The 2022 Volkswagen Golf R sits on the left of the 2022 Volkswagen Golf GTI.

Keeping driving fun alive in the 2022 Volkswagen Golf GTI and Golf R

September 14, 2021 

Over seven generations and almost 40 years, the Volkswagen Golf GTI has defined what a hot hatchback should be. The Volkswagen Golf R has become a performance standard of its own, offering all-wheel-drive grip and refined power. This year, the eighth generation of both legends arrive in the United States to keep the spirit of driving fun alive.

The all-new versions of both vehicles offer more standard power, more standard technology and sharper style than before, while preserving their affordability – and available manual transmissions.

“The previous Golf GTI and Golf R models were widely regarded as the two of the best hot hatches you could buy, but the Mark 8 versions up the ante,” said Hein Schafer, Senior Vice President, Product Marketing and Strategy, Volkswagen of America. “This duo has more performance, better handling, more standard equipment and improved tech features, yet minimal price increases.”


Image shows the 2022 Volkswagen Golf GTI from front three-quarter angle.


The heart of both models lies in the EA888 2.0-liter turbocharged and direct-injection TSI® engine, with both reaching new highs in power output. Either model is offered with a six-speed manual or seven-speed DSG dual-clutch automatic. The GTI produces 241 horsepower—up 13 from the Mk7—and 273 lb-ft of torque with regular octane fuel, while the Golf R now makes 315 horsepower—27 more than the previous generation—and 295 lb-ft of torque with the DSG transmission, or 280 lb-ft with the manual, using premium fuel.

Between the engine and the road lives a newly developed and sophisticated set of suspension controls that blend the electronic stability control (ESC) with the electronic differential lock (XDS®) and the optional DCC® adaptive damping system. In the GTI, the standard VAQ electronically controlled torque-sensing limited-slip differential gives the system an intelligent edge to cut understeer and provide the sharpest handling in fast corners.

For the Golf R, Volkswagen engineers designed a new 4Motion® all-wheel-drive system with rear-axle torque vectoring, which can distribute up to 100 percent of the rear torque to an individual rear wheel. In a typical corner, the system can sense which wheel needs more or less power, inside or outside the curve, and redirect the flow in a matter of milliseconds. The Golf R also includes new driving modes including a track-tuned “Special” setting and a “Drift” mode for track-only excitement.

Here’s Volkswagen R brand ambassador Tanner Foust demonstrating the potential of both vehicles:

Both models benefit from the updates to the eighth-generation Golf family with all-new bodywork and design details inside and out. The new light signature of the GTI comes from distinctive X-shaped foglights and an available light bar that flanks the VW logo in the grille, and for the first time in North America, available 19-inch alloy wheels. Golf R models feature a blue grille line and brake calipers, a new wheel design, and several other distinct touches, from more aggressive front and rear bumpers and diffusers to a quad-tipped exhaust system and a larger rear spoiler.

2022 Volkswagen Golf GTI and Golf R

The 2022 Volkswagen Golf GTI Autobahn in Pomelo Yellow from a front three-quarter view.

Inside, the 2022 Golf GTI and Golf R feature a standard 10.25-inch Digital Cockpit Pro, along with touch panels that control the lighting, defrost, HVAC and audio functions, as well as operation of the available sunroof. An available head-up display digitally projects key driving information onto the windshield, virtually floating in front of the driver. And of course, the GTI keeps the golf-ball style shifter on the manual transmission and a new “Scalepaper” tartan plaid pattern for the standard fabric seats. And both the Golf GTI and Golf R have IQ.DRIVE driver assistance technology standard, such as Front Assist (forward collision warning and Autonomous Emergency Braking with pedestrian and cyclist monitoring) and Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC).

Keeping the Mk 8 Golf GTI within reach of enthusiasts was a key goal of the new generation, with the manual GTI starting at a MSRP of $29,545 before destination. For 2022, the GTI comes in three trim levels – S, SE and Autobahn – with two optional packages at the SE level. The Autobahn package can be had with a limited-edition launch color of Pomelo Yellow Metallic, along with regular GTI colors Oryx White Pearl, Moonstone Gray, Kings Red Metallic, Atlantic Blue Metallic, Reflex Silver Metallic, and Deep Black Pearl.

The Golf R has one comprehensive trim, either as manual or automatic, with a starting MSRP $43,645 before destination for the manual and $44,445 for the DSG, in signature Lapiz Blue Metallic, as well as Pure White and Deep Black Pearl.