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First Look: 2022 Volkswagen Golf GTI and Golf R

Volkswagen has revealed the long-awaited performance versions of its redesigned Golf compact hatchback.

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A redesigned, 8th-generation Golf is coming for the 2022 model year, and with it, a change in marketing strategy. Canadians can no longer get anything but high-performance Golfs. While the all-new $26,695 (all prices in Canadian dollars) 2022 Volkswagen Taos sub-compact SUV theoretically replaces the base Golf models as the most affordable new VW hatchback in Canada, the German automaker debuted the two Golf models it will sell in Canada for the 2022 model year: the Golf GTI and Golf R.
 
“The previous Golf GTI and Golf R models were widely regarded as the best hot hatches you could buy, but the Mark 8 versions up the ante,” said Hein Schafer, Senior Vice President, Product Marketing and Strategy, Volkswagen of America. “Now built in Wolfsburg [Germany], the cars have more performance, better handling, more standard equipment and improved tech features, yet minimal price increases.”

 

What’s new?

Similar to the new Volkswagen Golf that is already on sale as a compact 4-door hatchback and station wagon in other markets, the new 2022 Golf GTI and Golf R wear a more sharply raked hood, new, narrower LED headlights, and a light bar in the grille framing the VW logo compared to the outgoing models that arrived in Canada for the 2015 model year. 

The Golf GTI used to be a high-performance edition of a less-expensive car. But while a base, 2021 Golf starts with a $22,995 Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP), the base 2022 GTI, starting at $31,495, will be the most affordable new Golf that Canadians can buy.

Inside, the 2022 GTI and R share the regular Mark 8 Golf’s entirely new cockpit design that’s focused on digital and touchscreen interfaces. The 10.25-inch Digital Cockpit Pro is standard, allowing drivers to create a customized display of pertinent primary information, including car status, driving data, phone information, album art, driver assistance features and more. Models equipped with the Discover Pro infotainment system with navigation can display a full-screen map in the digital cluster and simultaneously on the 10-inch center display.

It’s the new 2022 Golf R, though, that has a reputation to uphold.

For starters, it's all-wheel-drive. Rear-axle torque vectoring can send 100% of the power to either rear wheel. That's a massive change at this price point. It should let the Golf R corner more aggressively than any compact car outside the luxury classes and most compact vehicles. 

Many performance cars offer adjustable suspensions, but VW has taken that idea to an extreme. If the 15 (15!)  settings aren't enough for you, you can page your way into a customization menu that lets you adjust the damping to the driver's preferences with a slider.

Inside, the Golf R features Nappa leather upholstery in black with cool ice blue accent panels and piping. Ambient lighting mirrors the colour. The colour carries over to the outside with blue brake callipers and puddle lights.

 

What’s the same?

Fundamentally, the high-performance versions of the Golf remain as practical, 5-passenger compact hatchbacks that can be driven daily. And, as before, the heart of both the new 2022 Volkswagen Golf GTI and Golf R is a 2.0-litre turbocharged inline 4-cylinder gas engine. A six-speed manual or a 7-speed dual-clutch automatic are the two transmission choices available across all trim levels in both the GTI and the R.

For 2022, the GTI produces 241 horsepower—up 13 from the 2021 version—and 273 pound-feet of torque (achieved with premium fuel). The Golf R now makes 315 horsepower—27 more than the previous generation—and 295 pound-feet of torque with automatic transmission, or 280 with the manual. Both models have an electronically limited top track speed of 155 miles per hour (241 kilometres per hour).

 

When will it go on sale?

Volkswagen Canada expects the new 2022 Golf GTI and Golf R to arrive at dealerships in late-2021. However, both high-performance Golfs are available to build and price at the Volkswagen Canada website.

 

How much will it cost?

As mentioned above, the MSRP for the new 2022 Volkswagen GTI with the manual gearbox starts at $31,495. The automatic version adds $1,400. The mid-line Autobahn trim starts at $34,995 for the manual and $36,395 for the auto box. The top-line Performance trim prices begin at $38,995 for the manual and $40,395 for the auto. 

The 2022 Golf R comes in one trim level only; $44,995 for the manual and $46,395 for the auto version.

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