2022 Volkswagen Golf R Keeps Stick Shift, Gets More Power and Trick AWD

Looks like: The Golf R gets a mean mug

Competes with: Honda Civic Type R, Subaru WRX STi

Powertrain: 315-horsepower, turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder; six-speed manual transmission or seven-speed dual-clutch automatic; all-wheel drive

Hits dealerships: End of 2021

Volkswagen’s Golf R hot hatch is getting a redesign for 2022 that also promises more power. In fact, VW says it uses the “most powerful version” of the Golf lineup’s turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine. 

Related: StaR Performers: 2018 Honda Civic Type R Vs. 2018 Volkswagen Golf R 

AggRessive Styling

The 2022 Golf R retains its hatchback shape but gets an aggressive new face and a sleeker looking profile. In front, it wears a motorsport-style splitter, R-specific air intake grilles and high-gloss black trim bits. Above the grille is an LED crossbar that lights up when the engine starts and stretches to the fenders. 

The Golf R has a stance 0.8 inch lower than the regular Golf, and it rides on 19-inch aluminum-alloy wheels and summer performance tires accented by blue brake calipers. Other exterior highlights include R specific side skirts, chrome-plated twin tailpipes, a high-gloss black diffuser incorporated into the bumper, a roof spoiler and matte-chrome exterior mirror caps that project the R logo onto the road.

A moonroof is newly standard, and three exterior colors will be available: Lapiz Blue Metallic, Pure White and Deep Black Pearl Effect.

Digitized Interior 

The Golf R’s cabin features standard Nappa leather sports seats with carbon-looking trim, blue accents and R logos. Other highlights include carbon-look dash panel trim, R-specific door trim, brushed stainless-steel pedal caps and driver footrest, and a 30-color ambient lighting system. It also gets an R-specific heated leather sport steering wheel with blue contrast stitching and an R button that launches various driving profiles (Comfort, Sport, Race, Individual, Special and Drift). 

The Golf uses the latest version of the Volkswagen Discover Pro multimedia system with a large 10-inch touchscreen. Also standard is the Digital Cockpit configurable instrument panel; it features specific R graphics and a new 3D function called R-View. There’s also a new horizontal rev counter at the top of the display.

More Power and the Manual Transmission Remains

The 2022 Golf R uses the fourth generation of VW’s turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, delivering 315 horsepower — 27 more than the outgoing model. Maximum torque is also up, from 295 to 310 pounds-feet. A six-speed manual transmission is standard; a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission is optional. 

Like the Golf R models before it, the new one will still have standard 4Motion all-wheel drive, but it now features a new mechanical torque-vectoring system. It uses a new rear differential and selective wheel torque control on the rear axle to distribute power between the two rear wheels. It can send up to 100% of power to one rear wheel on demand. VW says the setup should make the already agile Golf R much more nimble, specifically when cornering by helping it rotate around a corner.

Two new driving modes are Special and Drift, which have unique intentions. Special mode’s suspension and AWD calibrations are tuned for the 13-mile Nurburgring Nordschleife racetrack (softer than Race mode for the track’s undulations), where the new Golf R is 17 seconds faster than its predecessor, according to VW. Drift mode is, as advertised, a mode that uses stability control and AWD settings to let the Golf R drift sideways.   

VW estimates the 2022 Golf R will sprint from 0-62 mph in 4.7 seconds, with a top speed of 155 mph. Stopping power has also been increased for 2022 thanks to larger discs and shorter pedal travel, while the springs and anti-roll bars have both been stiffened by 10%.    

Release Date

The 2022 Volkswagen Golf R will go on sale in the U.S. at the end of 2021. 

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News Editor Jennifer Geiger joined the automotive industry in 2003, much to the delight of her Corvette-obsessed dad. Jennifer is an expert reviewer, certified car-seat technician and mom of three. She wears a lot of hats — many of them while driving a minivan. Email Jennifer Geiger

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