In North America, these are the only ways to get a Golf—which is no bad thing.
After watching our European friends enjoy the latest Mk8 Volkswagen Golf for over a year already, North Americans are finally getting our turn. At the Chicago Auto Show today, VW shared all the details on the two versions of the hatchback we’ll get on this side of the Atlantic: the front-drive Golf GTI and the all-wheel-drive Golf R.
Yes, only the performance models will live on here. Volkswagen saw a large share of Golf sales were GTI and R models for the seventh generation, ensuring their survival. Meanwhile, the new Taos and existing Jetta should combine to pick up most of the lost Golf TSI sales.
Both the GTI and R ride on the latest evolution of VW’s MQB platform. Volkswagen has resisted the industry trend of stretching them much, too. Wheelbases remain the same as before, at 103.6 inches (2,631 mm) for the GTI and 103.5 inches (2,629 mm) for the R. Length and height are up around an inch (25 mm), while the Mk8 cars are a skosh narrower than their predecessors. The exterior design is evolutionary, with classic touches like the Golf’s distinctive C-pillar mixing with the thinner LED headlights up front. The grilles feature the respective model color pinstripe—red on GTI, blue on R—along with an available light-up bar to frame the revised VW logo. The three-door model is gone, with Volkswagen citing low sales.
Under the sharply raked hood sits VW’s tried-and-true EA888 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder. The GTI now produces 241 horsepower, up from the 228 hp of today’s model. Torque is a stout 273 lb-ft. Meanwhile, the hotter R is up to 315 horsepower, 27 hp more than before. The Golf R’s torque figure depends on the transmission: 280 lb-ft with the standard six-speed manual, or 295 lb-ft with the seven-speed dual-clutch. The GTI also comes in both two- and three-pedal flavors.
For this latest GTI, Volkswagen’s VAQ electronic-LSD is standard on all trims. Meanwhile the Golf R’s 4Motion all-wheel-drive system now includes rear-axle torque vectoring. Depending on the situation, the system can send up to 100 percent of the rear axle torque to an individual wheel. Dynamic Chassis Control (DCC) adaptive damping remains optional on these hot hatches.
Inside, the Mk8 Golf gets a major tech refresh with a standard 10.25-inch digital instrument panel, along with touch panels for the lighting and audio controls. An 8.25-inch central touchscreen is standard on the base GTI, with a 10.0-inch unit replacing it elsewhere in the lineup. Opting for larger screen allows drivers to place the native navigation smack dab in the middle of the instrument cluster. More digital information is available with the optional head-up display, too. VW hasn’t gone too new-world though: there’s still tartan seats (in a new pattern), plus the golf-ball gear shifter on six-speed models. Wireless charging is standard across the board, though the base GTI misses out on the wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto of the rest of the lineup.
GTI pricing will begin at $30,540 in America, including $995 in destination; Canadian pricing kicks off at $33,445, with $1,950 in destination. Opting for the DSG adds an extra $800 ($1,400 CAD). Standard equipment includes 18-inch wheels (17s in Canada), auto LED headlights, rain-sensing wipers, 30-color ambient lighting, four USB ports, and blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert. A mid-level SE trim ($35,290; $36,945 CAD Autobahn in Canada) brings in adaptive LED headlights, light-up grille, larger infotainment, and other goodies. The top Autobahn rings in at $38,990 (called GTI Performance in Canada, from $40,945 CAD), adding 19-inch wheels shod in summer performance rubber, leather seating with ventilation, rear heated seats, a Harman/Kardon sound system, and head-up display.
The Golf R comes in a single fully-loaded trim, packing in all the above goodies, plus R-specific styling cues inside and out. It will retail for $44,640 ($46,945 CAD). The 2022 Volkswagen Golf GTI and Golf R will roll into VW dealerships in both Canada and America in the fourth quarter of this year.
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