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A blue 2022 Volkswagen Golf R is shown from the front at an angle while parked on a forest road.

Meeting Your Need for Speed in the 2022 Volkswagen Golf R: A Buyer’s Guide

The recent debut of Top Gun: Maverick has reignited everyone’s interest in the classic film from the 1980s—while simultaneously proving that Tom Cruise will never age. It’s also rekindled popular catchphrases like, “I’ve got the need…the need for speed,” and that’s something Volkswagen knows all too well. While the Volkswagen lineup may never reach Maverick’s standards, it comes incredibly close in the automotive world with models like the 2022 Volkswagen Golf R.

Volkswagen promises the 2022 Golf R will deliver elevated legendary performance, taking the Golf to a new level of power, control, and handling. But the question is whether the Golf R can deliver on this promise. That’s something I’m here to answer with a closer look at what’s under the hood—and everything else the speed-loving hatchback offers.

#1 Speed and Handling

The rally-inspired Golf R32 made headlines with its debut in 2004, proving Volkswagen had plenty to offer in terms of speed. In 2022, that offering takes on an entirely new meaning, with the Golf R’s 2.0-L turbocharged engine delivering more horsepower than its predecessor—when mated to either a six-speed manual or seven-speed automatic transmission. This turbocharged power translates to 315 horses and up to 295 lb-ft of torque, with the rear differential and two multi-plate clutches capable of sending 100% of the rear torque to a single rear wheel for optimal traction and control when cornering. Legendary, indeed.

#2 Hallmark Design and Modern Updates to the Exterior

For 2022, Volkswagen extended the Golf R’s length, creating a sleeker and sportier profile. Its wheelbase still measures 103.5”, but its added length and broader stance give the hatchback a lower center of gravity. These design updates enhance the Golf R’s overall aesthetic and complement the many hallmarks of the model’s past. For example, you’ll find blue-painted brake calipers and the signature C-pillar from previous models—alongside new lighting and wheel designs, a performance spoiler, blue accents in the grille, and a sharply raked hood.

#3 An Interior Designed for Your Comfort

The Golf R’s modern exterior perfectly complements its interior design, where Volkswagen prioritizes your comfort in the driver’s seat. The redesigned interior blends state-of-the-art technology with practical conveniences that guarantee you have everything you need when you’re behind the wheel. For example, the newly designed seats provide optimal comfort, especially with the 12-way power driver’s seat with three memory presets. In addition, Volkswagen finetunes the position of the driver’s seat to the shifter to give you greater comfort and control.

Beyond this positioning, the Golf R’s D-shaped, leather-wrapped steering wheel is ergonomic and reflects the hatchback’s focus on performance. Also impressive is that pushing the Golf R to its limits doesn’t come at the cost of comfort—thanks to heated and ventilated front seats that keep you warm in the winter and cool in the summer. But, of course, Volkswagen doesn’t forget your passengers and ensures their comfort with rear-heated seats and three-zone Climatronic Touch automatic climate control. The final touch is the Golf R’s premium Napa leather upholstery with blue accent stitching that completes the aesthetic and ties the entire design together, mimicking the blue accents in the Golf R’s exterior.

#4 Mood Lighting, Anyone?

One unique feature of the 2022 Golf R is that it comes standard with ambient lighting. The feature washes the Golf R’s interior with color, giving you 30 color options at the touch of a button. Once selected, the system illuminates the cabin from the trim in the dash and doors to the center console, footwells, and storage compartments with color. Even the digital instrument display and infotainment system mirror the selected color, setting the mood for your time behind the wheel.

The interior of a 2022 VW Golf R is shown from the passenger door opening.

#5 State-of-the-Art Cockpit

The 2022 Golf R is loaded with state-of-the-art technology to keep you connected and informed. From the driver’s seat, you can access a fully configurable 10.25” display known as the Volkswagen Digital Cockpit Pro system. The display is slightly tilted toward the driver and gives you three views, 21 viewing options, and full-screen navigation. The navigation system is especially impressive since it displays a full-screen map on the center display and a mirrored image on the digital cluster behind the steering wheel.

Along with the Discover Pro navigation system, the center display gives you access to your smartphone via wireless App-Connect. The feature syncs your smartphone with the Golf R, putting your favorite apps at your fingertips. Additionally, with Amazon Alexa now available on the Golf R, you can access your apps and a host of other features with simple voice commands. It’s like having a virtual assistant with you everywhere you go.

Beyond the center display, the driver’s digital cluster is known as the Digital Cockpit and is exclusive to R models. You can tailor the display to your needs using the View button on the steering wheel. For example, R-View shows the rev counter and two customizable instruments. You can display the tachometer in an analog or digital format and add various data to the screen like relative boost pressure, torque, power, G-meter, torque distribution, a lap timer, and oil temperature.

#6 Remote Access and Convenience

Volkswagen believes in offering drivers the utmost convenience and accomplishes this with innovative tools like Car-Net. The feature lets you interact with the Golf R remotely, using your smartphone to lock and unlock the doors; honk the horn; flash the lights; and monitor the fuel level, mileage, and window and door status. This convenience extends to parking, thanks to Volkswagen’s partnership with Parkopedia. Car-Net’s Parking Information feature helps you locate parking from your smartphone and send the location to the Golf R’s navigation system.

Car-New is also designed to extend the longevity of your Golf R by keeping an eye on its health. You can access Vehicle Health Reports through the app to gain insight into the hatchback’s diagnostics. These reports are generated every month and are great reminders to schedule routine maintenance—like oil changes and tire rotations.

#7 Safe and Secure

Just as the Golf R delivers convenience, it also optimizes your safety and security. The 2022 Golf R is equipped with an array of active and passive safety features, including Electronic Stability Control, a standard rearview camera, and an Anti-Lock Braking System. Additional features include Volkswagen’s Automatic Post-Collision Braking System and Intelligent Crash Response System that minimize the chance of secondary incidents after a collision by applying the brakes, shutting off the fuel pump, unlocking the doors, and turning on the hazards.

Beyond these active safety features, the Golf R also offers plenty of driver-assist tools to enhance your time on the road. IQ.DRIVE is the perfect example of this as a semi-autonomous hands-on driving tool that transforms your time on the highway. By using front and rear radars, cameras, and sensors, IQ.DRIVE works with Travel Assist, Lane Assist, Front Assist, Active Side Assist, Adaptive Cruise Control Stop and Go, Rear Traffic Alert, and Emergency Assist to keep the Golf R centered in its lane and traveling at a safe speed based on the flow of traffic.

A blue 2022 VW Golf R is shown from the rear at an angle while on a desert road.

Where Will the 2022 Golf R Take You?

While the 2022 Golf R looks like a practical hatchback, it’s proof that looks can be deceiving. Volkswagen’s knack for satisfying any driver’s need for speed comes to life on the newest iteration of the rally-inspired legend, setting the stage for more power and capability than ever before. But, just as important, the Golf R delivers incredible value, from its 315-horsepower engine and torque-vectoring all-wheel-drive system to its state-of-the-art connectivity, safety, and security features. Get everything you need from behind the wheel of a speed demon, the 2022 VW Golf R.