If you think you had to be in a two-door sports car to have one of the best sporty rides and drives of your life - or if you think it had to be with a manual gearbox - well I think we've proven otherwise here at the CarPro. Case in point, Car Pro Show host Jerry Reynolds' recent Audi RS e-tron GT review which you can see here. But it doesn't have to be a luxury vehicle to put a grin on your face. Just hop behind the wheel of the all-new 2022 Volkswagen Golf GTI 2.0T SE and hit the gas pedal. The iconic hot-hatch is technically known as the Mk8 Golf GTI which denotes its 8th-generation status. VW did an all-around outstanding job with its redesign, elevating this cult classic to a new level of greatness. Not only is it immensely fun to drive (YES even in the AUTOMATIC variant), but its all-new technology based on a new electronic architecture is absolutely superb.
Starting with its looks and design, the new Golf GTI hatchback is lower, longer and sportier than its predecessor. Aerodynamics were a huge part of the Golf's redesign during which Volkswagen says every new body panel was created from scratch. Designers also gave it a more sharply raked hood, along with new lighting, and new wheel designs - the SE rides on 18-inch 5-spoke aluminum-alloys.
You'll still get classic GTI red detailing and honeycomb accents. A red line in the GTI grille now stretches across the grille to either side of the Volkswagen logo. An optional light bar underneath adds a new, cool lighting signature. GTI-unique details include red-painted brake calipers, a GTI grille, bumper, side skirts and trim. There's also no lack of GTI badging.
SE models are equipped with upgraded LED headlights and fog lights featuring integrated Active Cornering Lights, and an illuminated grille. The SE also has heated and foldable power adjustable side mirrors. In back, LED tail lights, a GTI roof spoiler and dual chrome tipped exhaust. A new panoramic sunroof has a 5 percent larger glazed area.
The Golf is a driver enthusiasts' vehicle at its core and in my opinion one of the best rides on the road today. It also offers more power for 2022. Its 2.0-liter turbocharged engine delivers 241-horsepower and up to 273 pound-feet of torque. The 241-horsepower matches the front-wheel drive Golf's size and weight and you'll achieve the highest performance with premium fuel. My test model is equipped with an optional 7-speed dual clutch automatic with paddle shifters, but a manual six-speed is standard. The automatic provided incredibly smooth and responsive shifting. In my opinion, you do not need the manual to have fun with this vehicle.
The new Golf's high-tech well-designed interior is genius. (In fact, it just won a Wards Auto Best Interiors and UX award this week.) Everything is redesigned with a premium look and feel to it. The GTI's interior is black with red accents and a black headliner along with the Golf's classic honeycomb accents.
New heated and bolstered front sport seats with integrated head restraints feature VW's iconic plaid cloth inserts. I'm a fan of the brushed stainless-steel pedals that are standard on all trims.
A large glossy black dash area showcases all the new technology at the driver's fingertips. But VW made a terrific design decision not to overuse glossy black and made the slim center console a matte black. The console is home to among other things a cool small leather gear shift knob.
Also new for 2022, the Mk8 Golf GTI is equipped with a new heated multifunction sport steering wheel.
Second row passengers have their own air vents and the 60/40 split-folding rear seats provide a pass-through to the cargo area for longer items.
GTI standard equipment includes rain sensing wipers, rear and front carpeted floor mats, an electronic parking brake and keyless unlock upon approach.
The new Golf hits it out of the ballpark when it comes to new technology. There are two new systems: Digital Cockpit Pro and Discover Pro. Both are fantastic. Both are very customizable.
Discover Pro is hosted in a 10-inch touchscreen and runs MIB3. Thanks to the new Golf it's one of my favorite systems in the industry. Notably, the display is slightly angled towards the driver which is a great design feature. It also delivers exceptional large graphics and is so intuitive and easy to use. The system is also very responsive and includes Voice Command. It gives the backup camera some great real estate, too. Touch sliders below the infotainment display control the climate control and audio volume.
Equally impressive is VW's new highly-customizable 10.25-inch Digital Cockpit Pro which can display navigation full screen. It's colorful and so easy to read. It also features what VW calls digital sport layout gauges with real-time performance data. .
An all-new 9-speaker, 12-amplifier w/subwoofer Harmon Kardon premium audio system is outstanding. Sirius XM 360L is available with a subscription.
VW does ambient lighting very well and the GTI gives you 30-color ambient lighting choices.
The Golf is also equipped with next generation VW car-Net. And Wifi with a data plan subscription. Other tech includes wireless charging, Bluetooth and 4 USB charge ports
Ride and Drive
There is so much to love about the new Golf's ride and drive. VW says a reconfigured sport suspension and a new vehicle dynamics system making its debut in 2022 Golf family improves handling. You feel so planted to the ground and in complete command of the road. Braking is on-point too. The braking pedal response is sharp and precise. You'll get several drive modes, sport is of course is the best option because it provides more aggressive shifts.
In the past, I've sometimes felt VW was lagging a bit behind with its ADAS tech. Not this time. This has the best VW driver assistance system I've experienced to date. The IQ. Drive semi-autonomous "Travel Assist" system maneuvered highway curves at highway driving speeds impressively as designed. (Capacitive sensors monitor to make sure the driver has their hands on the wheel.) Adaptive cruise control stop and go was superb.
The IQ.DRIVE system is available on all trims and includes Travel Assist (semi-automated driving assistance); Front Assist (Forward Collision Warning and Autonomous Emergency Braking with Pedestrian Monitoring); Active Side Assist (Blind Spot Monitor); Rear Traffic Alert; Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) Stop and Go; Lane Assist (Lane Keeping System); and Emergency Assist (semi-automated vehicle assistance in a medical emergency). (Emergency Assist is only available on models equipped with automatic transmission.)
The Golf GTI is a redesign worthy of applause. VW designers did an absolutely outstanding job. It's not just engaging to drive and loaded with new technology, at roughly $36,000 I consider it a great value. Way to go VW!
- What I liked most: Driving Dynamics, Technology
- What I would change: Can't think of anything.
- MSRP: Base price: $35,095; as equipped: $36,485.
- Fuel Economy: 25 city/35 highway/28 combined.
- Odometer reading when tested:
- Weight: 3,154 pounds.
- Spare Tire: Compact Spare.
- Length-Width-Height: 168.8” long/57.6 ” wide/70.4” high.
- Fuel Tank Capacity: 13.2 gallons with fuel tank on the passenger's side.
- Official Color: Kings Red Metallic ($395).
- Towing Capacity: N/A.
- 2022 Golf GTI in a few words: VW takes its iconic hot-hatch to the next level.
- Warranty: 4-year/50,000-mile New Vehicle Limited Warranty/7-year/100,000-mile Corrosion Perforation; 2-years/20,000 miles carefree maintenance; 3-years roadside assistance.
- Final Assembly Location: Wolfsburg, Germany
- Manufacturer's website: Volkswagen