It’s been nearly two years since the Mk8 Golf debuted — and now it’s finally arrived in the U.S.
While the Volkswagen Golf range will slim down for American buyers, the two versions folks really want have finally made their appearance at the 2021 Chicago Auto Show. The Mk8 GTI and Golf R are hot hatches we’ve particularly been looking forward to since they launched in Europe back in 2019. Now, both cars should reach U.S. dealers sometime in fall 2021.
2022 Volkswagen GTI: Here’s what’s coming
As you’d expect, the Mk8 GTI bears the same styling hallmarks and tech as its European counterpart. However, the 2.0-liter EA888 engine makes a slightly different power figure in its U.S. spec. Here, you can expect 241 horsepower and 273 lb-ft of torque, per Volkswagen’s official announcement Wednesday. That is a 13 horsepower bump from the old Mk7.5, and it also manages 27 lb-ft more torque while running on premium fuel. The Golf GTI comes standard with an electronically-controlled VAQ limited-slip differential. For those who love to row their own gears, never fear — the 6-speed manual makes its return, as does the 7-speed DSG option, sending power to the front wheels.
Wheelbases for both the GTI and Golf R stay exactly the same as before, at 103.6 and 103.5 inches respectively. The new GTI is 168.8 inches long, 57.6 inches tall and 70.4 inches wide. As for interior space, the 2022 Volkswagen GTI manages 91.9 cubic feet of total passenger space. Cargo space with the seats folded stands at 19.9 cubic feet, which goes up to 34.5 cubic feet with the seats folded. Mark 8 cars get refined styling both front and rear, with slimmer headlamps and taillights, and the GTI gets new X-shaped fog lights and new wheel designs.
GTI S standard features
Like before, the 2022 Volkswagen GTI comes in three trims: S, SE and Autobahn. The base GTI S starts off at $30,540 (including the $995 destination fee). The DSG adds $800 to the price tag, bumping the price to $31,340. That includes 18-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights, running lights, taillights and fog lights, heated side mirrors and push-button start. Automatic headlights, rain-sensing wipers, heated washer nozzles and a perforated, leather-wrapped heated steering wheel. All DSG-equipped models get paddle shifters. Sadly, the golf ball-shaped shifter is gone for the 6-speed manual, though you do still get “Scalepaper Plaid” heated cloth seats.
The S brings 30-color ambient lighting and a larger 8.25-inch infotainment display, with VW’s latest MIB3 infotainment system onboard. Four USB-C ports are spread between the first and second rows (the back ones are charge-only), and Volkswagen’s 10.25-inch Digital Cockpit Pro also comes as standard equipment. Volkswagen’s IQ.DRIVE also comes standard across the range, including forward collision warning and autonomous emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist, adaptive front lighting, and front and rear Park Distance Control.
Step up to the $35,290 SE trim, and you get more tech thrown onto the standard GTI package. That includes a sunroof, an adaptive front lighting (AFS) system for the LED headlights, an illuminated grille and a 10-inch MIB3 Discover Pro infotainment system. Hooked up to that system is a 480-watt Harman/Kardon audio system with 9 speakers. Wireless App-Connect is also available (App-Connect includes Apple CarPlay/Android Auto), Dynamic Road Sign Display is included and you get SiriusXM with three-months All Access included.
Two packages are available on the SE trim. 18-inch gloss black wheels are a $395 option. If you want ventilated leather seats with power adjustment and memory settings for the driver’s seat and leatherette door trim, that will cost $1,225.
At the top of the range, the 2022 Volkswagen GTI Autobahn adds in premium options — with a premium price tag. Manual models start at $38,990, while the DSG-equipped model starts off at $39,790. That adds in 19-inch wheels and summer performance tires for a start. On top of the other SE features, you also get Volkswagen’s DCC adaptive damping. Vienna leather seating comes standard here (heated, ventilated and 12-way power adjustable), as does leatherette door trim, three-zone climate control, a head-up display, automatic high-beam control and the Park Assist automatic parking assistant feature.
What about the 2022 Volkswagen Golf R?
The hottest hatch in VW’s stable, it’s been three years since we’ve seen the Golf R as a new model rolling out to dealer lots. The 2022 Mk8 model brings back an all-wheel drive option, but Volkswagen’s done quite a bit more to make this car worth the wait. The new Golf R uses two multi-plate clutches for true torque vectoring capability, and it’s able to send up to 100 percent of the rear torque to an individual wheel. Before, the R could only send up to half the available torque to the rear axle and that’s it.
Under the hood, the 2022 Volkswagen Golf R pumps out a healthy 315 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque. There is a caveat to consider, though, if you’re looking at the manual-equipped model. Buy a three-pedal Golf R, and your torque rating drops to 280 lb-ft. Whichever version you get, VW limits the top speed to 155 mph. DCC adaptive damping — only available on the top-spec GTI — comes standard on the all-wheel drive R.
As for pricing, Volkswagen makes the Golf R easy to work out by only offering one trim. The $44,640 price ($45,440 for the DSG) is the price you pay. With that, you get 19-inch alloy wheels on summer tires, 14-inch cross-drilled front brake rotors, LED headlights with the adaptive front lighting system, R-specific paddle shifters on the DSG, a sunroof and performance spoiler, stainless steel pedal caps and Nappa leather sport seats. VW’s 10.25-inch Digital Cockpit Pro, head-up display, 10-inch infotainment display, 480-watt Harman/Kardon audio system, the full IQ-Drive suite, wireless charging and 30-color ambient lighting all come standard here.
Still, would you pay more than $45,000 for a Golf? Let us know what you think about that (and the GTI) in the comments below.