The all-new, eighth-generation Volkswagen Golf came into being in late 2019. It builds upon the incredible reputation of the Golf, which has been one of the best-selling cars in the whole world. Now, ‘Das Auto’ has dropped the curtain on the latest avatar of the R. If you haven’t heard of the R, it is that one letter in the whole alphabet that warms the cockles of every hot-hatch lover’s heart. In this case, the angry R of the Mk 8 (Mark VIII) version of the VW Golf is the most powerful it has ever been. Riding on the same MQB platform as the standard Golf, this new Golf R is globally available in a spicy three-door and more pragmatic five-door versions.
Looking at it, the 2022 Volkswagen Golf R looks like it isn’t pleased about something. Well, that could be because its exterior styling is a bit of a hit & miss. Unlike previous Golf models, this new one isn’t that particularly sharp or subtle in its appearance. In its feisty R form, the Mk 8 Golf is blessed with a few sporty bits that elevate its status over a regular Golf. Up front, you will see a rigorously styled fascia that now gets a large air dam, a horn-like lower apron, and a continuous strip of LED that connects the two massive headlamps. Still, this front-end isn’t as sporty or exciting as one would have liked it to be. While it still possesses an angry expression, I still believe this face comes across as a bit too soft for a hot hatch.
The side profile here is typical VW Golf. That said, the R does get some special sporty touches. The exuberance here comes from a lowered suspension, multi-spoke 19-inch alloy rims dominated by blue brake calipers with an ‘R’ logo, aggressive side skirts, and an ‘R’ badge above the front fenders. At the rear, this new Golf R has a massive roof-mounted spoiler, full-LED tail lamps, an ‘R’ badge beneath the VW badge, and an updated bumper. The latter also integrates a quad-exhaust, chrome-tipped tailpipe setup, and an air diffuser kit. While this latest Golf R has the right stuff bolted onto it, it could have looked much more intimidating and svelte.
Inside, the 2022 Volkswagen Golf R is thoroughly German and 100 percent modern. It gets an ‘R’ flat-bottom steering wheel, paddle shifters (though they are plastic), blue stitching all over the place, and faux carbon-fiber trim as well. Unfortunately, there is quite a bit of piano black trim in here as well – it collects loads of fingerprints and dust. The tiny gear selector isn’t sporty at all (design-wise) and looks a bit weird if you ask me. Having said that, this cockpit does seem sporty in the way that it puts the driver in the center of all the action. You have the two large, high-definition screens that inform you of all the stuff that is going on. You might have to go through the user’s manual, even though the system is easy to operate and pretty straight-forward.
The bolstered ‘R’ seats hold you in place pretty well and manage to look pretty dope. Even more so when you take into account their embroidered blue ‘R’ logo and side piping. VW has also gone to the length of installing blue LED lights on the inside to remind you about this hot hatch’s blue theme. Actually, these LEDs are capable of lighting up this interior in up to 30 different colors.
Moreover, thanks to its adaptive dampers and excellent insulation, the all-new Golf R’s passenger space remains absolutely civil. Of course, that is up until you go all cray-cray and go full R. Surprisingly, even then, this cabin doesn’t get as raucous or throaty as you might imagine. Still, it is quite a place to experience. Finally, build quality and fit-and-finish is just fantastic.
Getting to the tasty bit… Volkswagen has stuffed its 2.0-liter TSI four-cylinder motor with 315hp and 420Nm of turbo-fed torque inside this Golf R. Depending on your preference, the 2022 Golf R can be equipped with either a 6-speed manual gearbox or VW’s snappy 7-speed DSG dual-clutch automatic.
The latest R comes with an updated version of the Mk 8 Golf’s standard 4Motion all-wheel-drive system to enable better traction and improve performance. The system features a trick torque-vectoring logic (plus electronic differential locks) that is fully capable of transferring 100 percent of the engine’s grunt to either one of the rear wheels when it detects slippage. Moreover, the variable-steering system has been tweaked to work on the road and also when you are pummeling it on the track. Apart from the lowering of the suspension, VW has also gone about stiffening it up and beefing-up the anti-roll bars.
Also, if I forgot to mention… This VW Golf R features a ‘Drift’ mode for the enthusiast in you. Basically, if you turn this mode on, the seemingly well-tamed Golf R goes (almost) berserk and lets you bring the hooligan profile in you out. Overall, while Volkswagen is still to release more performance specs of the 2022 Golf R, rest assured, it is the most powerful R model ever.
Oh, it also lapped the Nurburgring in just 7 minutes and 51 seconds. What does that mean? Well, the predecessor of this Golf R did the same in 8 minutes and 10 seconds. It also recorded a 0 to 100 kmph sprint time of 4.7 seconds – making this the quickest Golf ever. More important than any of this, the 2022 Volkswagen Golf R will make you grin from ear to ear.