Closer Look: 2022 VW Golf GTI Gets More Power and Revised Chassis, Keeps Its Stick-Shift
The sleek exterior design update for the new 2022 Volkswagen Golf GTI comes with a 30-horsepower boost, a revised chassis with sharper steering and snappier handling with minimal understeer, four levels of “driver profile selection,” and a fancier interior with more equipment. The VW Golf R will return to North America when the next GTI premiers here, scheduled for the third quarter of 2021.
VW has confirmed both cars will still come with a six-speed manual gearbox as standard. Barring any delays in response to the global pandemic, both the 2022 Volkswagen Golf GTI and Golf R will launch in the United States and Canada about the same time, the automaker says. VW previewed the eighth-generation Golf GTI in a video conference Wednesday, but didn’t give any details on the more powerful model.
The 2022 Volkswagen Golf GTI features dimensions and weight that are about the same as the outgoing model, the first to use VW’s MQB platform, though the new GTI is about 0.6-inch lower than the present Golf GTI. VW confirmed rumors that the GTI and R, both assembled in Wolfsburg, Germany, will be customers’ choices here for entry into VW hatchbacks.
“It’s highly unlikely that standard versions of the Golf will come to North America,” Megan Closset, Golf family product manager said. She added that VW of America is considering importing the Golf 8 TSI to the Canadian market only.
The U.S. and Canada buy up 45 percent of global GTI and Golf R production, and VW of America would like to sell special editions such as the GTI Club, Club Sport, and TSR sold previously only in Europe. But any versions with a different powertrain would require costly, separate EPA certifications, said Hein Schafer, senior vice president for product marketing and strategy.
2022 Volkswagen Golf GTI: Sleek Look
The Mark 8 2022 Volkswagen Golf GTI’s new exterior design is “more evolutionary than revolutionary,” Schafer said. Don’t stop the presses; since the first GTI, sheetmetal updates to the boxy hot hatchback have been relatively subtle. The new car’s nose is quite striking for a conservative redesign, featuring a widened lower front fascia with five distinctive LED foglamps peeking out from both corners. The thin grille is topped by thin signature LED headlamps connected by a body-width LED lamp.
The profile is pretty familiar, but easy to spot by its faster, more dynamic c-pillar. The tornado-red brake calipers remain, and a 19-inch cast-aluminum wheel option, shod with 235/35 summer tires will be optional. All-season tires on 18-inch wheels will be standard in the U.S., while VW will offer Canadians their choice of 17s and 18s on all-seasons in addition to the 19s. Dual exhaust pipes will return, on the left and right sides under the lower fascia.
2022 Volkswagen Golf GTI: Fancier Interior
The 2022 Volkswagen Golf GTI retains the standard tartan plaid seats, and they are heated, with a new design pattern. A perforated-leather seat option will be heated and ventilated. The steering wheel cover is perforated again (last seen on the Golf 6 GTI), and a heated wheel will be standard.
The steering wheel features a complement of multi-function touch controls, and the instrument panel has digital gauges. The MIB infotainment system will come with an 8.25-inch or 10-inch screen. The interior has red accents throughout, just like past models, but for the Golf 8 version, a 30-color ambient-lighting system, including a “GTI-specific mode,” will come standard.
A shift-by-wire gear selector and steering-wheel paddle-shifters come with the optional 7DSG transmission, and a head-up display projecting onto the windshield will be an option as well. VW has ditched the extra-cost Fender premium audio system for a Harmon-Kardon hi-fi unit.
2022 Volkswagen Golf GTI: More Power and Torque
The 2022 Volkswagen Golf GTI employs the fourth generation of VW’s EA888 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine, and it will make 258 horsepower and 273-lb-ft of torque, up from 228 and 242, respectively. The six-speed manual gearbox remains standard, and the seven-speed DSG automatic gearbox again will be optional, in both the GTI and the Golf R. VW of America claims a high take-rate of about 40 percent for manual Golf 7 GTIs, and expects a similar rate for the new model.
2022 Volkswagen Golf GTI: Better Handling and Steering
The manufacturer’s goal was to improve the 2022 Volkswagen Golf GTI’s performance while maintaining comfort, with better cornering grip, greater stability and precision, and more predictability, said Karsten Schebsdat, manager of vehicle dynamics and chassis control. The MacPherson-strut front suspension’s wishbone bushings, springs, and hydraulics are redesigned, with new damper hydraulics and software for its dynamic control. A more rigid aluminum front subframe is about 6.6 pounds lighter, too. The multilink rear axle has reconfigured wishbone bushings, springs and helper springs, new wheel mounts, and new damper bearings and hydraulics.
Engineers stiffened the 2022 Volkswagen Golf GTI’s front spring rates by 5 percent, and the rear springs are 15-percent stiffer. An electronically controlled front-axle limited-slip differential comes standard, and progressive-ratio steering is 14:1 in the middle, with a quick 2.1 turns lock-to-lock.
Driver profile choices are oddly named: “below comfort,” for the softest possible ride, and onto “comfort,” “sport,” and “above sport,” going to 11. There are three settings for the electronic stability control, including all-nannies-off. VW says that in the top mode, the car can drift slightly.
VW promises that driver assistance will be state-of-the-art, which seems at least somewhat antithetical to this car, including lane-keep assist and park assist. Brakes are reworked for better feel and dynamic response.
VW says it cut lap times by 3.9 seconds on its Ehra 2.05-mile test track, comparing a Golf 8 GTI to a Golf 7 GTI, both with the new car’s more powerful engine. As shown on the accompanying video, the new GTI’s nose turns in neatly on tight corners, with trailing-throttle oversteer.
“The faster you go, the more stable the car gets,” said VW factory driver Benjamin Leuchter.
2022 Volkswagen Golf GTI Pricing
Though the decision to drop all Golf models other than the GTI and Golf R effectively repositions those offerings within the brand, Closset said the company is working to hold price increases to less than 10 percent when the 2022 Volkswagen Golf GTI reaches our shores. We’re looking forward to it, and then some.
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