Experienced by Kimatni D. Rawlins
It’s not too often that we are invited to Asheville, NC, for an automaker’s test drive event. But thankfully, VW did their homework on the western region and decided that the eclectic town was thoughtful, endearing, and road-savvy enough to invite Automotive Rhythms / Fit Fathers down for an immersive experience. The opportunity included a profile and evaluation of the company’s family of SUVs and sedans such as the 2022 Jetta, Golf, Golf R, and ID.4 all-electric crossover. Driving up and around the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains in these various VW models was breathtaking.
VW State of Affairs
Even with 72% of VW sales consisting of SUVs, the German brand will undoubtedly continue focusing on its compact and sporty sedans, except for the Passat, which is receiving a Limited Edition for its farewell tour. In 2016 VW only had two SUVs in the fleet; today they are up to five and will proceed with adding more to go along with the Atlas, Atlas Cross Sport, ID.4, Taos (23K units sold YTD), and the Tiguan which is VW’s number one seller. The brand’s mantra is three-fold: Meet the Market, Lead the Charge, and Fuel the Fans. Taos owners are serious about fuel efficiency, and VW can provide that to them. Atlas continues to hold its own with a 40K sales increase over the last year and remarkable growth to position itself in 5th place within the midsize SUV segment. The Atlas provides seating for seven, while the sporty Atlas Cross Sport iteration offers a boatload of tech and seating for five. Available to both is VW’s IQ.Drive advanced driver assistance technology that includes Adaptive Cruise Control, Lane Assist, Front Assist, and more.
VW ID.4: Electrification Education
Although electric vehicles (EVs) only comprise 2% of the automotive market, we should all begin prepping for a future that reduces the populace’s carbon footprint because serious matters are at stake, from global warming to increased chronic sickness from pollutants. VW has strengthened the conversation with its innovative, deliberate, and resourceful ID.4, the best-selling Group BEV (Battery Electric Vehicle) worldwide in the first three-quarters of 2021 and #2 in the US after Tesla. It’s also won an array of awards from NHTSA and World Car of the Year, etc. In addition, VW has partnered with Electrify America who has made it simpler for EV owners to charge quicker with the release of their Level 2 home charger dubbed HomeStation. It can be purchased at www.ElectrifyHome.com for $649 with free shipping (installation not included). ID.4 has a range of 260 miles with RWD models and adds 90-horsepower on the AWD version.
The little guy is pretty spirited and darts away quickly anytime you lightly hit the accelerator. Its modular electric drive architecture consists of an electric motor and an 82 kWh Lithium-ion battery. With this setup, the ID.4 is motivated by 201-horsepower and 229 lb-ft of torque (RWD). Drivers can also set the vehicle in Eco, Comfort, Sport, or Custom drive modes. It’s presented with a sporty, flat-bottom steering wheel and bolstered seats. There is no denying that the identity of the ID.4 is that of an EV, especially at night when the front fascia’s illuminating light bar and logo shine to correspond with the cat-eye LED headlights. VW also instilled the compact SUV with a hitch-based towing capacity of up to 2,700 lbs (AWD).
2022 VW Golf R: Small Wonder
Slow down, enjoy life, and breathe deep unless you’re behind the wheel of the 2022 VW Golf R! The Golf R and GTI represent the original Hot Hatch with 40 years of experience in the US, beginning with the 1983 Golf GTI. In 2004 the first Golf R32 was released to elevate fandom. VW continues chasing the passion and excitement of the originals. So, of course, the Golf R experience was my favorite drive out of the family vehicle set. The latest, 5th generation Golf R features 315-horsepower from a 2.0-liter inline 4-cylinder turbocharged engine and up to 295 lb-ft of torque with the 7-speed DSG. A 6-speed manual is also available. Man, this small wonder was flying pointedly around the snake twisting mountainous roads. It’s quick, agile, and remained planted during my technical driving sessions. VW empowered the sporty hatchback with quad oval pipes, a new Vehicle Dynamics System, bigger 14” cross-drilled front brake rotors with blue 2-piston calipers, and torque-vectoring 4Motion all-wheel drive that allows 100% of rear power to be transferred to either rear wheel. A two-tone performance tailgate spoiler, Golf R specific 19” alloy rims, summer rubber, and R bumpers flowed perfectly with my Lapiz Blue Golf R.
Inside the well-configured cockpit are black leather and blue stitched seats and a flat-bottom steering wheel with long paddles shifters. A smaller, digital e-shifter replaces the traditional hand gear shifter; the steering wheel has been digitized as well as the tachometer that shows 7,000 and 8,000 rpms in red blocks. Harman/ Kardon audio is engaged through the 10.25” Digital Cockpit Pro and a new Race mode with Drift and Special settings are available for aggressive driving. Golf R is available in one fully-loaded trim starting at $43,645.
2022 VW Golf GTI 2.0T Autobahn: Hot Like Fire
Wow, the 2022 Golf GTI 2.0T Autobahn in Kings Red Metallic popped in Carolina country as I zipped around the same roads as the Golf R. With 34 highway mpg, you can drive for days in your GTI. To lessen the confusion, VW is going from two trims to just one for this model. It stands out with the signature honeycomb lower grille and trademark red grille line, an updated rear bumper with a diffuser, dual exhaust with improved sound, X-pattern LEDs, 19” optional alloy rims with Bridgestone tires, and a new Vehicle Dynamics System. Inside, the GTI has a similar setup as the Golf R with digital everything, including the haptic touch steering wheel and media center. Its sporty seats with larges side bolsters are clever with a red underlay that glimmers through the black perforation. The updated 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine produces 241-horsepower and 273 lb-ft of torque. Also, like the Golf R, the Golf GTI can be paired with the 6-speed manual or 7-speed DSG. Starting MSRP for the Autobahn edition is $38,795.
2022 VW Jetta GLI Autobahn: Sporty Efficiency
Germany’s Autobahn highway is a spectacular experience and allows more freedom from behind the wheel. The Kings Red Metallic sedan and its black roof and rims allowed me to end the day in peace, harmony, and style. I turned up the bass-heavy audio to vibe out to mellow reggae music through wireless Apple CarPlay while navigating turns using the stealthy flat-bottom steering wheel with thumb indentions. Paddle shifters, metal pedals, and a slightly bigger 2-liter TSI engine with 228-horsepower created pure pickup for the drive back into town. My test model had an MSRP of $31,795, but a base Jetta starts at just $20,195.