Watch the 2022 Volkswagen Golf R Shred Through Snow

While the standard Golf has been discontinued in the US, Volkswagen hasn’t left its hatchback buyers high and dry. In addition to the upcoming Mk8 GTI, we’re also getting the next-gen Volkswagen Golf R. And while the ongoing pandemic has made reviewing cars trickier, YouTube team The Straight Pipes still wanted to witness the Golf R’s capabilities. So, VW brought the hot hatch to them virtually, along with some fresh powder.

The 2022 Volkswagen Golf R is bringing more than extra power and a stick

A blue 2022 Volkswagen Golf R
2022 Volkswagen Golf R side 3/4 | Volkswagen

While the new Volkswagen Golf R is badged as a 2021 model in Europe, it won’t come to the US until the 2022 model year. Which, given the hot hatch’s specs, will likely seem too long for some of its fans.

As with the previous-gen model, the 2022 Volkswagen Golf R has a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine. However, instead of 288 hp and 280 lb-ft, it now makes 315 hp and 310 lb-ft. And, as before, the 2022 Golf R comes standard with AWD.

The black-leather driver's seat and dashboard of the 2022 Volkswagen Golf R
2022 Volkswagen Golf R interior | Volkswagen

Plus, although North American buyers have to wait a year to buy it, we do get a consolation prize. We’re the only ones getting the option of a six-speed manual, Car and Driver reports. And if you won’t want the stick, the Golf R also offers a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic. The latter also comes with an “auxiliary oil cooler,” Autocar reports.

And if you’re after straight-line acceleration, the automatic is the transmission of choice. Volkswagen claims the automatic 2022 Golf R goes 0-60 mph in 4.7 seconds, Autoweek reports. However, Car and Driver recorded a 4.5-second time with the previous R, so VW’s numbers might be a bit conservative. Indeed, at least one 2022 Golf R tester has (legally) seen a 4.5-second 0-62 mph time on a public road, Motor1 reports.

The rear 3/4 view of a blue 2022 Volkswagen Golf R on an airstrip
2022 Volkswagen Golf R rear 3/4 | Volkswagen

More power, though, isn’t the only thing the new Golf R offers. For 2022 the hot hatch’s AWD system gets active rear-axle torque vectoring, Road & Track reports. Plus, compared to the standard Golf, the R has larger front brakes, a lower ride height, and standard adaptive dampers, Car and Driver reports. VW even re-tuned and lightened the suspension, Automobile reports.

And then there’s Drift Mode.

It’s an AWD hot hatch that can still drift through the snow

Overseas, Drift Mode is part of the 2022 Volkswagen Golf R’s optional Performance Pack, Top Gear reports. However, based on Volkswagen’s press release, it seems the US model gets it as standard. So, in addition to the larger wheels and two-part rear spoiler, we get extra driving modes. Namely, Drift and Special.

All of the 2022 Golf R’s driving modes tweak the hot hatch’s powertrain, AWD, exhaust, suspension, stability control, and traction control settings. Special Mode reportedly makes the 2022 model 17 seconds faster around the Nürburgring than the outgoing model. And Drift Mode partially disables the stability control to make sliding easier.

But, has all of this worked? Although The Straight Pipes hosts couldn’t test the car themselves, they did have a proxy: professional race car driver Benny Leuchter. And to paraphrase, the Mk8 Volkswagen Golf R has removed the compromises of the Mk7 car.

Instead of having to choose between a hardcore variant for track use and something softer for the road, the new model can do both. Leuchter says the Mk8 R is only two seconds behind the record-setting GTI Clubsport S. And even with the hot hatch out of Drift Mode, Leuchter was able to slide it around on the snowy course without issue. Plus, the interior, with its well-bolstered leather seats and capacitive switches, is refined enough for daily-driving, Car and Driver reports.

Will the 2022 Volkswagen Golf R be worth the money?

Admittedly, the true test of the 2022 Volkswagen Golf R will come when it finally arrives here in Q3 2021. But The Straight Pipes aren’t the only ones discovering the hot hatch’s bandwidth. Both Carwow and Top Gear echo similar sentiments, with the former calling it “the good-at-everything kid.”

As far as cost, Volkswagen hasn’t released official 2022 Golf R pricing yet. But Car and Driver and MotorTrend estimate it will cost around $40,000-$45,000.

A gray 2020 Honda Civic Type R parked on the street by some shops
2020 Honda Civic Type R | Matthew Skwarczek

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In comparison, the 2021 Honda Civic Type R starts at $37,985. And while its looks aren’t as subtle as the R’s, nor does it have AWD, it is a genuinely quick and captivating hot hatch. However, for day-to-day refinement, Car and Driver gives the nod to the Golf R over the Type R and the Subaru WRX STI.

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