available for those who prefer manual instead of automatic.
As with all R-badged VW car models—and an essential differentiator between the Golf R and the GTI—the new Golf R sends engine torque to all four wheels via all-wheel drive. With all that been said, we can assume that the Golf R is supposed to sprint from zero to 60 mph in as little as 4.7 seconds (with the quick-shifting DSG automatic) and a hit top speed of 155 mph (top speed is the same with either transmission).
You can assume that the Vehicle Dynamics Manager may be doing the majority of the magic behind the scenes, however, that is not to say the Golf R driver doesn’t have an active participation in how this hot hatchback behaves. The modes of the Driving Mode Selection system - Comfort, Sport, Race, and Individual - are the same as before, however, Volkswagen has thrown in additional Special and Drift modes. The company expects the majority of driving to be done in Sport mode, while the difference with the Race mode is shutting off the coasting feature, bumping up the engine sound, and making the transmission, damping, steering, and 4Motion systems all more aggressive.
What you can expect from the Special mode, meanwhile, is Volkswagen’s classic programme for the infamous Nordschleife. Contrasting to the Race mode, Special actually softens the dampers, helping ensure maximum rubber-to-road contact on undulating tracks, while the 4Motion settings and others are optimized for dealing with one corner following another in rapid succession. Volkswagen has also made improvements on how the automatic DSG transmission handles downshift, finessing how to brake pressure ahead of corners causes the gearbox to step down through the ratios.
The newly added Drift mode, however, flips all that on its head. Figuring you actively want to go sideways, rather than cling to the corners, it changes the 4Motion settings and the stability control so that the usual reluctance of AWD vehicles to drift is overruled. That includes switching to ESC Sport mode, a halfway measure of shutting the system off that holds the stability and traction control a little further at bay, without deactivating them completely. If you’re feeling really confident, however, you can even turn ESC off entirely.
The Golf R’s cabin design is almost similar to the GTI's new cabin design, which is the reason for a sportier aesthetic compared to the other Golf models. Both the new Golf R and GTI 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, however, the Golf R cannot be purchased with plaid seat inserts, but it does boast bolstered front seats wrapped in Nappa leather for more comfort and a cooler look. These exclusive buckets have blue and carbon-look accents in the side sections as well as a blue "R" logo in the backrest.
Other interior features of the new Golf R worth mentioning include ambient lighting with 30 colours, stainless-steel pedals, and more carbon-look trim on the dashboard. The new Golf R also has impressive cargo space and a comfortable back seat. As seen on the new GTI, the Golf R's infotainment system will run through a 10.0-inch touchscreen located in the centre 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. Popular content such as Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and a Wi-Fi hotspot is also expected.
The Golf R is certainly an example of a refined small car with the practicality of a hatchback and the spirit of a sports car. As with the previous generation, the Golf R is expected to be a Subaru WRX STI and Civic Type R competitor, but it offers more day-to-day refinement in a mature and sophisticated design. What the Golf R gives up in track-day fun is more than makes up for on your commute.