2022 Volkswagen Golf-R - Performance, Price, and Photos

With restrained styling and grown-up manners, find out if the latest iteration of the Golf R is the ultimate performance hot hatch

Few automakers do daily-driver hot hatchbacks, as well as Volkswagen does. VW effectively invented the category more than four decades ago with the MK1 Golf GTI. Now, with the latest GTI and Golf R, the German automaker wants to remind enthusiasts that they’re indeed the masters of the hot hatch space.

The Golf R was initially not available in the United States, but that changed in 2003 when the R32 came along. Fast forward to today and we essentially have what Volkswagen touts as the fastest and most highly performance-oriented Golf they’ve ever made.

The Golf R took a hiatus from 2020 to 2021. Well, it’s now back for the 2022 model year. With over 300 horsepower, standard all-wheel drive, and a choice of either a manual or automatic transmission, find out if the eight-generation Volkswagen Golf R is the holy grail of the breed when it comes to daily driving, all-weather hot hatches.

  • Leave it
    • Fiddley touch-sensitive controls for climate and radio
    • Limited exterior color option
    • Expensive starting price, for a high-performance hatchback

2022 Volkswagen Golf-R Performance and Capability

2022 Volkswagen Golf-R - Performance, Price, and Photos Exterior
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The MK7 Golf R was starting to fall behind the competition and VW chose to give the Golf R a much-needed power boost on this latest iteration. Under the hood of the 2022 Golf R lies a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine, that produces 315 horsepower and up to 280 pound-feet of torque. The 2022 Golf R puts out approximately 30 more horsepower than the model it replaces making it the fastest and most powerful series production Golf R, to date.

If you opt for the seven-speed DSG, you get 295 pound-feet of torque in place of the six-speed manual’s 280 pound-feet. An all-wheel-drive system comes as standard. It is capable of directing 100 percent of the power in one direction and up to 50 percent of the power in the other. The automatic is almost 100 pounds heavier and weighs little more than 3,400 pounds.

As for acceleration, VW claims that the DSG should reach 60 mph in around 4.7 seconds while the six-speed, which is only available in the U.S. should do it in the low five-second range. The Golf R’s top speed is 155 mph, although it can reach almost 170 mph if you take off the limiter.

2022 Volkswagen Golf-R - Performance, Price, and Photos
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Now a Golf R is so much more than just the drivetrain and powertrain. The brakes on this latest generation Golf R from VW were dramatically improved and now feature 14.1-inch diameter slotted discs with four-piston fixed calipers up front and 12.2-inch diameter slotted discs at the rear. You get blue-painted calipers on each corner, with the R logo stamped on the front. You should get excellent stopping power from them.

The Golf R’s standard adaptive dampers have 15 different levels of adjustment, allowing you to effectively switch from an extremely firm suspension all the way down to a comfort suspension.

The front-mounted limited-slip differential further aids handling. You can enter a special mode that effectively puts the vehicle in maximum attack mode and resembles a special mode for the Nürburgring. However, you can easily switch the stability control to a sport level from this mode.

While a special drift mode lets you happily get the tail end out, the Golf R still has the advantage of coming in as an excellent daily driver. Tat for instance the gas mileage, rated at 20 city and 30 on the highway, which are decent numbers. But you don’t really get a Golf R for its gas mileage do you now?

Volkswagen Golf-R Specs
Displacement 2.0 L, TSI inline four-cylinder
Horsepower 315 hp
Torque 295 lb-ft (A) / 280 lb-ft (M)
Transmission 6-Speed Manual / 7-Speed DSG Auto
0-60 4.7 s
Top Speed 155 mph
Drive AWD
Mileage 23 / 30 / 26

Exterior Design

2022 Volkswagen Golf-R - Performance, Price, and Photos Exterior
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The Golf R has always had a rather subdued appearance and sure does fly under the radar, which is a good thing for some folks out there. As for its design, in typical VW fashion, you get understated styling and this Volkswagen doesn’t really shout about its outright pace and performance. Only the keen enthusiast, knows what to look for and can really tell this R apart from lesser Golfs out there.

The Golf R comes with complete LED headlights, along with LED turn signals and LED daytime running lights. An LED accent light that passes through the grille, connects both headlights.

Because of the blue line in the grille and headlights and the extremely modest R badge, the front end is different from the GTI, which has a red line in the front fascia—the black accents help you identify this as a Golf R. Volkswagen did away with the fog lights, but there are still some useful air intakes.

2022 Volkswagen Golf-R - Performance, Price, and Photos Exterior
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From the side, you can tell that this is still based on the MQB architecture sitting at around 168 inches long and a wheelbase that is 103.5 inches. There is a tiny R badge when you look at the remainder of the side profile. The mirror caps feature a metal cover, similar to what you can find on Audi S-line models.

As for rims, the Golf R features gorgeous-looking 19-inch wide-spoke wheels with black inner spokes. They’re wrapped in 235 section Bridgestone Potenza S005 summer performance tires.

Looking at the rear, you can see that the tail lights are now all-LED as well. Very little badging is visible back here. Just the R badge and the VW logo are present. The quad outlet exhausts on the rear bumper diffuser are a distinguishing feature of every Golf R. Undoubtedly, the rear spoiler appears a little more serious. Nevertheless, it is far more subdued than what you see on the Civic Type-R or the Corolla GR.

Finally onto color options and sadly, VW doesn’t offer a lot of choices. You just have three shades to choose from

  • Pure White
  • Lapis Blue
  • Pure black
Exterior Dimensions
Length 168.9 in
Width 70.4 in
Height 57.7 in
Wheelbase 103.5 in
Curb Weight 3481 lbs

Interior Quality and Technology

2022 Volkswagen Golf-R - Performance, Price, and Photos Interior
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The understated theme continues on the inside of the Golf R as well. You basically get a Golf interior, but with some subtle upgrades like the R-Line flat bottom multi-function steering and the stainless steel pedal caps. You have blue accent pieces that break up the titan black interior, letting you know that this indeed is a Golf R.

Taking center stage is a Discover Pro Touchscreen navigation system with a 10-inch display and voice control. The other display is VW’s excellent and highly configurable Digital Cockpit Pro drivers display, which works well with the heads-up display.

Volkswagen has also thrown in a premium Harmon Kardon audio system for your tunes. You get a Sirius XM three-month subscription out of the box along with audio streaming via Bluetooth. Other convenience features include a wireless smartphone charger and four USB C ports.

Now although the inside has some excellent technology, such as the new screens courtesy of the new-gen Golf, the ergonomics have unfortunately worsened. VW should have stuck with conventional knobs and buttons for the radio system and climate control instead of the touch-sensitive controls.

2022 Volkswagen Golf-R - Performance, Price, and Photos Interior
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However, as this is a Golf first, before anything else, interior space is great. Adding to the sense of space is a panoramic sunroof, which should let in enough natural light to lift the otherwise dark cabin. You can choose from a range of ambient light colors to further spruce up the ambiance.

Finished in Nappa leather, you get a pair of heated and ventilated sporty bucket seats with an integrated headrest up front. The driver seat has a 12-way adjustment with memory. The rear seats can easily seat three people and you get heating on the outboard seats. With about 19.9 cubic feet, the cargo room is also excellent. Fold down the seats and it opens up to 35 cubic feet of space.

Interior Dimensions
Seating Capacity 5
Headroom (front) 37.8 in
Headroom (rear) 38.2 in
Legroom (front) 41.2 in
Legroom (rear) 35.0 in
Shoulder room (front) 55.9 in
Shoulder room (rear) 53.9 in
Cargo Room 19.9 cu-ft

2022 Volkswagen Golf-R Price and Availability

2022 Volkswagen Golf R Price
Price
Manual $44,090
Automatic $44,890

The 2022 Volkswagen Golf-R with the six-speed manual, starts at $44,090 and this excludes the $1,095 destination charge. The seven-speed DSG will set you back another $800. The Golf R comes fully loaded and there really isn’t much in terms of optional extras that you can add.

Confiugure your 2022 Volkswagen Golf R here.

Safety

As the R is a Golf first, Volkswagen hasn’t skimped on safety and this high-performance hatchback comes loaded with excellent active and passive safety features out of the box. Apart from the usual safety features like seatbelts, airbags (front, side, curtain), Antil-lock Brakes (ABS), Electronic Brake-pressure Distribution (EBD), and Hydraulic Brake Assist (HBA), you also get, anti-slip regulation, an electronic stability control system with an electronic differential lock, should things get out of hand, be it on the track or out on the road.

Also standard; A slew of driver assistance and convenience features that you don’t generally associate with a high-performance hatchback.

They include:

  • Active Blind Spot Monitor
  • Adaptive Cruise Control
  • High Beam Control
  • Front and Rear Parking Sensors
  • Pedestrian and Cyclist Monitoring
  • Dynamic Road Sign Display
  • Rear-view Camera System
  • Tire-pressure Monitoring System

While the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is yet to rate the latest generation Golf, the 2022 Volkswagen Golf R received the coveted Top Safety Pick+ rating from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) in the small car/4-Door hatchback category.

Main Competition

Here's Everything You Need To Know About The 2023 Honda Civic Type R
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The Volkswagen Golf’s primary nemesis is the current Civic Type-R, but the Golf with its all-wheel drive setup offered a more sophisticated and mature setup. However, Toyota shook up the hot hatch segment with its highly anticipated GR Corolla which also has an all-wheel drive system now.

Honda too, unveiled a more grown-up Civic Type-R for 2023, just days ago. While official power figures aren’t out yet, Honda says that this is the most powerful Type R to date. Regardless, here’s how the three compare in terms of horsepower numbers.

So if you are looking for a high-performance hatchback that doesn’t carry the usual boy-racer looks, you can’t really go wrong with a Golf R. There is enough kit on the Golf R to distinguish it and make it better than a GTI.

The inherent space and practicality that comes with a Golf, are an added bonus and should help it to continue its reign as a fantastic daily driver. Be prepared to spend a great deal of money to get your hands on one though because the 2022 Golf R is the priciest option amongst its contemporaries.

Khris Bharath
Khris Bharath
Khris is a classic car aficionado and adores his Jags and Alfas, although he keeps tabs on everything from super exotics like an old EB 110 to the latest from Lucid. Formula One is very close to his heart, and he diligently makes time to tune in for the Grand Prix on Sundays. Khris also loves his road trips and he prefers a stick shift over an auto any day.  Read full bio
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