2022 Volkswagen Golf GTI

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Key specs

Base trim shown


Body style


Combined MPG


Seating capacity

168.8” x 57.6”


Front-wheel drive



3 trims

Starting msrp listed lowest to highest price

Wondering which trim is right for you?

Our 2022 Volkswagen Golf GTI trim comparison will help you decide.

See also: Find the best Hatchbacks for 2024

2022 Volkswagen Golf GTI review: Our expert's take

By Kelsey Mays

For a nameplate with as many as six members on sale in the U.S., Volkswagen’s Golf family has jettisoned most of its stateside offerings. The hatchback’s eighth-generation redesign is now on sale in broad form overseas, but Americans will see just two examples: the Golf GTI and Golf R, both offered as four-door hatchbacks for the 2022 model year. Both employ VW’s EA888 turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder, good for 241 horsepower and 273 pounds-feet of torque in the GTI or 315 hp and 295 pounds-feet in the R.

Related: Up Close With the 2022 Volkswagen Golf GTI and Golf R: Getting Back in the Race

We took an in-person look at the redesigned hatchbacks earlier this year at the 2021 Chicago Auto Show. But last month at an event for the North American Car, Truck and Utility of the Year awards, Cars.com Executive Editor Joe Wiesenfelder and I sampled a stick-shift Golf GTI and automatic Golf R on public roads in southeast Michigan. (Wiesenfelder and I are jurors on NACTOY, as it’s called.) Note, the Golf R was a U.S. vehicle but the GTI was a European specification, so minor tweaks may apply to the version that hits your local dealership.

We’ll reserve full judgement for when we get the pair back to Cars.com HQ, but our early take is the GTI and R remain fun to drive fast, with new rear-axle torque vectoring paying dividends for the R’s dynamics. If any models can justify Volkswagen’s move to aggravating touch-sensitive controls, it’s performers like these — but even then, those controls are dismal enough to question how much that performance matters.

volkswagen golf gti 2022 05 center stack display compact dashboard front row interior steering wheel jpg 2022 Volkswagen Golf GTI (European spec) | Cars.com photo by Kelsey Mays

Quick or Quicker

Manual transmissions are dying in part because few good ones remain. I’m not sure Volkswagen’s unit qualifies as an exception: It’s good but not great. Accelerator response is instantaneous regardless of drivetrain mode — those modes (Eco, Comfort and Sport) seem to impact throttle progression more than response — but the shifter’s a bit clumsy, with medium throws and poorly defined gates. I drove a stick-shift 2022 Honda Civic Hatchback soon after the GTI, and Honda’s unit has far crisper (if a little notchy) operation.

I’m noticing more turbo lag these days, likely painted in stark relief by the immediate surge from the EVs we increasingly test. It’s alive and well here: The GTI has mild power starting out, but the engine pulls hard as rpm climbs and the turbocharger spins up. It’s plenty strong overall, and the Golf R is quicker still — downright explosive by the time you get past 4,000 rpm or so. The R’s seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission hesitates to downshift if you need more power while already in motion, but enough accelerator pedal can induce it after moderate delay. (We didn’t test the GTI with the dual-clutch or the R with the manual, though Volkswagen offers both.)

volkswagen golf r 2022 11 compact drivers seat front passenger seat front row interior jpg 2022 Volkswagen Golf R | Cars.com photo by Kelsey Mays

Improved AWD in Golf R

The Golf R features terrific, quick-ratio steering; Volkswagen told us it shares the same ratio with that of the GTI, but the latter setup feels a little less engaging — a possible impact of tire selection or steering assist, among other factors. More differentiating is dynamics: Equipped with high-performance summer tires, both the GTI and R we drove held off understeer until late, but the R’s standard all-wheel drive let you iron it out (rather controllably, too) with extra mid-corner throttle. Both cars feel at home attacking hard curves, but the R adds gratifying neutrality as you work your way through them. Credit its AWD, which adds rear-axle torque vectoring for 2022. It’s an improvement versus the outgoing Golf R, whose AWD couldn’t shake the push.

Ride quality is similar in both cars; it’s busy but livable, with just enough impact absorption as the dampers near full compression to avoid feeling too choppy. Adaptive dampers (which is to say, shock absorbers) are optional in the GTI and standard in the R.

volkswagen golf gti 2022 06 compact controls interior steering wheel jpg 2022 Volkswagen Golf GTI (European spec) | Cars.com photo by Kelsey Mays

Worth the Trouble?

As we hinted at the beginning, the elephant in the room for the GTI and R has nothing to do with how they drive. Volkswagen’s move to touch-sensitive controls has turned cars like the refreshed Tiguan SUV and all-electric ID.4 into complicated, unsatisfactory user experiences. And so it goes with the new Golf, whose climate, audio and steering-wheel controls rely mostly on touch panels instead of physical controls. (We aren’t the only ones aggravated by this. Leading consumer surveys indicate owners also dislike touch-sensitive controls.) If any cars justify ignoring the interface, it’s performance hatchbacks like these. But that’s a big if — especially for the GTI, given Volkswagen’s updated Jetta GLI sedan pairs similar power with more traditional controls.

The 2022 Golf GTI and Golf R hit dealerships later this year; pricing with destination starts at $30,540 for the GTI and $44,640 for the R.

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Editor’s note: This story was updated on Nov. 2, 2021, to clarify that adaptive shock absorbers are available in the 2022 Golf GTI and R.

Cars.com’s Editorial department is your source for automotive news and reviews. In line with Cars.com’s long-standing ethics policy, editors and reviewers don’t accept gifts or free trips from automakers. The Editorial department is independent of Cars.com’s advertising, sales and sponsored content departments.

Photo of Kelsey Mays
Former Assistant Managing Editor-News Kelsey Mays likes quality, reliability, safety and practicality. But he also likes a fair price. Email Kelsey Mays

Consumer reviews

Rating breakdown (out of 5):
  • Comfort 4.5
  • Interior 3.0
  • Performance 5.0
  • Value 3.5
  • Exterior 5.0
  • Reliability 4.0
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Most recent consumer reviews


Too expensive for fun

Worst touch screen i ever used and other digital options. Car has great performance but always had problems with elecktronic system and wait for the service to be fixed The value of the car reduced rapidly after i bought it i lost too much if you compare with other brands Finally i dont recomend this car


One Fantastic Ride - Only One Flaw

Overall, this is one of the best cars I have ever owned. This car hugs the road while providing the opportunity to be a real daily driver. Fast, refined, and full of options which accommodate any driving style. If I have one complaint, it is - yes the same as so many others - the infotainment system. The base model gives you a better feel and option for using actual knobs for some of the specifics, which I find somewhat ironic. If you can manage to get past the infotainment system, you’ll love this car.

See all 2 consumer reviews


New car and Certified Pre-Owned programs by Volkswagen
New car program benefits
48 months/50,000 miles
84 months/100,000 miles
48 months/50,000 miles
24 months/20,000 miles
Roadside assistance
36 months/36,000 miles
Certified Pre-Owned program benefits
Maximum age/mileage
MY 2016-MY 2017 vehicles/75,000 miles; MY 2018- MY 2019 vehicles/72,000 miles; MY 2020 and newer vehicles/75,000 miles
Basic warranty terms
Vehicles purchased on or after 1/5/21: MY 2017 & older, 2 yrs/24,000 miles (whichever is 1st) limited warranty; MY 2018-19, 1 yr/12,000 miles (whichever is 1st) limited warranty; MY 2020 & newer, 2 years/24,000 miles (whichever is 1st) limited warranty
Dealer certification required
100-plus point inspection
Roadside assistance
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