Auto123 reviews the 2022 Volkswagen Golf R.
They say brushes with death have a unique way of focusing the mind on what’s important. Namely, enjoying the here and now, while you can. Already the Golf R was a car very, very easy to enjoy, but the real possibility that this could be the last generation for the little guy gives some added urgency to undertaking that enjoyment. And so we did.
We know of course that the current generation of the Golf is not available here in North America in regular form. Which was a first sign, perhaps, that the future of the Golf was no longer so bright it required shades. Another sign was the introduction into the European market of the little ID.3 electric car, a rough equivalent of the Golf but with no ICE engine to send out dirty emissions and run the car afoul of ever-tightening EU standards and requirements.
In any event, in the here and now, we do have the Golf R and Golf GTi sportier variants. We recently drove the first of those over a more extended period of time than we’d had with the two variants back early in the year. Also with ideal road conditions, unlike our winter test drive of the R.
When it comes to the offering, things couldn’t be simpler for the 2022 R: there’s but one variant, carrying an MSRP of $44,995, and but one option, the panoramic sunroof, carrying a price tag of $1,250. Ok, there’s a bit more to know, because the base price brings with it a manual gearbox, while the DSG auto transmission takes the price of entry to $46,395. And, there are three colour choices for the exterior. AWD is standard. Simple.
In terms of performance, the Golf R’s powertrain delivers 315 hp and 280 lb-ft of torque (manual) or 295 lb-ft (DSG transmission). There are six different drive modes (Comfort, Sport, Race, Special, Drift and Custom) to tailor that output to your needs/preferences of any given moment.
There’s good and bad here. The Golf R’s seating is firm but enveloping and looks good as well, what with our tester’s blue upholstery bits, and physical layout is focused on the driver, as it should be in a car like this. The steering wheel is a dream to hold and manipulate, and your sightline out the back is excellent. The hatch opening reveals a modest-sized but quite practical cargo space that can be enlarged significantly by putting the rear seats down.
The bad? Involves the model’s new infotainment system. The screen itself (10-inch diagonally) is decent enough in terms of graphics and response time, but VW simply stripped out too many of the physical buttons and hid commands either in the on-screen menus or on touch commands that provide no finger feedback and, worse, aren’t lit up when you’re driving at night. Which means, good luck mastering things like the climate control commands or the audio volume while keeping your attention fully on the road.
Beyond that, there are numerous ways to personalize the data screen in front of the driver, which is fun, especially in Sport mode which awakens all sorts of neat graphics. There’s wireless Apple CarPlay and Androit Auto connectivity, the head-up display and a wireless smartphone charging pad are included standard and you can make your car do a bunch of things with sound and lights via your smartphone with an app.