The verdict: The redesigned 2022 Volkswagen Golf R hatchback is a refined, entertaining and versatile performance car. Its well-roundedness doesn’t come cheap, however, and some shoppers might not appreciate VW’s newfound love of touch-sensitive controls.
Versus the competition: Competitors like the Honda Civic Type R, Hyundai Veloster N and Subaru WRX STI have racier styling, but none offer the blend of refinement and performance you get with the Golf R.
Last offered in the U.S. for the 2019 model year, the 2022 Golf R is based on the redesigned, eighth-generation Golf platform, which also underpins the 2022 Golf GTI. The regular Golf hatchback is no longer offered in the U.S.
While the Golf R and Golf GTI share a platform, there are some significant differences between them. The Golf R has standard all-wheel drive, while the Golf GTI is front-drive only. Also, the Golf R’s 315-horsepower, turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine makes 74 hp more than the Golf GTI’s turbo 2.0-liter four-cylinder. For more details, check out a side-by-side specs comparison of the two hatchbacks.
The Golf R is offered in one well-equipped trim level with a standard six-speed manual transmission; the lone option is a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic, which costs $800. Our test car had the manual, and its as-tested price was $44,640 (including a $995 destination charge). In consideration of our December test drive, the car’s standard summer performance tires had been swapped for Pirelli Sottozero 3 winter tires.
Great to Drive
Everything about the Golf R driving experience is light and slick. It steers with a light touch, the clutch pedal depresses easily, and the shifter flicks easily between gears whether you’re shifting up or down. The shifter is on the taller side for a performance car, but it works well nonetheless.