This was the year America said goodbye to the Volkswagen Golf. The folks (Volk?) in Wolfsburg who get paid to make decisions decided that as the eighth generation of the Golf debuted, we would only get the performance versions---the GTI and the Golf R.
I could debate the "no standard Golf" part of that decision all day long, but instead, let's just be glad that we get the two hottest hatches in the VW lineup.
Both the GTI and the Golf R have a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine under the hood. The GTI's makes 241 horsepower. The Golf R's makes 315. Drive them back to back and you'll definitely notice. In fact, drive last year's Golf R and this year's Golf R back to back and you'll notice (last year's was only packing 288 horsepower). Zero to sixty runs are over and done with in 3.9 seconds. There's as seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission, four-wheel independent suspension, vented disc brakes at all four wheels with cross-drilled rotors up front, variable-ratio steering, an XDS cross-differential system, and drive mode selection featuring special and drift modes.
And, not that you were really all that concerned, but gas mileage is top-notch for this level of performance, too. An EPA-estimated 23 city/30 highway.
Base price of the 2022 Volkswagen Golf R 2.0T is $44,890, and it comes loaded. 19-inch alloy wheels on summer tires, a three-zone automatic climate control system, Nappa leather seating surfaces, VW's IQ.Drive active safety suite including adaptive cruise control, a Harman Kardon premium audio system with center speaker and subwoofer and wireless device charging. There's more, in fact so much more that your eyes would just glaze over reading it here. That's what VW's website is for.
And that's it. Our tester had no extra-cost options. With $995 destination charge, the as-tested price of the 2022 Volkswagen Golf R 2.0T is $45,885.
The only downside is the same one I talked about at length in my GTI review earlier this year.
Easy to grab and use buttons and dials are gone in the Golf Mk VIII, replaced by functions buried in screen menus and capacitive touch buttons that give no positive feedback. All that increases the need to look away from the road to see whether you've done what you wanted to do or not. I'd hate that in ANY car. In serious drivers' cars like the GTI and Golf R, it's a massive disqualifier.
I know it seems like once tech takes over, you can't go back, but that's not strictly true. Forty years ago, Nissan was telling us the future involved cars with voices telling us things like "lights are on" and "door is ajar" and that ended really quick. The Swedish automobile magazine ViBilagare published a comprehensive test of 11 modern cars and one 17-year-old Volvo last month and found the old Volvo was the safest in terms of the amount of time required to perform a function while driving. Hopefully, the manufacturers are listening. Meanwhile, enthusiast drivers can certainly voice their displeasure.