Is Volkswagen ready to give fast daddies a solution?

Performance and practicality are two words that rarely go together. More often than not we talk about the perfect compromise between the two, rather than the perfect blend. That doesn’t stop manufacturers from trying to give us the best performing version of a normal car.

Station wagons, in particular, seem to be making a comeback and currently, Volkswagen is rigorously testing a more practical version of its Golf R – the Variant. Regardless of which version we talk about, the people’s car from Germany has always been a good all-rounder, but does the Golf R Variant still has what it takes to compete?

Drivetrain & Performance

2022 Volkswagen Golf R Variant Exterior Spyshots
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For more than a decade now, Volkswagen has been using exclusively 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engines in their compact and mid-size performance versions.

Naturally, the Golf R Variant will share the Golf R hatchback’s turbo-four, which in this eight-generation is said to produce 333 horsepower. Torque will most probably be in the 295 pound-feet (400 Nm) to 310 pound-feet (420 Nm) range.

Power will go to all four wheels via a seven-speed DSG unit. Rumors suggest that there might be a six-speed manual as well. The 0 to 60 mph sprint is expected to be in around 4.6 seconds. The competition isn’t getting any weaker so that 333 horsepower figure better be true.

2022 Volkswagen Golf R Variant Exterior Spyshots
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What’s interesting is that we already know the Arteon R and Tiguan R have the same engine, but in these cars, it only makes 316 horsepower.

It is possible that the 333-horsepower figure is exaggerated, or it could be that in the Tiguan, that engine is set-up for more torque at the cost of horsepower. A common procedure when using the same engine both in crossovers and compact vehicles. Just like the hatchback, the Golf R Variant boasts a lower, stiffer suspension, bigger wheels, and bigger brakes.

2022 Volkswagen Golf R specifications
Engine 2.0-liter Turbocharged Four-Cylinder
Transmission Six-Speed Manual or Seven-Speed DSG
Horsepower 333 Horsepower
Torque 310 Pound-Feet 
Driveline 4Motion AWD
0-60 MPH 4.6 Seconds
Top Speed 155 mph

Exterior

2022 Volkswagen Golf R Variant Exterior Spyshots
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The spy shots show a sportier version of the Golf Variant. Although it’s been cleverly disguised as a Golf Alltrack, the bigger wheels, brakes, and quad exhaust pipes give it away.

You would expect the sporty station wagon to have the same distinctive design features as its hot hatch brother. Although the camouflage makes the Golf R Variant design features difficult to distinguish, it is believed that the Variant will indeed score the same aggressive design elements as the hatchback.

2022 Volkswagen Golf R Variant Exterior Spyshots
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Exterior-wise, even by disguising it as an Alltrack, you can still see that they’ve sprinkled some chilly into the recipe.

The R Variant will most likely retain the typical for a Golf - subtle look, with a hint of performance. This would mean, bigger aero-elements on the front bumper, a diffuser incorporating shark fins, and possibly that integrated carbon-fiber spoiler that we see on the hatchback.

Interior

If You Thought the Volkswagen Golf R Was Great Before, The 2022 MK8 Will Blow Your Mind Interior
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Volkswagen is usually known as one of the more conservative manufacturers that don’t like to make tremendous changes. The cliché “evolution not revolution” describes their philosophy quite well. That said, the new Golf interior has succumbed to the modern trends. Ambient lighting and digital instrument clusters are a familiar sight nowadays, but Volkswagen has taken it even further by giving us a buttonless interior.

Like in most vehicles, many of the functions are controlled through the high-resolution, touchscreen in the middle. But even so, every other button is replaced by a touch-sensitive surface.

Being a Golf, practicality has always been in mind when designing each generation. The new eight generation boasts a more spacious interior.

If You Thought the Volkswagen Golf R Was Great Before, The 2022 MK8 Will Blow Your Mind Interior
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The total interior space is now 71 inches (1,798 mm) or 1.9 inches (48 mm) more than before.

The additional length can be felt especially in the second row, with the increase of legroom. Cargo capacity is generous as well, with a minimum of 21.6 cubic feet (611 liters). Fold the rear seats and you get 58 cubic feet (1,642 liters).

Price

2022 Volkswagen Golf R Variant Exterior Spyshots
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The car is yet to come out, so pricing is still unknown. That said, the Golf R has always been in the high $30,000 to low $40,000 range. Cars are getting more and more expensive, with each new generation costing an average of $1,500 more than its predecessor. Add the same amount if you want the station wagon version of the car, and we are most likely going to be looking at a $40,000 starting price for the Golf R Variant.

Competition

Seat CUPRA Leon Sportstourer

2022 Volkswagen Golf R Variant
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In Europe, the Golf has a bit of internal competition, not from not one but from two family members - the Skoda Octavia and Seat Leon. The latter has always strived to give sportier, more exciting versions of Volkswagen automobiles. With the new CUPRA Leon, the Spanish name gives you basically the same Golf R Variant underpinnings, dressed in sportier clothing. The engine is the same 2.0-liter inline-four turbocharged unit. You get from 245 to 310 horsepower, and up to 280 pound0feet (380 Nm). The Cupra can be had with front or all-wheel-drive. You can also choose between a six-speed manual or a DSG automatic. In top trim, the Golf’s evil relative accelerates to 60 mph in 4.7 seconds. At the same time, it offers nearly identical interior space. Cargo capacity is almost as generous, at 20.7 cubic feet (587 liters). Prices for the 310 horsepower variant go up to the equivalent of $ 46,000.

Skoda Octavia vRS Station Wagon

2020 Skoda Octavia vRS iV Exterior
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The bestseller from the Czech Republic is another relative to the Golf, sharing the same basic architecture and drivetrain. The new performance version of the Octavia has a surprise under the hood. It ditched the usual 2.0-liter turbo-four for a Plug-in hybrid drivetrain. The internal combustion engine is now a 1.4-liter turbocharged inline-four. Together with the electric motor, they send 245 horsepower and 295 pound-feet (400 Nm) to the front wheels, via a DSG automatic. The 0 to 60 mph time takes a bit longer than before, at 6.9 seconds, but the Skoda returns up to 158 mpg (1.5L/100km) – three times more than its competitors. Cargo space manages to dwarf the Golf, with a minimum of 22.6 cubic feet (640 liters) and 60 cubic feet (1,700 liters) after folding the rear seats. Prices start at around $ 46,526.

Read our full review on the Skoda Octavia vRS Station Wagon

Mercedes CLA Shooting Brake

2020 Mercedes-Benz CLA Shooting Brake Exterior
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Starting at around $ 38,000 the CLA Shooting Brake is a unique proposition in the segment. It’s also, technically, the closest thing to a Golf R Variant’s direct competitor. For about $ 45,000 you can get the CLA 35 trim, which gives you 306 horsepower and 295 pound-feet (400 Nm) out of a 2.0-liter turbo-four. With all-wheel-drive and a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic, you get 0 to 60 mph in 4.7 seconds, which is expected to be on par with the R Variant. However, the sleek shooting brake design sacrifices practicality for style. With 17.8 cubic feet (505 liters) it’s not impractical, and it can go up to 48.8 cubic feet (1,370 liters) after folding the rear seats. Interior space is not as generous as the Golf though, especially in the back, where taller individuals may struggle. Overall, you get less practicality for more money.

Read our full review on the Mercedes CLA Shooting Brake

Conclusion

2022 Volkswagen Golf R Variant Exterior Spyshots
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The Golf doesn’t really need an introduction. Regardless of its body style, it manages to incorporate practicality, comfort, good build quality, and in the case the GTI and R versions performance, while keeping the price relatively affordable. At the same time, Volkswagen and Audi are like two parents of a big family, and the latter invented performance station wagons. The Golf R Variant, like before, takes everything that makes the Golf R a great, complete package and makes it more family-friendly.

Dim Angelov
Born in 1992, I come from a family of motoring enthusiasts. My passion for cars was awoken at the age of six, when I saw a Lamborghini Diablo SV in a magazine. After high school I earned a master’s degree in marketing and a Master of Arts in Media and Communications. Over the years, I’ve practiced and become skilled in precision driving and to date have test driven more than 250 cars across the globe. Over the years, I’ve picked up basic mechanical knowledge and have even taken part in the restoration of a 1964 Jaguar E-Type and an Alfa Romeo Giulia Sprint. Lately, I’ve taken a fancy to automotive photography, and while modern cars are my primary passion, I also have a love for Asian Martial Arts, swimming, war history, craft beer, historical weapons, and car restoration. In time, I plan my own classic car restoration and hope to earn my racing certificate, after which I expect to establish my own racing team.  Read More
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