People are probably a bit disappointed that Volkswagen decided to discontinue the standard Golf in the US, and understandably so. The small hatchback has been a staple for the brand since it arrived Stateside in 1983. But there is a silver lining: Americans will still get the GTI and Golf R, and both of those models promise to be better than ever. Proof of that comes in the form of the newly debuted 2022 Volkswagen Golf R.
This is the most powerful VW Golf R ever built. Packing a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, the new Golf R produces 315 horsepower (235 kilowatts) and 310 pound-feet (420 newton-meters), which gives it a 0-60 time of 4.7 seconds and a top track speed of 155 mph (250 kmh). Those power figures represent a 27-horse and 15-lb-ft increase compared to the previous model, and buyers can choose from either a six-speed manual transmission or an optional seven-speed DSG.
As you’d expect, the 2022 Golf R comes standard with 4Motion all-wheel drive – but this setup is a bit different than in previous generations. VW touts a new rear differential that distributes power variably between the axles, with the ability to send up to 100 percent of torque to the outside wheel using a dedicated “Drift Mode” feature. The new Drift Mode is one of two special drive modes configurable within Race mode and joins standard drive options like Sport, Comfort, and Individual.
VW also totally retuned the Golf R’s strut-type front and multi-link rear suspension and gave it a 0.8-inch (20-millimeter) lower ride height than the previous version. The stiffer springs and new geometry makes the new performance Golf 10 percent stiffer than its predecessor both front and rear, with a one-percent decrease in negative camber and a weight loss of 6.6 pounds thanks to the lightweight aluminum subframe.
Visually, the latest Golf R certainly looks as good as its performance suggests. The hot hatch gets a new front bumper with a motorsport-inspired splitter, R-specific air intake grilles, and gloss black elements throughout. A set of 19-inch alloy wheels come standard and wrapped in summer performance tires.
The cabin gets a tech-forward design – similar to what we’ve already seen on the GTI – highlighted by a 10.0-inch touchscreen, VW’s Digital Cockpit with a virtual instrument cluster, and even touchpad controllers on the steering wheel, replacing traditional analog buttons. There’s even a special “R” button on the steering wheel for easy access to the Race drive mode. Blue trim pieces and “R” logos adorn the seats, dash, and steering wheel, while the Golf R gets optional Nappa leather seating surfaces for the first time.
The 2022 VW Golf R will go on sale in the US beginning late next year. No word on pricing, but considering the 2019 model started at $40,395, expect the new version to cost just as much if not slightly more.