There was a time when the hot hatch was a friendly, simple, tossable thing. A few extra horses, better springs, not much weight. Mastery of momentum, speed without severity. That time spawned a litany of legends, from the Mk.1 GTI to the Peugeot 205 GTI, the momentum of greatness carrying the line straight through to today’s Veloster N. Yet somewhere along the way that bloodline mixed with the spawn of supercars, resulting in the bizarre newborn I find myself in today.
Because the 2022 Volkswagen Golf R is not the simple everyman hero, the mass-produced Marvel man to save us all. That remit belongs to the GTI. This is the R, the one that sits atop the hot hatch dogpile, deploying the best technology the VW Group brain trust has to offer. Forget simplicity, this squat-stanced steed has its eyes on supremacy.
Your first clue is the price. At $44,640, the Golf R is encroaching on Audi territory. So be it. The thing shares its entire undersides with the Audi S3, from platform to its sensational 2.0-liter turbo. Power jumps nearly 30 hp over the previous car, from 288 hp to 315 horsepower. Torque, though seemingly endless from behind the wheel, plateaus at 310 lb-ft. A majority of buyers will have that routed through a seven-speed dual-clutch, but the North American car offers something European buyers can no longer get: A six-speed manual.
For the full story, check out this article from Road & Track.