“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. “Now built in Wolfsburg, the cars have more performance, better handling, more standard equipment and improved tech features, yet minimal price increases.”
The 2022 Golf GTI and Golf R are an evolution of the Golf-family design formula. They are slightly longer and sportier, but still carry the styling hallmarks of their predecessors, such as the distinctive C-pillar. The Mark 8 cars have a fresh face courtesy of a more sharply raked hood, new signature LED headlights and an available light bar in the grille either side of the updated VW logo. The GTI bears distinctive new X-shaped foglights and new wheel designs along with the classic honeycomb lower grille, red grille line, red brake calipers and dual exhaust tips. Inside, GTI models still incorporate the golf ball design into the manual shift knob and boast standard plaid seats, though the eighth-generation car wears a new “Scalepaper” tartan pattern.
Golf R models feature a blue grille line and brake calipers, a new wheel design, more aggressive front and rear bumpers and diffusers than on GTI, a large two-piece rear spoiler, body-colored side sill extensions, and a quad-tipped exhaust system. The GTI is available in Oryx White Pearl, Moonstone Gray, Kings Red Metallic, Atlantic Blue Metallic, Reflex Silver Metallic, and Deep Black Pearl, as well as Pomelo Yellow Metallic, a special Autobahn-only launch color. Golf R is available in signature Lapiz Blue Metallic, as well as Pure White and Deep Black Pearl.
Wheelbases on both cars remain unchanged from the previous generation, at 103.6 inches for Golf GTI and 103.5 for Golf R. The Golf GTI is 168.8 inches long, and 57.6 inches high, with Golf R at 168.9 and 57.7 inches respectively, and both cars are 70.4 inches wide. Passengers have 91.9 cubic feet of interior space, with 41.2 inches of legroom in the front and 35.0 inches in the rear. With the rear seats up, there is 19.9 cubic feet of cargo space, which increases to 34.5 with the rear seats folded.
The latest iteration of the EA888 2.0-liter turbocharged direct-injection TSI® engine is found in both U.S.-bound 2022 Golf models, making them the most powerful versions of the brand’s performance vehicles to date. In either model, the engine can be paired with a standard six-speed manual transmission or an optional seven-speed DSG® dual-clutch automatic. The GTI produces 241 horsepower—up 13 from the Mk7—and 273 lb-ft of torque (achieved with premium fuel). The Golf R now makes 315 horsepower—27 more than the previous generation—and 295 lb-ft of torque with the DSG transmission, or 280 lb-ft with the manual. Both models have an electronically limited top track speed of 155 mph.
On the Mk8 models, new vehicle dynamics settings closely integrate the electronic stability control (ESC) with the electronic differential lock (XDS®) and the optional DCC® adaptive damping system. By adapting the individual wheel damping 200 times a second, it can deliver particularly agile and accurate handling.
The new GTI comes standard with the electronically controlled torque-sensing limited-slip VAQ differential. Compared with mechanically operated differentials, the system in the GTI offers a variable degree of intervention depending on the actual driving situation and ESC, EDS and XDS+ functions. This makes it possible to avoid steering corruption, as is the case with purely mechanical differentials. The VAQ differential optimizes grip and handling in fast corners, thus enhancing the performance and helping to decrease understeer, a traditional weakness of front-drive cars.
On the Golf R, Volkswagen engineers have designed a new 4Motion® all-wheel-drive system with rear-axle torque vectoring. This serves as the foundation for the updated handling abilities of the Golf R, delivering a new level of performance for its category. The previous generation’s 4Motion system could send up to 50 percent of the engine’s total power to the rear axle via a multi-plate clutch. The new torque vectoring system in the 2022 Golf R uses a rear differential with two multi-plate clutches that can distribute up to 100 percent of the rear torque to an individual rear wheel. This system is designed to apportion power between the wheels based on speed, power application, yaw and other factors. In a typical corner, the system can direct more power to the wheel on the outside of the curve in a matter of milliseconds, reducing the cornering radius.
Inside, the 2022 Golf GTI and Golf R feature entirely new electronic architecture, enabling a digitally networked world of displays and controls. The 10.25-inch Digital Cockpit Pro is standard, allowing drivers to create a customized display of pertinent information, including car status, driving data, phone information, album art, driver assistance features and more. Models equipped with the Discover Pro infotainment system with navigation are able to display a full screen map in the digital cluster and simultaneously on the 10-inch center display.
Building from the S trim, the GTI SE starts at $34,295 for the manual and $35,095 for the DSG. Standard features include: sunroof; LED headlights with Adaptive Front-lighting System (AFS); LED front fog lights with Active Cornering light; illuminated grille; KESSY keyless access; 10-inch MIB3 Discover Pro infotainment with navigation and simultaneous display in Digital Cockpit Pro; voice control; harman/kardon 480-watt premium audio system with nine speakers; wireless App-Connect for compatible devices; Car-Net with Wi-Fi capability (requires subscription); SiriusXM® with 360L (three-month All Access trial); and Dynamic Road Sign Display.
The SE can be optioned with two available trim packages. Leather seating surfaces with front-seat ventilation, leatherette door trim, driver seat power, and memory settings for driver seat are $1,225 MSRP and 18-inch gloss black wheels are $395.
The top-of-the-line GTI Autobahn models are priced at $37,995 for manual and $38,795 for DSG. Building from the SE trim, standard features include: 19-inch wheels; summer performance tires; DCC adaptive damping; Vienna leather seating surfaces; ventilated front seats; heated rear seats; 12-way power driver seat with memory; leatherette door trim; three-zone Climatronic Touch with rear seat controls; head-up display; Light Assist (High Beam Control for headlights); and Park Assist automatic parking assistant.
The Golf R is available in one fully-loaded trim for 2022, priced at $43,645 MSRP for the manual transmission and $44,445 for the DSG. It features standard DCC adaptive damping; R-Performance 4Motion all-wheel drive with torque vectoring; 19-inch aluminum-alloy wheels with summer performance tires; 14-inch cross-drilled front brake rotors with blue- painted dual-piston calipers and R logo; LED headlights with AFS; cornering and poor weather light; illuminated grille; matte aluminum side mirrors with puddle lamp “R” logo projection and memory; sunroof; performance-oriented spoiler; KESSY keyless access with push-button start; start/stop system (DSG only); heated, perforated leather-wrapped sport steering wheel with touch controls and shortcut to special driving modes; R-specific paddle shifters (DSG only); stainless-steel pedal caps; Nappa leather sport seats with integrated headrests for front seats; leatherette door trim; 12-way power driver seat with memory; front and rear heated seats; ventilated front seats; three-zone Climatronic® Touch automatic climate control with rear controls; automatic headlights; rain-sensing wipers; heated washer nozzles; auto-dimming rearview mirror; Volkswagen Digital Cockpit Pro with 10.25-inch display; 10-inch MIB3 Discover Pro infotainment with navigation and simultaneous display in Digital Cockpit; voice control; harman/kardon 480-watt premium audio system with nine speakers; wireless charging and wireless App-Connect for compatible devices; four USB-C ports (two front, two charge-only rear); Car-Net with Wi-Fi capability (requires subscription); SiriusXM® with 360L (three-month All Access trial); head- up display; 30-color ambient lighting; IQ.DRIVE suite (Emergency Assist DSG only); Dynamic Road Sign Display; Light Assist (High Beam Control for headlights); and Park Assist automatic parking assistant with front and rear Park Distance Control.