We all know hot hatches are dying. The awesome Ford Focus RS is gone, the Subaru WRX STI hatchback is no more, and there hasn't been a Mazdaspeed3 in ages. Our only hope lies in the new Hyundai Veloster N, the new VW GTI, and the just-revealed all-wheel-drive VW Golf R. That's right. here it is in full view, and it's everything we hoped it would be, both inside and out.
The 2022 Golf R gets pretty much more of everything. More styling, more power, more luxury, and more tech. The great news is that even though the VW Golf won't be sold here anymore, the GTI and the R actually will come to our shores. The R looks better than ever thanks to a more rounded front end and hoodline, slimmer taillights, an aggressive roof spoiler, a rear diffuser, and those beautiful quad round tailpipes. It also gets 19" wheels, subtle black trim pieces, and a unique front piece that lights up in blue when the engine starts. Now, let's take a closer look at what's underneath it all.
From Fast to Really Fast
The current Golf R is a rocket, and the turbo four generates 288 horsepower. That's enough to send the little hatch to 60 mph in 5.2 seconds. Now, take a look at the new Golf R's figures: 315 horsepower and 310 lb-ft of torque (an increase of 27 and 15, respectively). That should put it under the 5-second mark for the 0-60 sprint (VW claims a believable 4.7 seconds). Maximum torque occurs in a broad band from 2,100 all the way to 5,350 rpm. The last one pulled hard, so we can't wait to see how the new one feels.
Perhaps even more important than the power bump is the fact that VW is keeping the awesome sisx-speed manual transmission in the Golf R. How many all-wheel drive cars with a stick shift can you count? Now that the Golf Alltrack and Golf Sportwagen 4Motion have been killed for 2021, we can't actually think of any. Of course, you can still get the Golf R with a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox with paddle shifters, but we prefer to rope our own gears in a car like this. VW didn't kill the manual because apparently, 40% of Golf GTI and Golf R buyers choose the stick. Damn, those are good numbers.
The Golf R's 4Motion system receives an important upgrade in the form of a torque vectoring system that can route power between the two rear wheels when called for. The result is more dynamic and controlled handling that can send up to 100% of the engine's power to the rear outside wheel. That should make hard cornering and high-speed sweepers even better for the R.
The R also gets a variable-ratio steering rack that causes the car to be less reactive in a straight line (providing more high-speed centeredness) and more reactive when the steering angle is sharper. The R also rides lower than the Golf by one inch and has upgraded suspension components to manage body roll and undulations.
Drivers can select driving modes: Comfort, Sport, Race, Special, Drift, and Individual. Expect it to be more than capable thanks to its extensive testing on one of the most challenging tracks in the world, Germany's famous Nürburgring, where it clocked a lap time 17 seconds quicker than the current R.
The Best Golf Interior to Date
If there's one complaint about VWs, it's that their interiors use too much plastic, and some of the bits look and feel cheap. Much of that is addressed in the new Golf R, which receives a total redesign inside, just like the 8th-gen Golf sold in Europe and the Golf GTI coming stateside.
Not only do the materials seem better (less piano black trim), the overall design is much improved. There's now a digital gauge cluster, a large infotainment screen, and an expansive dash. The gauge cluster provides key information such as navigation, turbo boost, power and torque output, and torque distribution between the wheels. The seats are also bigger and sportier with contrast blue stitching and the R logo on the upper seatbacks. The look befits the new R really well, and we're excited to see the changes that make the interior commensurate with the R's price.
Standard equipment on the R includes a sliding glass sunroof, 30-color ambient lighting, touch-sensitive surfaces on the steering wheel, leather-upholstered sport seats for the front passengers, and metal sport pedals. The first colors will include the iconic Lapiz Blue Metallic, Pure White, and Deep Black Pearl Effect. More hues may be introduced at a later date.
Pricing has not yet been released, but we expect it will be north of the $40,395 asking price for the current model. The sad part is that we have to wait until the end of 2021 for it to arrive in America as a 2022 model. We're guessing it will be worth the wait, and we're thrilled this special hot hatch survives as more boring crossovers come our way.