• Car Review

Driven: 2022 Volkswagen GTI Review

By Shawn Furman | January 20, 2022

Vehicle Type: The 2022 Volkswagen GTI is a hatchback-only compact car, sometimes referred to as a “hot hatch,” that can seat up to 5 passengers.

Price Range: The base model Volkswagen GTI S starts at $30,540, while the top Autobahn trim starts at $38,990 (including destination).

We tested an Autobahn model with the optional DSG transmission and Kings Red Metallic paint, which stickered for $40,185.

Powertrain: There are two powertrain options available for GTI buyers.

Both options only drive the front wheels and both produce the same power figures: 241 horsepower and 273 lb-ft of torque from a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine.

But unlike many other vehicles, a six-speed manual transmission comes standard on all three GTI trim levels, and a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission is optional for an additional $800.


What’s New for 2022?

Now in its eighth generation, the 2022 Volkswagen GTI has been completely redesigned. Since the regular VW Golf is being discontinued for the U.S, only the GTI and Golf R remain as VW's performance representatives.

This revised GTI now boasts 241 horsepower, 13 more than the outgoing generation. Even though that may not sound like much, it's definitely brawnier than any 2021 model.

More refined yet simplistic interior styling, sharper exterior styling, upgrades to the infotainment system, a new digital gauge cluster, suspension upgrades, and a new limited-slip differential setup round out the new features for the 2022 model year.

Thankfully for many enthusiasts, a six-speed manual gearbox remains standard on all trim levels with a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. Both are excellent choices. For those who want safety with their performance, the new GTI also offers a more comprehensive list of standard safety features than the outgoing generation.

What’s Good?

  • Still provides a near-perfect balance of comfort, practicality, and performance.
  • Both the dual-clutch and manual transmission options are exceptional.
  • Plentiful standard tech and safety features on each trim level.

What’s Bad?

  • More expensive than most other cars in the segment.
  • Maddening touch-sensitive controls for the climate control rarely work; infotainment menus are confusing.
  • Steering and handling a bit muted for a performance hatchback.

Would we buy one? Definitely! Though it's pricey compared to other performance competitors, the Volkswagen GTI is a well-rounded, near-luxury, performance-oriented hatchback. Just make sure you can live with those climate controls.

More Photos:

See more 2022 Volkswagen GTI Photos.



The Volkswagen GTI has been completely redesigned for the 2022 model year, making it the first model year of its eighth generation of production. Being a compact car, it competes with the likes of the Mazda 3 hatchback, Toyota Corolla hatchback, and Subaru Impreza hatchback the best. Other compact cars like the Kia Forte, Honda Civic, Toyota Corolla sedan, and Nissan Sentra offer their best against the GTI but fall short in the practicality and performance departments.

Other hot hatchbacks like the Hyundai Veloster N, Honda Civic Type R, and its bigger brother, the Golf R, offer more impressive performance specs than the GTI, and the newly redesigned Subaru Impreza WRX does the same in a sedan body style. Despite this, many fans still believe the GTI treads a near-perfect middle ground between these performance monsters and the more dialed back daily drivers the compact car class has to offer.

Despite its high price tag, the redesigned 2022 Volkswagen GTI provides a modern feel for one of the most recognizable and long-lived names in the automotive industry. One of our biggest complaints is its lack of tangible buttons to control everything inside, but their responsiveness makes up a little lost ground for the lack of feel.

This is one of few complaints, though, and most agree that it still feels like a GTI, a great thing for a car with such great history and pedigree.

Overall Score: 4/5 stars

Safety Features: 4.5/5 stars


At the time of this writing, neither the NHTSA nor the IIHS has rated the 2022 Volkswagen GTI, but the 2021 Volkswagen Golf GTI received good overall safety scores, and we expect that to carry over to the 2022 model, especially with its boosted standard safety features list.

Standard safety features on each trim level of the new GTI include automatic emergency braking, blind-spot monitoring, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, lane-keeping assist, rear cross-traffic alert, and travel assist, a semi-autonomous driving system. Because of this extensive list, only a few safety options remain, including automatic high-beam headlights, a head-up display, and a parking assist system.

Value: 4/5 stars


Value is hard to pin down for the ’22 VW GTI. On one hand, it offers one of the best values in the compact car segment because of its well-roundedness. Even though its starting price is thousands more than its more docile competitors, those who want a sporty car with plenty of performance, fantastic driving dynamics, great capability, and decent fuel economy will likely still be drawn to it.

On the other hand, those who really need to save money can buy a Toyota Corolla hatchback or a Mazda 3 hatchback and get a great driving experience with a little less punch and still be mostly happy. This group will also save a little at the pump, and probably, on insurance costs as well. Despite its greatness, its MSRP will drive away a certain population that would buy a new GTI if it started at $5,000 less.

Even though its starting price can hinder buyers, we had a hard time overlooking the new GTI with its additional standard features, its usability, and its performance compared to the last iteration of the car.

Additionally, rivals like the Subaru Impreza WRX, Honda Civic Type R, and even the less powerful Honda Civic Si tend to hold their value just a little better than past Volkswagen Golf GTI models, relative to their starting price. That being said, the Golf GTI remains a very solid value without being the best.

Tech Features: 2.5/5 stars


The new 2022 GTI benefits from some upgraded standard tech features. Buyers get an 8.25-inch infotainment touchscreen display in base model GTIs, but a larger 10-inch touchscreen gets buyers an upgraded infotainment system with high-quality graphics and quick responses.

Unfortunately, the lack of physical buttons was exceptionally frustrating, and a big reason we didn't give the GTI a higher score here.

Many climate control features (fan speed and temperature, plus volume) are accessed via a touch-sensitive panel just below the infotainment screen. Not only did the panel itself rarely work the way we needed it to, but its position beneath the screen itself meant it was far too easy to accidentally touch the panel when you were using the touchscreen.

Other standard tech features include a 10.25-inch digital gauge cluster, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, a seven-speaker audio system, wireless device charging, Bluetooth, and four USB ports. Automatic climate control, a rearview camera, rain-sensing windshield wipers, and parking sensors round out the list of standard tech features.

Optional features and those that can be found on higher trim levels include a larger 10-inch touchscreen, a Harmon Kardon nine-speaker stereo system, a WiFi hotspot, navigation, a sunroof, adaptive headlights, and tri-zone automatic climate control.

Despite being well-equipped, the lack of physical controls really hurt the premium experience that the GTI has brought in the past.

Practicality: 4/5 stars


Practicality has always been one of the GTI’s strong suits, partly because it is a hatchback, and partly because it has generally retained its boxy shape, despite manufacturers like Mazda, Toyota, and Honda trying to make their hatchback designs sleeker. The new GTI, thus, retains its cargo and passenger-friendliness.

The rear-seat legroom is a smidge tight, which is somewhat expected in a compact car. But what it lacks in rear-seat legroom, it makes up for in the front seats. They are noted to be both sporty and comfortable and access to both front and rear seats is unobstructed by any pillars or an excessively sloped roofline.

Cargo space is good and accessible, again, because of the GTI’s boxy design and its easy loading height. With the rear seats down, cargo capacity expands to 34.5 cubic feet, close to that of a Toyota RAV4. With the back seats upright, its capacity falls to just under 20 cubic feet. For a compact car, this is still good, and the wide hatch opening only helps with larger items.

Compared to others in the class, it clearly defeats the compact sedans, but it is only really bested by the Honda Civic Type R for cargo space. The Hyundai Veloster N and Mazda 3 hatchback are all close to the GTI while the Toyota Corolla hatchback falls a little short of what the GTI can accomplish in terms of hauling.

Styling & Design: 4/5 stars


The GTI’s exterior styling remains consistent and level-headed compared to some other automakers’ designs. That is not to say it looks bad. It looks handsome and serious without the addition of too many edgy lines and excessively swoopy body cuts – a thoroughly modern look without too much flare.

We found it to be a more mature take on a performance car of its segment, something that should appeal to older buyers in a way that cars like the previous-generation Honda Civic Si/Type R did not.

The interior was impressive in its ability to shut out road and wind noise, and for its impression of a luxury vehicle. We came to appreciate this over our week of testing and found that it helps to broaden the GTI's appeal to younger and older buyers alike.

Driving Experience: 4/5 stars


Fortunately for Volkswagen, they set out to make the new GTI just as fun to drive as previous generations, and they have accomplished their goal. Mostly.

Highlights include the bump in power over the previous generation (low-end torque too), which makes it feel quicker while still leaving a gap between it and the Golf R.

It handles even better than the previous generation Golf GTI; the standard electronic limited-slip differential helps cornering and fights understeer typical in a front-wheel-drive car.

Our only gripe was that in hard driving, the car didn't feel as light and lively as one might expect given the car's size and performance segment; it's close but no cigar.

Both acceleration and braking are excellent with no dead spots or excessive turbo lag at either end of the spectrum. We didn't get to test the manual gearbox here but the dual-clutch option felt like one of the better ones in the industry.

Ride quality is also good as the GTI balances wonderfully between sporty and comfortable. The front seats are supportive and roomy compared to the rear seats, which are comfortable, but a little lacking in legroom.

The optional adaptive suspension damping on our test models helps both aspects of the car and has been improved for this generation, keeping body roll to a minimum.

Fuel Efficiency: 3.5/5 stars


With the GTI’s simple powertrain options come a minimal amount of EPA fuel economy estimates through which to sort. It gets 24 miles per gallon in the city and 34 miles per gallon on the highway for a combined 28 miles per gallon, about average for the compact car segment. The dual-clutch automatic does return 25 MPG in the city, one MPG better than the 6-speed manual, but the combined average does not change.

Both the Toyota Corolla hatchback and Mazda 3 – when equipped with front-wheel drive and a turbocharged engine – return a combined 31 MPG, while the more powerful all-wheel-drive Volkswagen Golf R with its automatic transmission gets a combined 26 MPG. The Hyundai Veloster N returns a combined 22 MPG, and with both the 2022 Subaru Impreza WRX and 2022 Honda Civic Type R receiving redesigns, their fuel economy numbers are not yet official.

What’s it Going to Cost Me?


With only three trim levels and minimal powertrain options, the 2022 VW GTI keeps everything as simple as possible for buyers. A turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine comes standard on all trims and produces 241 horsepower and 273 lb-ft of torque. Front-wheel drive and the choice of a six-speed manual or a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission – an $800 option – are the only drivetrain options, regardless of trim level.

All trims also feature Volkswagen’s IQ.DRIVE suite of safety features. It includes automatic emergency braking, blind-spot monitoring, adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning, lane departure warning, lane-keeping assist, rear cross-traffic alert, travel assist, rain-sensing windshield wipers, and LED headlights.

The base model Volkswagen GTI S carries a starting MSRP of $29,545 and does not include a destination fee of $995. It comes standard with an 8.25-inch touchscreen display that runs older software for the infotainment system, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, a seven-speaker audio system, four USB ports, Bluetooth, wireless device charging, selectable drive modes, and an Audi-esque 10.25-inch digital gauge cluster.

Other standard equipment includes ambient lighting, heated front seats, a heated and leather-wrapped steering wheel, automatic climate control, cloth plaid upholstery, front sport seats, front and rear parking sensors, and an electronic limited-slip differential.

Moving up to the Volkswagen GTI SE comes with a base price of $34,295 before adding the $995 destination fee. Standard features on this trim include a sunroof, adaptive headlights, a WiFi hotspot, a nine-speaker Harmon Kardon premium stereo, and an upgraded 10-inch touchscreen with updated infotainment system software.

Leather upholstery, along with ventilated front seats, and a power-adjustable driver’s seat with memory function are optional extras.

The top-end Volkswagen GTI Autobahn trim starts at $37,995 without the added $995 destination fee. It adds adaptive suspension dampers, tri-zone automatic climate control, an automatic parking assist system, heated rear seats, automatic high-beam headlights, and the optional extras from the GTI SE trim.

More Photos:

See more 2022 Volkswagen GTI Photos.