2022 Volkswagen Golf R
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2022 Volkswagen Golf R Review

The 2022 Volkswagen Golf R is all-new with a more modern interior, increased power, and a new Drift Mode. But it's also more expensive. So, is VW's 315-hp hot hatch still worth it? Here's a closer look at pricing, interior, and performance.

Key Features:

  • More power and performance
  • New Drift Mode
  • More features and refinement

Direct Competitors:

  • Mercedes-AMG A35
  • Hyundai Veloster N
  • Honda Civic Type-R

There are some things in life that truly do get better with time. When cellared properly, certain fine wines can evolve and improve, likewise, the best cheeses come to those who wait. If you consider the values of anything that passes as a moderately collectible machine from days-gone-by, it would seem that cars must get better with time, too. 

But there are some contemporary machines that, through a measured evolutionary process change slowly over time, yet somehow keep getting better and better. The 2022 Volkswagen Golf R is just such a car. 

VW Golf R price 

2022 Volkswagen Golf R | Photo: VW 

All-new this year, the Golf R starts at $45,995 for a six-speed manual car like our tester. That’s a few grand pricier than the preceding generation, but it comes with more bells and whistles now. In fact, VW has pretty much loaded up the Golf R out of the box with the only options being a $1,400 DSG transmission, and $1,250 panoramic sunroof.

If that sounds like a lot of money for a car that most people presume is the same econo-box Golf driven by millions around the world, well, it kind of is, but for those who’ve had the pleasure of actually driving one, they will surely know its value. 

Comparing the Golf R’s price to its competitors

When compared with other hot hatchbacks, the Golf R sits smack-dab in the middle in terms of cost. Honda’s last Civic Type-R started at $46,200, and a Mercedes-AMG A35 hatchback rings in at $51,900, before the litany of option packages required to bring it up to the Golf R’s equipment level. A Hyundai Veloster N will save nearly ten grand, but its features, finishes and refinement speak to the cost savings, making the Volkswagen appear a decent value for dollar.

2022 Volkswagen Golf R interior

2022 Volkswagen Golf R | Photo: VW 

There have been some rumblings of cost-cutting in the new generation’s interior, but if that’s the case, they’re well-hidden from us. Compared with the likes of the Civic Type-R and Veloster N, the materials and design are a cut above, rivalling the costlier Mercedes hatchback. In particular, the heated, leather-covered Recaro seats are supportive during high cornering loads, yet comfortable for long trips.

More modern, simplified dashboard layout

But Volkswagen’s designers got carried away in giving the dashboard a modern, simplified look, resulting in some diminished functionality. In particular, the strip of capacitive touch controls for volume adjustment and some of the climate control functions are particularly tedious, often resulting in unexpected changes if the driver rests his or her hand on the ledge to tap the touch screen display. 

2022 Volkswagen Golf R | Photo: VW 

Buyers would do well to spend some time with the owner’s manual and set up shortcuts for their prioritized functions, or try to make use of voice command functions, instead. 

One of the best things about the Golf R is its ability to serve double-duty as both sports car and practical daily driver. The latter is afforded thanks to its boxy shape, allowing decent room for up to five passengers and their luggage.

Performance & drive impressions 

315 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque

The Golf R has always delivered impressive performance and for 2022 the evolutionary improvements apply dynamically too. Power from the 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine has been boosted up to 315 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque. 

2022 Volkswagen Golf R | Photo: VW 

Those opting for the manual transmission will have their torque dialed back to 280 since the last-minute decision to offer a stick-shift meant going back to last year’s gearbox rated for the lower figure.

Manual stick-shift: less torque than DSG transmission but absolutely worth it

Drivers who choose to row-their-own gears need not worry since even with 280 lb-ft of torque, the new Golf R still rockets forward with gusto. The E888 engine is a very tractable mill that provides a generous wallop of power throughout the rev range, making it an ideal machine to squirt through traffic, or tear up the back roads. 

2022 Volkswagen Golf R | Photo: VW 

Top that with precise shifts and smooth clutch action, and the engaging manual transmission version should be a no-brainer choice for most enthusiasts, even if the DSG is quicker and more fuel efficient.

Standard AWD

The Golf R’s standard all-wheel-drive system and grippy tires give the little VW tenacious grip, especially when exiting a corner, making it a fun (and safe) sports car for use in all weather. The steering is quick and offers decent feel for what’s happening where the rubber literally meets the road, and braking is powerful with a progressive pedal feel.

Drift Mode new for 2022

For 2022, Volkswagen has added a drift mode to the Golf R that utilizes a trick new rear differential that sends up to 50% of the power to one rear corner or the other, essentially upsetting the car’s balance and swinging its tail wide for giggle-inducing fun. 

2022 Volkswagen Golf R | Photo: VW 

Since at least 50% of the power is always directed to the front wheels, the VW’s default behaviour is to claw itself back into a straight line, but this is still the friskiest Golf R we can recall.

Verdict: is the Golf R worth it?

There’ll be some who will write-off the new Golf R because of the challenging driver interface with the climate and audio controls. Those folks will be missing out on a sensationally engaging driver’s car that balances true driving enjoyment and daily-life practicality better than darn-near anything else on the road. 

Volkswagen has evolved the Golf R to further polish the refined hot-hatchback it’s always been, adding more features and luxury, but also more performance and fun. As it has always been, the Golf R remains a winner, and with Volkswagen’s evolutionary updates, it’s now even better with age.

Hatchbacks are a great alternative to 4-door sedans – they often look sportier, gain better performance and driving dynamics, and provide great cargo space with that rear, 5th-door hatch. Here’s a look at our current inventory of used, certified hatchback cars. 

2022 Volkswagen Golf R | Photo: VW 

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