The Golf R is mighty offended from nearly each angle.

Andrew Krok/Roadshow

We must always depend our fortunate stars that Volkswagen even determined to deliver the eighth-generation Golf to the US. After decimating the reasonably priced German automotive’s lineup for 2022, solely two variants stay destined for our amber waves of grain: The hopped-up GTI and the even-hoppier Golf R. The earlier Golf R was enjoyable, however it did not really feel prefer it was actually its personal automotive. That is modified within the mannequin’s newest era, the place this scorching hatch has lastly come into its personal.

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Aggressive styleAggressive powertrainAggressive all the things, actually

Do not Like

Dumb cup holdersOccasionally dumb telematics

Blue plaid? Do not thoughts if I do

If you happen to’ve by no means observed, VW’s efficiency hatchbacks are color-coded, with the GTI leaning closely on purple and the Golf R counting on blue. That visible differentiation is a little more apparent this time round, thanks largely to a bright-blue strip that spans the width of the entrance finish, which nonetheless has a little bit of the ol’ sloping-brow look because of the brand new fascia. There are lots extra visible variations that set the GTI and Golf R additional other than each other, just like the Golf R’s extra aggressive bumpers, 19-inch alloy wheels and the not-so-large-I would-call-it-obscene rear wing. Mix that each one and you’ve got a Golf R that lastly has some visible bark to match its chunk. The brand new look is sort of visually aggressive, though it is price mentioning that the wheels and wing on my take a look at automotive are a part of an Efficiency Package deal, so that you could possibly skip ’em in case you desire. (The early take a look at automotive proven right here is definitely a European-spec mannequin, and it is unclear presently if VW will provide this gear as an possibility or if the corporate will simply bundle each US-spec automotive with it.)

The inside has a number of key variations, however it’s largely the identical expertise you get in lesser Golf variants. R-specific touches embody a great deal of blue distinction stitching, completely different dashboard trim and a very good pair of sporty entrance seats with built-in headrests and bitchin’ blue plaid inserts. The seats themselves aren’t so tight as to alienate elements of the American market, however they’re nonetheless supportive in the correct methods when the driving will get spirited.

In any other case, the cabin is simply as pleasant and practical as it’s on the GTI. The door pockets are carpeted in your pleasure and can maintain loads of junk, as will the glove compartment, however the middle armrest’s cubby stays too compact for, say, a handbag. There is a particular place forward of the shifter in your cellphone, which you’ll be able to shut into its dock for optimum distraction avoidance. The trunk will maintain lots for a automotive of this dimension, too, with about 13.5 cubic ft of storage on provide. The one actual usability bummer is the cup holder, which tries to be intelligent with shifting elements, however typically finally ends up incapable of doing its job, particularly in case you deign to have two drinks up entrance without delay.

At all times hustlin’

The earlier Golf R’s efficiency all the time felt OK, however by no means nice, prefer it was a GTI that had gone to a tuner for some extra pep in its step. That adjustments with this 2022 mannequin. The honkin’ tailpipes out again give greater than a delicate trace that there is one thing stable below the hood, which on this case is a 2.0-liter turbocharged I4 placing out 315 horsepower and 310 pound-feet of torque.

For these protecting monitor at house, that is 27 hp and 30 lb-ft increased than its predecessor, and boy, howdy is that bump instantly noticeable. No matter drive mode, the engine and its seven-speed dual-clutch automated push me alongside on a wave of low-end torque, seemingly by no means needing to eclipse 3,000 rpm to get me as much as no matter pace I would like. However when the time is correct, the engine will hustle at increased revs, screaming its four-pot tune to the skin world. Shifts in each instructions are lightning fast and devoid of clunks or different unfavourable attributes. All of it simply works.

Each 2022 Golf R comes with adaptive dampers and steering, so automobile drive settings ought to really feel the identical throughout all examples. Consolation mode does an honest job in day by day use, with loads of out there energy underfoot paired with a suspension that soaks up some, however not all highway nastiness — in any case, the alloys are large and the 235/35R19 Pirelli P-Zero summer time tires are skinny. Sport companies all the things up, and it is my desire for spirited driving — VW’s, too, as this setting is the default mode when beginning the automotive. Race is a bit too, um, racy for many American backroads and is probably going greatest reserved for monitor days. However regardless of the underlying modes, the Golf R appears like a distinctly distinctive mannequin this time round, providing full-assed efficiency that feels a complete tier above the GTI.

The beforehand talked about non-obligatory Efficiency Pack additionally provides Nürburgring and Drift modes; the previous units the automotive up particularly to deal with Germany’s legendary Nordschleife racetrack, and Drift eases up on traction management whereas ensuring the rear axle will get as a lot energy as it could. There’s additionally an Particular person mode if, like me, you need most of Sport’s advantages with out the detriment to trip high quality.

Is the brand new Golf R environment friendly? Yeah, I would say so. The EPA has but to launch estimates for this new mannequin, however for context, the earlier one managed 23 mpg metropolis and 30 mpg freeway, which is not unhealthy for a strong AWD scorching hatch. The numbers might development southward given the additional oomph, however powertrain improvement being what it’s, I am certain VW managed to remain fairly near the previous figures. In my time spent not grinning like an fool in switchbacks, I see freeway figures proper round 30.

Just like the previous Golf R, when you slide into the driving force’s seat, all that issues is having enjoyable. And don’t fret, enjoyable will not be exhausting to come back by.

Andrew Krok/Roadshow

Infotainment largely a success, however some misses

Now that I’ve skilled VW’s latest, flashiest infotainment system in two completely different automobiles, I can see previous a few of Uncover Professional’s frippery and expertise its tough edges. Wi-fi Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are onboard, and it is clear that VW understands the development towards smartphone mirroring, as a result of its native infotainment system just about seems to be like CarPlay on its 10-inch show. The {hardware} boots rapidly, but when my fingers are too quick, the system can begin tripping over itself, treating one faucet like two or simply straight-up ignoring my requests till it feels prefer it. These experiences are few and much between, and issues might very effectively change for the higher by the point the primary automobiles arrive in showrooms later this 12 months, however it’s price mentioning. Two USB-C ports up entrance means gadgets cost rapidly, however in case you desire a trickle, a Qi wi-fi pad is correct beneath ’em.

VW Group has been a longtime proponent of digital gauge clusters, and the story stays the identical right here. A ten.3-inch digital cluster gives up a powerful variety of kinds to peruse, altering what info will get your eyes’ precedence. You may view a full-screen map or examine audio choices in larger element, however I desire to go away the readouts in a extra conventional gauge mode. A head-up show additional reduces distraction by beaming automobile pace, pace restrict indicators and extra proper to your peepers.

Volkswagen might have gone a bit overboard on contact functionality, although. The steering-wheel buttons operate as each touchpads and common buttons, which might result in some awkward work on the amount slider. The local weather management is solely digital, which might be irritating, too, because it means swapping by means of menus to vary widespread features like fan pace. Temperature and quantity controls are accessible on sliders beneath the show, however for some purpose, they are not illuminated at night time.

Hopefully, a few of the Golf R’s technological kinks are ironed out earlier than its official US debut.

Andrew Krok/Roadshow

All the way down to brass tacks

So, how a lot will the Golf R price? I do not know. The outgoing Golf R was already a hair over $40,000 when it was discontinued again in 2019, and given the newfound options and energy in its successor, it is seemingly that the price of entry will rise. That is a tall ask for a Volkswagen Golf, even one as spectacular as this. However then once more, a Honda Civic Kind R is sort of $39,000 as of late, and the VW does really feel extra premium, so maybe that is simply what state-of-the-art scorching hatchery prices these days. For a man raised on cheap scorching hatches, that is nonetheless a troublesome capsule to swallow, regardless that this new mannequin will not be confused with a 1.8-liter Golf anymore.

If you happen to do resolve to take a dive into the deep finish, the 2022 Volkswagen Golf R is immensely rewarding. It is a hoot and a half on any highway, straight or curvy, and now greater than ever, it appears like a mannequin that may stand by itself as a real efficiency automobile. 

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