Bad Ass: Meet the 2022 Volkswagen Golf R, the Most Powerful, Capable Golf Yet
VW’s hottest hatch makes 315 horsepower and features plenty of upgrades for raucous handling and no excuses.
We saw the MkVIII Volkswagen Golf GTI reveal earlier this year, and everyone knew the next-gen 2022 Golf R was just around the corner. Now, it is finally here, and the kick-ass new Golf R is of course the quickest and most capable production Golf yet. For starters, Volkswagen says 0-to-62 mph happens in just 4.7 seconds, meaning its 0-60 time should be closer to 4.5.
2022 Volkswagen Golf R: New Driving Modes
We loved our 2016 VW Golf R long-term test car and its impressive performance, and the latest version takes its capabilities to another overall level. In addition to Comfort, Sport, Race, and Individual driving modes, the 2022 VW Golf R receives two new modes: Drift and Special, the latter being a nod to the Nürburgring, where the new Golf set a time of 7 minutes, 53 seconds. To put that time into perspective, the previous Golf R completed it's official 'Ring lap in 8:10. And here's a little more perspective on how far performance cars have come in less than two decades: The 2022 Golf R's lap time is right on par with the 996-series Porsche 911 GT3 and with the 997-series 911 Turbo around the Nordschleife. Indeed, when a driver selects the Special driving profile, the car's drive-system parameters, including the new performance-based 4Motion all-wheel-drive system, are configured for hot laps on the Nürburgring.
To that end, Special mode has softer suspension-damper settings to improve the tires' contact with the road. According to VW, based upon the brake pressure a driver applies to 2022 Golf Rs equipped with the optional dual-clutch transmission, downshifts complement the braking more than they did so in the past before entering corners. What's more, the all-wheel drive and, as a result, the car's lateral behavior are tuned for better on-track handling.
Drift mode (legal disclaimer: intended for track use only) changes the standard stability-control parameters to Sport and, together with the all-wheel-drive system, allows the Golf R to drift. The electronic stability-control Sport mode reduces the intensity of interventions and increases the ESC's and the traction control's slip-angle thresholds. As an added safety (legal) measure, before Drift mode activates, the infotainment system displays a prompt for the driver to confirm his or her acknowledgement that Drift is for use only on private roads. Fun feature: automatic upshifts are deactivated in both Special and Drift modes.
2022 Volkswagen Golf R: Powertrain
The new Golf R is scheduled to go on sale later in 2021, and it is powered by VW's 2.0-liter turbo-four engine that now makes 315 horsepower and 310 lb-ft of torque. Those figures represent gains of 27 hp and 30 lb-ft compared to the previous Golf R, and 4Motion all-wheel drive and a six-speed manual gearbox are standard; as mentioned, a seven-speed DSG dual-clutch gearbox is available as an option.
The most powerful Golf R in the model's history makes its peak torque from 2,100 rpm, and that peak remains constant all the way to 5,350 rpm. An electronic coolant-regulator unit provides quick engine warm-up and efficient thermal management, which reduces fuel consumption, VW says. Another new engine feature, variable valve timing on the intake and exhaust cams, improves emissions, fuel consumption, and performance.
2022 Volkswagen Golf R: Suspension Updates
A retuned suspension consists of a 0.8-inch lower ride height, a strut-type front and a multi-link rear, and anti-roll bar and spring rates decreased by 10 percent. For improved stability and to allow higher cornering speeds, the front suspension features more negative camber, and its overall design saves 6.6 pounds thanks to a new aluminum subframe. The rear suspension's transverse-link mounts and hub carriers are also revised.
Now equipped with a newly developed torque-vectoring all-wheel-drive system, the 2022 VW Golf R has a new rear differential. The rear axle features selective wheel-torque control, and the new rear differential distributes power between the front and rear axles. Additionally, the two rear wheels can split torque variably, and altogether this setup helps increase cornering agility. Up to 100 percent of torque can be directed to the wheel on the outside of a corner, which decreases understeer.
The Vehicle Dynamics Manager software interconnects the electronic differential locks, AWD, and adaptive-damping systems to deliver better traction, handling, and maximum agility. According to VW, the VDM program monitors the Golf R's handling in every corner; it can automatically correct understeer or oversteer. As well as calculating precise clutch control for the selective wheel-torque control, VDM can also help improve load change and yaw at high speeds.
An improved braking system includes larger, 14.1-inch front discs, two-piston aluminum calipers, and a larger brake master cylinder.
2022 Volkswagen Golf R: Exterior Design
An updated front bumper featuring R-specific air intake vents, a motorsport-style splitter, and high-gloss black trim give the 2022 Golf R a meaner look. One notable update to the front end, though, is the blue crossbar that stretches back into the fenders and doubles down as daytime running lights. The LED light strip, integrated atop the radiator grille, illuminates when the engine starts. Standard equipment includes 19-inch wheels wearing summer performance tires, a sunroof, matte-chrome mirror caps, and blue brake calipers.
When the doors open or close, an R logo projects onto the ground surface. The rear bumper now features a high-gloss back diffuser, and the standard sport-exhaust system gets chrome-plated dual exhaust tips. Complete with a roof spoiler, the 2022 Volkswagen Golf R is available in three colors: Deep Black Pearl Effect, Pure White, and Lapiz Blue Metallic-the R's signature paint finish.
2022 Volkswagen Golf R: Interior Upgrades and Standard Gear
The digital cockpit boasts a configurable instrument panel and a 10.0-inch Discover Pro touchscreen infotainment screen that incorporates graphics tailored to the 2022 Golf R. As soon as the vehicle is opened with the key, a new R welcome screen displays to greet the driver. Also featuring unique R graphics, a variety of layouts can be selected via the "view" button on the multifunction steering wheel.
While the car retains instrument layouts from the previous model, new to the R is the Sport Skin, which displays a central rev counter that includes the R logo. An exclusive 3D-look configuration with numerical fields, R-View, has a horizontal rev counter at the top edge of the display. The digital cockpit can display data such as gearbox temperature, turbo-boost pressure, torque distribution of the all-wheel-drive system, and a lap timer.
The Golf R also treats its passengers with a top-of-the-line cabin that features sport seats, Nappa leather seating surfaces, carbon-inspired trim pieces with blue accents, and a heated multifunction sport steering wheel. Other sweet touches are an R button for direct selection of the drive modes, a blue R logo on the front-seat backrests, ergonomically shaped DSG paddle shifters, and blue contrast stitching.
A nifty update to the steering wheel, which features touch controls and haptic feedback, is the ability to activate Race mode by a more forceful press of the R button. R-specific door trim, 30-color ambient lighting, carbon-inspired dash panel décor, and brushed stainless-steel pedal caps and footrest also come standard. Pricing for the 2022 Volkswagen Golf R is yet to be announced.
2022 Volkswagen Golf R Highlights
- On sale in 2021
- LED lightstrip daytime running lights
- Drift and Special drive modes
- 0-liter turbocharged engine rated at 315 hp, 310 lb-ft of torque
- Vehicle Dynamics Manager software
- Performance-based 4Motion AWD system
- Digital cockpit with exclusive R-View configuration