• Car Review

Driven: 2022 VW Golf R Review + Video

By Michael O'Connor | June 14, 2022

Overview:

Vehicle Type: Hatchback.

Price Range: $44,640 - $45,440

Powertrain: The 2022 VW Golf R comes with one powertrain option, a turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-four-cylinder.

This engine puts out 315 horsepower and 310 pound-feet of torque, which is an increase over the previous generation’s output.

Drivers have a choice of a six-speed manual or a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic; we tested (and preferred) the manual.

Both options come with a standard 4Motion AWD system.


Video Review:


What’s New for 2022?

The 2022 Golf R is a brand new redesign after two years off and the discontinuation of the standard Golf. It's based on the lesser Golf GTI and features a crisp redesign inside and out, a host of performance goodies, and a pair of in-dash infotainment screens.

For this new version, the Golf R is up 27 horsepower and features an updated AWD system -- 4Motion -- which has the same traction-enhancing capabilities but with added torque vectoring for the rear wheels. The system moves more torque to the outside wheel when cornering to implement better, tighter handling.

It also includes a Drift mode that will send all the torque to one wheel if you want to do power slides or donuts.


What’s Good?

  • An increase in power that makes this much more than your standard hatchback
  • Amazing adaptability with different drive modes and incredibly sporty handling and traction control
  • Quick shifting with the seven-speed dual-clutch automatic that is a step up from previous incarnations

What’s Bad?

  • The price of the Golf R is much higher than other hatchbacks in its class, making it a less-than-affordable option
  • The touch control system on the interior is not intuitive and will take some getting used to if you want to be able to make changes on the fly
  • Some find the exterior design to be too subdued.

Would we buy one?

Yes! The 2022 Golf R is a fun, down-to-earth hot hatchback that offers incredible handling capabilities and a sporty feel as well as top-of-the-class power and torque.


More Photos:

See more 2022 VW Golf R Photos.


Overview:

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The Volkswagen Golf has long been known as one of the best hot hatchbacks on the market and the discontinuation of the standard Golf after the 2021 model year took many die-hards by surprise. That’s why the new Golf R is such a joyous and highly-anticipated vehicle. Not only does it improve upon the format popularized by the Golf GTI, but it also has its own slew of incredible features and smartly-designed extras.

The 2022 Golf R comes with an incredibly powerful 315-horsepower inline-four with a turbocharger and 310 pound-feet of torque. Not only that, the controls and the new 4Motion AWD system allow you to dictate where that torque goes and how it is applied. This gives you so many options when it comes to how your Golf R will handle and what it is capable of.

It also features some selectable driving modes such as Comfort, Race, Sport, Drift, Individual, which can be changed with the push of a button on the steering wheel.

There's also an adaptive suspension, torque vectoring, upgraded brakes to keep things entertaining.

The interior of the Golf R features a sporty design and Nappa leather-wrapped front seats. It also comes with ambient lighting that allows you to choose from over 30 colors as well as blue and carbon accents throughout. The 10-inch touchscreen infotainment system is enhanced by touch-sensitive sliders and a 10.2-inch digital gauge cluster is fully customizable to fit your information needs at any given time.

On top of its performance capabilities, the Golf R also comes with a suite of safety features that can help prop up some of the sportier capabilities. These include things like automated emergency braking and lane-keeping assist. Any features that you would expect from a new, top-of-the-line vehicle are included on the 2022 Golf R.


Overall Score: 4.5/5 stars

Styling & Design: 5/5 stars

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The profile of the Golf R is low-slung and incredibly sleek with excellent attention to detail.

The 19” aluminum-alloy wheels and matte silver mirror caps are just two examples of the sporty stylistic choices made by Volkswagen that give the Golf R an excellent look.

The R-Line design spoiler in the rear adds to the sports car aesthetic and helps increase downforce in the rear.

Top Sport seats in the front are wrapped with Nappa leather and give the Golf R a hint of luxury to go along with the sporty race car feel of the interior.


Driving Experience: 5/5 stars

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Without a doubt, the driving experience of the 2022 Golf R is well worth the high price tag and the lack of fuel economy.

The Drift mode and Race mode are incredibly fun to drive and bring a level of quick drivability and complete control that other hatchbacks don’t have.

Overall, the brakes feel stout, the steering is communicative, and there's tons of power whenever you need it. Oh, and we also liked the slick but precise feel of the six-speed manual shifter.

The Golf R’s sister car, the Volkswagen Golf GTI, can’t even compare to the number of options and tunability that the suspension has, nor is is anywhere near exciting to drive hard.

Being able to dictate the amount of lb-ft of torque going to certain wheels is a great way to get the most out of the suspension and have a responsive and quick driving feel.


Value: 4/5 stars

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The 2022 Golf R is a great car for people who are looking for a performance vehicle but don't want something that looks too flashy or convoluted on the outside.

That said, it's still roughly $14,000 more than the Golf GTI, an also-fun hatchback that rides on the same platform and shares a similar (albeit less powerful) turbo engine.

So at about $45,000, it's certainly not a bargain but it will leave you feeling like you're getting plenty for your money.


Tech Features: 4.5/5 stars

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The Golf R is loaded with tech features that come standard with the one available trim level.

Comes with full connectivity options including Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and a Wi-Fi hotspot.

The 10-inch touchscreen infotainment system eliminates the need for physical buttons, which may be a turn-off for some people who prefer the look and feel of buttons and sliders for controlling their vehicle’s climate control and stereo. This was our biggest frustration with the R...the touch-sensitive controls for the climate. Sure, they got a little easier with time, but we still loathe using them and are begging VW to go back to a more traditional (and functional) setup.

VW Digital Cockpit controls allow you to configure your digital gauges to display the information you need most as well as what appears on the head-up display.

Fully adjustable ambient lighting lets you choose from 30 different colors for the interior cabin lighting.

The Dynamic Chassis Control system gives you many different options for feel and drivability including different levels of comfort and control depending on the road conditions.


Practicality: 3.5/5 stars

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The 2022 Golf R is built for sport-minded drivers and may not be as suitable for people who are looking for a daily driver or commuter car.

The low fuel economy makes it less practical for those who want something to get them from point A to point B.

The interior has quite a lot of room for passengers with 91.1 cubic feet of passenger volume, making it a comfortable choice should you want to bring a group of people out for a sporty drive in the rear seat.

The fact that this is the eighth-generation Golf means that many of the bugs and kinks of the Golf of the past have been worked out and the Volkswagen Golf R is both fun to drive and reliable.

While not as practical as a Subaru Outback, almost all of the Volkswagen Golf R reviews have stated that it is a comfortable vehicle that has a better fuel economy than the Subaru WRX and a more accommodating interior than the Honda Civic Type R.


Safety Features: 5/5 stars

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The 2022 Golf R comes standard with a large suite of safety features and technologies that can help offset some of the sporty unpredictability of the car.

These features include things like lane-keeping assist, adaptive cruise control, and blind-spot monitoring, which can be helpful when you are zipping through traffic or tearing it up in the city.

Also includes parking sensors that will help alert you to things like curbs or bike racks that may not be visible.

The standard head-up display helps you keep your eyes on the road instead of on your gauges and keeps your attention focused where it needs to be.

Forward-collision warning lets you know if there are any obstacles in the road that you may not be aware of, such as debris, branches, or other detritus that wouldn’t be visible from the driver’s seat.

Efficiency: 3/5 stars

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The fuel efficiency of the Golf R is not nearly as robust as some other cars in its class and will not be a good choice if you are looking for a daily driver.

With an EPA-estimated 23 MPG city and 30 MPG highway for the automatic transmission option, there are certainly other hatchbacks that can offer better gas mileage in both categories.

The manual transmission version of the Golf R has even lower fuel economy with an EPA-estimated 20 MPG city and 28 MPG highway.

Over 360 miles of testing during our week with the car (manual gearbox) we averaged 23.6 MPG, but keep in mind, that included some hard driving that wasn't kind to the fuel efficiency.

This lack of fuel economy is due to the turbo in the inline-four and the amount of power pumping through such a low-displacement engine.

The fast acceleration and high performance make up for the lack of fuel economy if that is what you are buying the Golf R for in the first place.


What’s it Going to Cost Me?

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The Golf R is only available in one trim so any price differences are going to depend on the various options you can choose from in the drivetrain or additional equipment. If you are looking to get the six-speed manual transmission, the Golf R starts at a base price of $44,640, including destination.

With the seven-speed DSG automatic Tiptronic transmission, which includes an extra Sport mode as a setting, the Golf R costs $45,440 including destination.

For our money, the Volkswagen Golf R is a fantastic hot hatch that is a cut above other cars in its class, such as the Hyundai Veloster N. The ability to change the amount of torque going to the rear axle and the turbocharged four-cylinder engine make it a great car for people looking to have a little fun when they are driving around town or jamming around a track. The combination of power and handling makes it a good choice for those who want unparalleled drivability and quick action all rolled into one.


More Photos:

See more 2022 VW Golf R Photos.