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The exterior of the new Volkswagen Golf R 2022.

Courtesy picture

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The exterior of the new Volkswagen Golf R 2022.

Courtesy picture

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The exterior of the new Volkswagen Golf R 2022.

Courtesy picture

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The interior of the new Volkswagen Golf R 2022.

Courtesy picture

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The interior of the new Volkswagen Golf R 2022.

Courtesy picture

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“Hot hatch” is perhaps the understatement of the year when referring to the all-new Volkswagen Golf R. This new little rocket ship comes with a new engine and six different drive modes. Yes, you read that right – six different riding configurations. More on that later.

As a family we bought a used 1999 VW Golf TDI in 2004, TDI standing for Turbo Diesel. At the time, diesel fuel was less than a dollar a gallon, and Volkswagen was one of the only manufacturers to offer a diesel-powered sedan offering.

There are times today, with gas prices soaring, that we wish we had this amazing hatchback in our lives. We could fill it up for about $10, and with the 55 mpg it would average, we did it from Springville to Anaheim, Calif., on a single tank of fuel.

Our first Golf was a manual (five-speed). It added a bit of sportiness to the ride and is something our boys loved growing up and learning to ride this type of drivetrain. However, the amount of acceleration involved at the time would be no match for the new Golf R.

Coming with a 2.0-liter turbocharged engine named EA888 by VW, the Golf is in its fourth generation and manufactured in a state-of-the-art factory in Gyor, Hungary. Running on premium fuel, this little engine will produce 315 horsepower, an increase of 27 horsepower over the last model. Add to that 295 pound-feet of torque that kicks in at 2,000 rpm and, yes, it would get us back in our seats with no problem.

Our test drive came with a six-speed manual transmission. However, there’s also a seven-speed automatic with paddle shifters and a launch control system included if that’s more your style. We are divided on what would be best. Stick was very fun and engaging; however, having the automatic would have made our daily driving a bit easier.

There’s also a new fuel injection system that introduces the high-octane gas into the engine at 5,076 pounds per square inch. Compared to the previous system, which did it at 2,900 psi, that’s pretty impressive. It allows the Golf to maintain its peak torque over a wider rev range, giving it noticeably more power.

After a week with the Golf R, you’d think our mpg numbers would be in the trash because it was so easy to goose every time we needed to accelerate. However, that was really not the case. After over 400 miles of driving, we came in at 24 mpg, just short of where the EPA put the Golf.

Our golf drive included a lot of drive time in the Utah Valley. Craig also had to take a longer drive to Ogden with two colleagues in the sedan. There weren’t many complaints from Shellie, who had to sit in the back the whole way to and from Ogden. She said there was plenty of space and having your own climate control zone made it even better.

As we mentioned earlier, the Golf R offers six different drive modes: Comfort, Sport, Race, Drift, Special and Custom. These each come with their own steering weight and throttle response, with the exception of Custom, which allows the driver to program to their own preferences.

Drift mode is intended for private track or roads only and must be confirmed via the infotainment screen before it can be engaged. The reasoning here is that drivers will only engage the drift on private property. We tried it in a parking lot. We’ll admit it worked really well and made it easier to drift around the corners.

Inside, the Golf R was loaded with all sorts of goodies that were standard in the R trim level. The new Volkswagen Digital Cockpit Pro was the most unique, consisting of a 10.25-inch LED screen located where normal gauges would be positioned for the driver. It was completely customizable in many ways; we were sure we weren’t even scratching the surface of what could be displayed and where it would appear.

Needless to say, we were very impressed with that alone. Added to that magic was an ambient lighting control that would not only change the ambient interior LED lighting, but also adapt the look of the infotainment screen and digital instrument panel to the new look chosen by the user. It was a cool feature and the first time we saw the entire interior theme changed by changing the ambient lighting colors.

The Golf was fitted with all sorts of safety systems including lane keeping assist and adaptive cruise control which could be activated from the steering wheel to provide a semi-autonomous driving experience. Forward collision alert and assist, blind-spot monitoring, rear traffic alert and assist, park distance warning, and a system that shuts off the fuel pump, unlocks the doors, and lights emergency crash indicators were also included.

Napa leather-covered seating surfaces are standard and heated and cooled in the front while being heated in the rear. There’s even a head-up display included in the R trim level that will show speed and navigation information.

The Golf R impressed us with its many material comforts, but especially with its overdeveloped powertrain that made daily driving so much fun.

Base price: $43,645

Destination charge: $995

Price as driven: $44,640


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