Volkswagen Golf R 2022, to the test: a 315-hp hot-hatch and manual gearbox, deliciously fun

The Golf range hasn’t been the same since someone at Volkswagen came up with a rally-inspired version. That iconic R32 started a lineage of hot-hatches that today, after almost 20 years, continue to find a place among the most enthusiastic. The Volkswagen Golf R 2022 It is the best Golf in history, but its future in Mexico it is still uncertain. We traveled to the US to find out what to expect – … or what not – of your new generation.

On video

The Volkswagen Golf R It’s one of those easy-to-love, hard-to-sell cars, or so it seems in a region where sports versions of an SUV are more common than a hatchback. But time has put the Golf R in a prime position. Its previous generation exceeded sales expectations in Mexico, even with the challenge of costing what it cost and having been a three-door model —which fascinates us, but not everyone appreciates them—. That shows that it is not only a car for enthusiasts, but also for fans.

From his eighth generation there is something that strikes me: next to a GTI, it does not look radically more aggressive. At least not with the naked eye. It receives a specifically designed fascia and exclusively wears the Lapiz Blue paint, although its position as the most powerful Golf in the range can only be seen in the details: 19 “aluminum wheels, four tailpipes and a more attractive spoiler. But enough of the design. Let’s drive!

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Fun, fast, docile … and with manual box!

Over the years, the entire Volkswagen Golf range has carefully calculated its evolution. The R version is no exception. If you contrast the technical sheet with that of its past generations, you will be entitled to think that its evolution has been timid, because that seems on paper; keep wearing a 2.0 TSI engine – now with 315 hp and 295 lb-ft -, all-wheel drive and manual or DSG gearbox. The real jump is noticeable with what is not read in the technical sheet: until you put your hands on it.

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During the test drive I was lucky enough to be behind the wheel of a Volkswagen Golf R with manual transmission. I hadn’t driven a sports car with three pedals for a long time, and I must confess that just because of that he had already given me a smile … and had not yet pressed the power button.

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Once we configure the navigator, adjust the belt and start it, I realize how this model has evolved. The essence has not changed, but the sensations have improved. On streets and on the highway it’s a much more refined hatchback and with a ride quality that doesn’t pretend to hide its sporting spirit, but neither does it remind you of it with every bump in the road.

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The route got really interesting until we came to a mountain road, with U-shaped curves and rain – even a little snow – that challenged the chassis. That’s where the Golf R made clear the key to its success: it is a spirited car that responds to the slightest touch of the accelerator and that sticks you to the seat with any downshift I repeat, what a manual box delight, but at the same time it is still extremely docile. It is not difficult to maintain control nor do you feel that the car exceeds your capabilities. It is a one-size-fits-all sports car that, due to its level of stiffness, its precise steering and such an advanced all-wheel drive system, clings to the asphalt like a cat to an armchair.

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One of the keys to its evolution and its balanced driving is found precisely in the 4Motion traction system. On the one hand it allows the car to go catapulted from 0 to 100 km / h in 4.6 seconds without losing any of its adherence; on the other, he premieres a Drift drive mode which sends all the torque to a rear tire to unbalance the car for easy donut making. We did not test it because there was no private track to do it, but the fact that there is a specific program to unleash such a fun maneuver speaks of the passionate approach of this model – if there was still any doubt.

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Cabin with a hi-tech flavor and racing spirit

Perhaps the design and mechanical configuration of the Volkswagen Golf R have not been radically transformed in recent years – despite generational changes – but the interior takes a 180º turn for this model. The new Golf, as we have seen before, joins the Volkswagen Group’s digitization strategy and reduces the number of buttons to a minimum.

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The dash features a slim design and features a 10 “touch screen, with an advanced interface, easy to use and extremely fluid. Volkswagen left a touch panel off the screen for quick access to the drive mode, climate control, assist and parking aid menus.

Volkswagen Golf GTI 8, tested: taste of tradition in a fun and balanced hot-hatch (+ video)

Between the advanced interface, the digital instrument panel and the head-up display, the driving experience has quite a technological flavor, and matches the racing spirit of the R family. You will find a sports steering wheel, blue contrasting stitching, pedals in aluminum and sports seats that provide very good lateral support.

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The Volkswagen Golf R is not confirmed for Mexico

Even with more powerful models within the Volkswagen portfolio, the Golf R seems to me the ideal sports car due to its balance between size, performance, power and practicality. It is an “all in one” that will continue to make its followers happy in Europe and will try to win over customers in the United States, but I may not cross the border into Mexico.

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The German firm is still evaluating the future of the eighth generation of Golf in Mexico. The only version that seems to have the intention of reaching our country – and which is not entirely confirmed either – is the GTI variant. The Golf R, due to its technological configuration, would be at a price that perhaps even fans of the brand would question paying. It’s worth it? Of course, and more knowing that it still respects the versions with manual box, but everything indicates that it will remain as a forbidden fruit for our country.

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Volkswagen Golf R 2022, to the test: a 315-hp hot-hatch and manual gearbox, deliciously fun

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