Golf Smarts: 2022 Volkswagen Golf GTI and Golf R Debut at 2021 Chicago Auto Show

The new model year designs for the Volkswagen Golf GTI and Golf R were recently introduced at the 2021 Chicago Auto Show. They’ll be available in the U.S. soon, but the standard Golf no longer will be. Here’s what we’ve learned about the 2022 Volkswagen Golf GTI and Golf R.

The end of the regular Golf, but not the Golf GTI or R

The 2022 Volkswagen Golf R and Golf GTI debut images from the 2021 Chicago Auto Show
The 2022 Volkswagen Golf R and Golf GTI hatchback models | Volkswagen of America, Inc. Newspress Limited

The base model 2021 Volkswagen Golf compact hatchback is no longer being manufactured for sale in the United States, reports Car and Driver. This decision came about because sales of the standard VW Golf have been declining and because more Golf GTIs have sold than Golfs each year since 2014, says Autoweek.​​ The Golf is expected to be available through the end of 2021 when inventory runs out.

The Volkswagen Golf isn’t entirely gone, though, and the higher-trim, performance-oriented Golf GTI and Golf R models will continue to be available. “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.

The 2022 Volkswagen Golf GTI and Golf R

Volkswagen revealed the 2022 Golf GTI and Golf R at the 2021 Chicago Auto Show. The 2022 Golf GTI and Golf R are built on the eighth-generation of the Golf platform, the Mark 8. A 2.0-liter turbo four-cylinder engine powers each model. In the Golf GTI, it produces 241 hp and 273 lb-ft of torque. In the Golf R, it generates 315 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque (or 280 lb-ft with the standard manual transmission). Additionally, they’ll both have an electronically limited top speed of 155 mph.

The Golf GTI and the Golf R come with a six-speed manual transmission or a seven-speed DSG automatic transmission. Additionally, All-wheel drive is standard on the Golf R. The two cars are a bit longer and sportier than previous models, but their wheelbases remain the same length. They have a “sharper hood raking,” says The Truth About Cars, and also sport LED headlights, while a light bar is available for the grille.

According to The Truth About Cars, the 2022 Volkswagen Golf GTI now has “X-shaped fog lamps and new wheel designs, a red grille line, red brake calipers, and dual exhaust tips,” according to The Truth About Cars. Plaid seat upholstery is standard. The Golf GTI also has available “push-button start, rain-sensing wipers, Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, USB ports, keyless entry, leather seats, satellite radio, heated front seats, cooled front seats, heated rear seats, premium audio, tri-zone climate control, and 18- or 19-inch wheels.” The Golf GTI comes standard with an electronically controlled limited-slip differential, while the Golf R comes with rear-axle torque vectoring.

The 2022 Volkswagen Golf R has “a blue grille line and blue brake calipers, a new wheel design, front and rear bumpers, and diffusers that are more aggressive than that of the Golf GTI, a two-piece rear spoiler, body-colored side sill extensions, and a quad-tipped exhaust system,” says The Truth About Cars. The Golf R offers “cross-drilled brake rotors, sunroof, keyless entry and starting, stop/start, heated steering wheel, leather seats, heated and cooled front seats, heated rear seats, tri-zone climate control, rain-sensing wipers, premium audio, navigation, satellite radio, wireless device charging, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto.”

A 10.25-inch digital cockpit is standard inside both models, along with touch interfaces and 30-color ambient lighting. Navigation, a sunroof, and a head-up display are add-on options. Driver-assistance features include semi-autonomous driving, adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning, automated emergency braking with pedestrian and cyclist monitoring, rear traffic alert, blind-spot monitoring, lane-keeping assist, high-beam assist, parking assist, and road-sign display.

Buying a VW Golf GTI or Golf R


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The 2022 Volkswagen Golf GTI has a starting price of $29,545 and will be available in three trim levels. The 2022 Volkswagen Golf R will come in just one trim, described by Volkswagen as “fully-loaded,” and has a starting price of $43,645. Both cars will be available in the fall of 2021.