Here’s what we love about the Mk8 Golf R

The 2022 Volkswagen Golf R is widely recognized as one of the best 2022 hot hatches, with plenty of power and smart features. The hatch returns to the scene after a 2-year hiatus, debuting the eighth generation, hence the Mk8 name. To up the stakes, the new MK8 Golf R has gotten smarter, with technology, software and hardware features to help better manage and distribute power.

volkswagen has fitted the Mk8 Golf R with a 315hp engine and standard manual gearbox, as well as advanced safety features. All of these features make the Golf R a worthy rival to the Honda Civic Type R, Audi S3 Sportback and Hyundai Veloster N.

Although the MK8 Golf R is a much more expensive hatch, with a starting price of $44,090, it offers a powerful and capable engine, a standard all-wheel-drive setup and a new drive mode for gearheads. It delivers an outstanding overall driving experience to take anyone beyond the horizon.

We dive into some of our favorite features of the new Mk8 Golf R, and why it’s the ultimate hot hatch this year.

Related: 2023 Volkswagen Golf GTI: Costs, Facts & Figures

Sporty R design just got sportier on the Mk8 Golf R

The Volkswagen Golf R has always had cool designs, and this new Golf R is no different. The Golf R lives up to the broad lines of its Golf 8 sibling but highlights them in the right areas. The front design has been upgraded with a dark air dam and new LED headlights. The huge wheels further raise the profile and lower the ride height by 0.79 inches.

The rear flaunts a bold (and somewhat) Tiguan-inspired two-tone spoiler. We also admire the air splitter and quad exhaust, which add a sporty finish.

The Mk8 Golf R has a practical, tech-rich and spacious cabin

The new Golf R benefits from a stylish and elegant interior. Like all new Golf hatches, the R offers one of the most spacious interiors to comfortably seat its 5 occupants. Although it may have an understated design, you will particularly like the legroom, headroom and armroom, which are provided to you in abundance, both in the forward and aft cabin. As always, there is so much seating comfort in all seats, even on the longest journeys. The seats come standard with Nappa leather upholstery, heated and ventilated front seats and heated rear seats. Not to mention a heated steering wheel.

For the most part, the cabin appears to be inherited from its predecessor, save for the new small blue highlights that are spread throughout the cabin, which along with the new carbon-look patterned dashboard inlay separate the R from the rest of the VW sedan family. The interior also brings all the innovations of the rest of the Golf 8 range, with the new bucket seats with a neat design.

The Golf R comes with a cool infotainment system, accessible via a standard 10-inch touchscreen located in the center of the dashboard. However, there are very few physical controls. With the touchscreen, you can access standard navigation, Wi-Fi hotspot settings, HD radio, Bluetooth, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. Wireless device charging is also standard, along with Harman Kardon stereo and a panoramic sunroof.

Other than that, there’s no wow factor inside the Golf R. Everything should look like the previous model. However, it feels like VW could have added a sleeker interior. But again, it still looks and feels great as is. Behind the rear seat, the Golf R offers 19.9 cubic feet of cargo space, which expands to 34.5 cubic feet when the seats are folded down.

RELATED: 10 Things to Know Before Buying the 2022 Volkswagen Golf R

The Mk8 Golf R has a punchy engine and fast transmission

The new R is the most powerful Golf ever. Under the sleek bonnet is a 2.0-litre TSI turbocharged four-cylinder engine, a revised version of the popular EA888 2.0-litre turbocharged engine. This engine produces 315 horsepower (gain of 27 more horsepower over the predecessor) and 295 lb-ft of peak torque which arrives from 2000 rpm and is maintained at around 5000 rpm.

Power is sent to the wheels via a standard six-speed manual transmission and an advanced “4Motion” all-wheel-drive system. But for around $800 you can upgrade to the seven-speed automatic. One of the biggest technological changes is the all-wheel-drive setup. A torque-vectoring rear differential replaced the original Haldex design.

Electromechanical dual clutches help distribute torque between the rear tires for a better, more stabilized ride, but the trick is to send all the torque to the outside rear wheel, making it easier to discover new Drift modes.

Related: Here’s what we love about the Golf R Mk7

Mk8 Golf R offers improved performance and decent mileage

Thanks to its powerful engine, the Golf R offers excellent throttle response and quick acceleration. It also has the power to smoothly enter and exit the highway. The Golf R also comes with several driving modes, which are at arm’s length from the driver. Among the driving modes is a new drift mode for those who want to do some donuts in their concrete garden or drift on the track.

Thanks to the precise steering and good grip of the standard four-wheel drive, it can handle winding roads well. If you can’t decide between the standard manual transmission and/or the optional automatic transmission, you’ll be happy to know that both systems offer exceptional shifting. Which one you choose will depend on your preferred riding level.

Maybe the mileage will influence your decision. These differ per gearbox. With the manual transmission, the Golf R delivers 20 MPG in the city and 28 MPH on the highway. The numbers drop to 23 MPG in the city and 30 MPG on the highway if the gears are automated. It’s not the best mileage in the class as there are few competing hatches that can top it, but it’s still decent numbers that will save you money at the pump.

Michael C. Ford