Pros: Powerful engine; effective all-wheel-drive system; available manual transmission; hatchback practicality
Cons: Prices are a bit steep; interior controls are mostly touch-sensitive “virtual” controls instead of actual buttons and switches
CG Says: Volkswagen brings back the high-performance R version of its Golf compact hatchback in redesigned form for 2022, with more power and race-inspired features. The Golf R had been on hiatus since the 2019 model year. Volkswagen has discontinued the regular Golf models in the U.S., leaving only the R and sporty GTI versions available here. The Golf GTI is covered in a separate review.
The Golf R is sold in just one well-equipped version, with the only substantial choice being automatic or manual transmission. The sole engine is a turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder that makes 315 horsepower—27 hp more than the previous Golf R’s powerplant. This engine pairs with either a 6-speed manual or a 7-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. As before, all Rs have all-wheel drive. For 2022, the drive-mode system includes a “drift mode” that adjusts the AWD and stability-control settings to enable rear-wheel-drive driving dynamics.
The interior is equipped with a 10.2-inch configurable digital gauge cluster and several capacitive touch-sensitive controls in place of physical buttons and switches—an arrangement not all drivers are fond of. Leather upholstery, a 10-inch infotainment touchscreen, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto connectivity, and Wi-Fi are all standard features. Also standard are a number of safety-tech features, including adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping assist, and blind-spot monitoring.
With copious power, terrific handling, and a highly effective all-wheel-drive system, the 2022 Volkswagen Golf R is well suited for drivers who want thrilling performance in a small hatchback package. Also a plus is the Type R’s sophisticated, upscale feel, which helps it stand out from other high-performance mainstream-brand compact cars. That said, there is no “budget” version, and the R’s sticker prices nudge into premium-brand territory, pitting it against some similarly exciting cars that have tonier nameplates. Given that fact, the Golf R will probably find its strongest audience among those who are already sold on Volkswagen’s unique flavor of high performance.
|Body Style(s)||4-door hatchback|
|Drive Wheels||all-wheel drive|
|Nation of Manufacture||Germany|
|Base Prices||Base: $44,640|
turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder
7-speed automated manual
|EPA City Range (mpg)
|EPA Hwy Range (mpg)