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2022 Volkswagen Golf R revealed, packing 235kW and drift mode


Volkswagen has lifted the curtains on the next Golf R hot hatch, unveiling a much more powerful machine that is faster than the outgoing seventh-generation version while also packing a drift mode for added hooliganism.

Powering Volkswagen’s flagship hot hatch is a retuned version of Volkswagen’s faithful EA888 turbocharged 2.0 litre four-cylinder petrol engine that is also found in this car’s well-known GTI sibling.

However, while Volkswagen opted to retain the Golf GTI’s 180kW of power – the same figure produced by the outgoing Mk 7 GTI – the all-paw Golf R sees power jump from 213kW in seventh-gen form to 235kW for the Mk 8. Torque is set to increase from 380Nm to 420Nm, at least in European markets.

2022 Volkswagen Golf R
Volkswagen has unveiled the new Mk 8 Golf R which will arrive in Australia in 2022

In the past, Australia has missed out on full-power versions of the Golf R due to Volkswagen’s classification of our market as ‘hot climate’ – but cousin Skoda’s victory in securing the Kodiaq RS diesel for Australia – despite a previous bar on that powertrain in hotter markets – means Aussies could finally secure a full-strength car when the Golf R arrives locally in 2022.

Putting power to the ground is an all-wheel drive system with rear wheel torque control along with Volkswagen’s Vehicle Dynamics Manager. This system works with the electronic front differential and adaptive chassis control to make the hatchback more agile and precise in the corners.

The combination of a punchy turbo four-banger and AWD will propel the city hatch from 0 to 100kph in 4.7, which is 0.1 of a second down from the Mk 7’s claimed time. The top speed is limited to 250kph.

2022 Volkswagen Golf R Mk 8
The Golf R Mk 8 packs 235kW of power and 420Nm of torque

At the factory the Golf R will be built with either a six-speed manual and a seven-speed DSG dual-clutch gearbox, but it is not clear if the third-pedal version is coming to Australia. In a shock move, Europe will not receive a manual Golf R, with the company only willing to confirm that the United States and Canada will receive the stick-shift at this stage.

Volkswagen has fitted two new driving settings to the Golf R, known as ‘drift’ and ‘special’ modes. The drift mode reduces the sensitivity of the electronic stability control nannies, adjusting the torque to help the hatchback get its rear end out under power. It’s a function that should be similar to that seen in the previous-generation Ford Focus RS – though unlike that super-hatch, it is electronic rather than mechanical in operation.

‘Special’ model has been tuned specifically for German’s famous Nurburgring and will soften the dampers of the Golf R to allow the wheels to maintain better traction on rough and uneven surfaces. While these characteristics are primarily designed to suit the famous German circuit, they also sound like a near-perfect fit for Australia’s classically pockmarked B-roads.

The German automaker has also fitted the Golf R with stiffer anti-roll bars and springs that not only give the small hatchback a more sporty ride but also drop the ride height by 20mm over the old model. 

2022 Volkswagen Golf R dash
Drivers are greeted with a cockpit-like interior with a 10-inch multimedia display

The Golf R also comes with tweaked adaptive dampers while wheel camber has also been changed for increased high-speed stability during cornering. There has also been an effort to trim some fat, with the inclusion of a lightweight aluminium subframe saving around 3kg but total kerb weight has not yet been confirmed.

Drivers keen on carving up the corners will welcome the larger brakes added to the new Golf R with front rotors enlarged from 340mm in diameter on the Mk 7 to to the 358mm for the new vehicle.

Volkswagen has also used aluminium for the twin pistons in the front callipers which cuts weight up 60 per cent in the crucial unsprung area. A larger brake cylinder has also been added to increase braking feel.

2022 Volkswagen Golf R seats
The 2022 Volkswagen Golf R comes with nappa leather seats with chunky bolsters to keep you strapped in for the extra performance

While the Golf R is famous for being far quicker than it has any right to be, drivers are also drawn to the interior which has a reputation of being a useful and comfortable place to be.

Inside drivers find themselves in a cockpit style driving position with the nappa leather seats holding the driver in place with keener bolstering than the regular model. Blue highlights continue to be the interior theme for the Golf R, which sports a more toned-down interior when compared to the tartan-laden Golf GTI that uses bursts of red as a hero colour.

The digital instrument cluster sits directly in front of the driver while the and 10-inch multimedia display can be controlled by the touchscreen or via the haptic feedback buttons on the heated steering wheel.

2022 Volkswagen Golf R interior
Buttons are continuing to fall out of fashion with more reliance placed on the touchscreen

Fans of buttons will be let down, with the Golf R joining the rest of the already-unveiled Mk 8 range in moving most controls to touchscreens or touch-sensitive switchgear.

R specific trim is found everywhere in the interior, from carbon ‘look’ touch-points in the door cards and stainless steel pedal, while the dash is lit with ambient lighting with 30 colours to pick from.

The Golf R has kept styling at a conservative level with some notable exceptions such as the quad-exhaust and a rear spoiler that wrap around the hatchback.

Volkswagen has also fitted the Golf R with a unique body kit, with R specific intakes, side-skirts and a splitter to complete the stealthy performance look.

According to Volkswagen’s Australian representatives, the Golf R is likely to come to Australia in both hatch and wagon body styles some time in 2022 – but a specific confirmation, and more exact timing, has not yet been received.