It’s one of the most anticipated new cars of 2022 and delivers the thrill and luxury you’d expect from a more expensive car.
VolkswagenThe Golf R has established itself as one of the most powerful hot hatches in the world, and the new model builds on that reputation. However, improvements come at a cost.
There are some interesting new technologies on board.
It has been about eight years since the last Golf R and the needle has shifted in terms of performance and technology. The most notable change is the car’s adaptive suspension. Most hot hatches allow you to choose one of three driving modes: softer damper settings in comfort mode and firmer dampers in sport mode. The Golf R has 15 different suspension settings, from soft to firm. You select them through the menu on the central screen. Race mode combines the tightest setting with more direct steering and maximum throttle response.
The all-wheel drive system is more perfect.
Most on-demand all-wheel drive systems can split power between the front and rear axles for maximum traction, but the R has torque vectoring that can vary the amount of power delivered to either rear wheel. Volkswagen claims that sending more torque to the outside wheel in a corner reduces understeer and provides more precise cornering. On a track with “drift mode” enabled, 100% of the rear wheel torque can be sent to one wheel, allowing the rider to hang out the rear like a rear driver. We struggled to capture torque vectoring when working on the road, but we can report that the R enters corners superbly, cornering eagerly and showing grippy mid-corner grip.
The numbers are impressive
The updated 2.0-litre turbo engine in the Golf R develops 235 kW of power and 400 Nm of torque. These outputs are 22 kW and 20 Nm compared to the previous model. The R retains its predecessor’s 7-speed dual-clutch transmission, though Volkswagen says new “shift-by-wire” technology and improved software have improved the gearbox’s response. Those who love can change gear themselves using the new large paddles mounted on the steering wheel, but most won’t bother as the car intuitively selects the correct gear for maximum traction out of corners. Volkswagen claims the R sprints from 0 to 100 km/h in just 4.8 seconds. The 2.0-liter turbo is a ready-made unit with a seemingly endless supply of torque, but I would like some more fireworks from the exhaust pipe.
Salon is a bit chic
The Golf’s interior design matches the exterior style; sports cues are thin. Nappa leather seats with blue flecks hug the body, a perforated leather flat-bottom steering wheel, alloy pedals and faux carbon fiber inserts. The digital screen in front of the driver can be customized to suit individual preferences, while ambient lighting brightens the mood after dark.
The asking price is a little rich
The Golf R’s latest update brought upgrades at no extra cost, but this new model is about $10,000 more than its predecessor and costs $65,990 plus travel expenses. That works out to about $73,000 on the road, though some greedy dealers are asking eager customers to shell out up to $90,000 for the low-kilometer versions. It’s a well-equipped car and the safety kit is extensive, but it’s no bargain.
Originally published as 2022 Volkswagen Golf R review