Whatever the R means in the 2022 Volkswagen Golf R name, it has it in spades. Its rambunctious, raunchy, and a real racehorse. Head turning exterior styling, a sport meets tech interior, and performance and handling fit for a racetrack, it’s all there.
It’s guaranteed to leave a smile on your dial. We loved it so much, we didn’t want to give it back. It’s that good, from the moment you first look at it. Only one-word springs to mind; sexy. From tip to tail, Volkswagen have done an incredible job.
With a sharp, sleek, and sporty look to the hot hatch, the front end boasts subtle lines through the bonnet. Beneath this, you have a set of eagle-like Matrix LED headlights, paired together through an illuminated LED strip.
A carefully carved yet staunch R bumper rests beneath this and hugs the road. The sleek gloss black C Signature grille and front spoiler sits across the bumper, adding to the performance feel.
Cleverly, the sensors and cameras sit within the bezel, barely noticeable to the eye. Glance up its side profile, and the first thing you see are the Estoril 19-inch alloy wheels, and blue brake callipers, marked with the R logo.
Once you peel your eyes away from the rims, you get to appreciate the matte chrome finish of the exterior mirrors. Rarely do you see a car finish strong in the rear, but the Golf R has a spanky looking bum.
An R Performance rear spoiler sits over the darkened tailgate window. LED rear lights etch into the body seamlessly, matched below with exposed dual chrome tipped exhaust pipes, protruding through the gloss black R rear diffuser. It’s seriously hard to fault its look.
Once you’ve stopped salivating, it’s time to pop on into Nappa Leather appointed driver’s seat, with built-in warming and cooling function. Your tush sits firmly into the sports seat, complete with side bolstering support and an integrated headrest.
It’s quite comfortable, thanks to the electric lumbar adjustment. A beautiful 3-spoke leather covered steering wheel is loaded with touch controls for driving and media. Sitting behind this is a fully digital instrument cluster, known as the Digital Cockpit Pro.
Simply switch driving modes, or hit the view button to see multiple customised displays of the speedo, tacho, navigation, and multimedia. To the left of that sits a 10.0-inch colour touchscreen that’s among the crispest and sharpest we’ve seen.
In addition to controlling multiple media sources, you can also manage your cabin climate, switch driving modes, and tinker with an extensive list of settings available for the Golf R here. The gearstick is gone too, replaced with a gear switch.
This opens space for a well-lit phone cradle, complete with wireless charging. Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard too, so once your phone is paired, pop it into the phone cradle and away you go.
We did find one drawback to this. If you’re phone is wirelessly charging, guiding you through a navigation app, and on the phone chatting, the phone can overheat. We had an iPhone 12 Pro in the cradle, and had the phone turn off from overheating twice.
It was this combination of wireless charging, phone, and navigation that did it. Wireless charging, navigation, and streaming music was fine for hours. A simple alternative was to plug into one of the two USB-C ports on offer.
You’ll also find another two USB-C ports for the rear passengers. The audio system is out of this world as well; the bass was banging and treble on point. It comes courtesy of Harman Kardon’s 480W premium audio setup (an optional extra that’s well worth it).
For your extra bit of coin, you get a 12-channel amp, eight speakers, a centre speaker, and subwoofer. Other notable features were deep pocket storage in the doors, decent sized coffee cup holders between driver and passenger, and exceptional cabin lighting.
A sunroof would have been amazing, but it’s an optional extra too. The rear seats are comfortable for children, but adult passengers may be challenged in the legroom department in the second row.
The Golf R also comes with Volkswagen’s IQ Drive system; jam-packed with driver assists. Among the highlights are adaptive cruise control, side assist with rear traffic alert, distance warning display, lane assist, and park assist.
In our drives, we found the sensors were a little too sensitive, picking up cars which were at a healthy distance away. After a long drive in less than ideal weather conditions, we also found the sensors became dirty easily, triggering warnings continuously.
We couldn’t turn them off until we put the Golf R through a wash. On the safety front, there’s also multiple airbags, epically good performance brakes, ABS, and electronic brake pressure distribution.
If the brakes are engaged suddenly, automatic flashing brake lights let the driver behind you know that you’ve stopped suddenly. If you’re riding with kids, the rear seats are equipped with three top-tether child seat anchor points, and two ISOFIX options.
Under the hood is a turbocharged inline 4-cylinder direct injection petrol motor, latched on to a 7-speed DSG gearbox. This generates up to 235kW of power, and a zesty 400Nm of torque, pushing out to all 4-wheels. We are talking 0-100km/h in 4.8 seconds.
Fuel consumption is rated at 7.8-litres/100km by Volkswagen. In real world testing, we managed to go better, with 7.5-litres. We’ve saved the best for last in this review though, and that’s the driving experience.
We took the 2022 Volkswagen Golf R on a nice cruise up the coast from Sydney to Newcastle, then into country Hunter Valley, and back to Sydney. With multiple driving modes utilised, Comfort was the standout.
It provides smooth, effortless lane shifts and a relaxed driving feel. The always handy active cruise control worked seamlessly. Once back in Sydney, we headed out to the Blue Mountains to test the spirit of Golf R.
Switching to R mode, the exhaust note comes to life with a throaty growl. Putting the foot down around corners is astounding, thanks to the 4MOTION all-wheel drive setup, coupled to independent MacPherson struts and an anti-roll bar on the front axle.
The car sticks to asphalt, as you power on through the turn. Try accelerating down a straight road, you’ll find yourself glued to the seat. It’s thrilling and scary quick, meaning it’s also hard not to have a smile on your face as you step back out of the cabin.
Overall, we found the 2022 Volkswagen Golf R an amazing piece of machinery, living up to the pedigree of its lineage, and excelling with tasteful modern technology. Volkswagen have kept colour choices simple too, with just Pure White, Deep Black, and Lapiz Blue on offer.
You can pick up a 2022 Volkswagen Golf R in Lapiz Blue, with the premium audio option, for $73,439 drive away. It comes with a 5-year unlimited kilometre warranty, and 1-year of roadside assist.
Our test vehicle was provided by Volkswagen Australia. To find out more about the 2022 Volkswagen Golf R, contact your local Volkswagen dealer.