Driving all three manual-equipped 2022 VW models | Golf GTI, Golf R and Jetta GLI

David S.
By David S. Wallens
Apr 17, 2022 | Volkswagen, VW, Jetta, GTI, Golf, Golf R, GRM+, GLI | Posted in Buyer's Guides , News and Notes | From the Feb. 2022 issue | Never miss an article

Photography Courtesy Volkswagen

Despite Volkswagen’s heavy embrace of electric vehicles, it’s still working to save the stick. How? For 2022, the Golf GTI, Golf R and Jetta GLI will all be available with a traditional six-speed manual box. 

In fact, only the U.S. and Canadian markets will get the Golf R with the stick. Now do you feel the love?

2022 Golf GTI

The big news about the all-new Golf GTI? It comes with a six-speed manual–but you already know that because you read the introduction of this piece.

Volkswagen will also offer a seven-speed DSG, with both transmissions hooked up to an updated EA888, in this case a 2.0-liter turbo variant making 241 horsepower and 273lb.-ft. of torque. 

This engine feels so flexible that it really doesn’t need the six speeds. Torque is available everywhere. Like, everywhere. Lag? Not an issue. 

[Project Car: 1984 Volkswagen Rabbit GTI]

Shifter feel is typical for a modern front-drive performance car. It’s not an NA Miata, but action is still solid and predictable. We just have to admit that the days of solid-mounted shifters and lightweight flywheels ended long ago. So, in today’s context, it’s right there. 

Brake specs come from the previous Golf R: 13.4-inch front and 12.2-inch rear discs. A torque-sensing limited-slip differential comes standard.

The chassis feels solid and stiff, but remember that it’s still a front-drive chassis. Take your reference point–really any recent GTI or Civic Si–and add more torque. So basically it’s an evolution of the much-loved hot compact. 

The latest Golf GTI starts at $29,545 when fitted with the manual box. If you go with the DSG, MSRP starts at $30,345. No matter the trim level, the interior feels solid and upmarket. 

The one thing that has drawn complaints, though: the lack of a knob for the radio volume. Is it a deal-breaker? Based on comments overheard at the introduction, you’d think it is. (Your mileage may vary, of course.)

2022 Golf R

The all-wheel-drive Golf R continues with the latest Golf chassis, with output from the 2.0-liter EA888 pushed to 315 horsepower and nearly 300 lb.-ft. of torque. 

Then add in rear-torque vectoring. What’s that? Here’s an explanation from the VW press materials: “Using a rear differential with two multi-plate clutches, it can distribute up to 100% of the rear torque to an individual rear wheel to maximize cornering grip.” 

Brakes have been beefed up, too, with the latest Golf R getting 14.1-inch front and 12.2-inch rear discs. Aluminum front hats come standard. So does adaptive damping.

The driving experience is easy to sum up: Take the Golf GTI and crank up the knobs a bit while tossing in a bit of Subaru STI. The Golf R pulls even harder than the GTI–it could probably make do with an old-school four speed, really–while the all-wheel drive brings the rear end into play. Bring around the rear end with the throttle? Okay, you can do that. (While our initial drive took place on public streets, hopefully we’ll track test one soon.)

While the car offers breathtaking performance, one point gives us pause: The Golf R, available in just a single trim level, retails for $43,645. Depending on your math skills, that’s a nearly 50% premium over the base GTI. Is that extra boost–and grip–worth the extra price?

2022 Jetta GLI

Volkswagen has freshened its Jetta for 2022, with the performance-tuned GLI variant making 228 horsepower and 258 lb.-ft. of torque from its 2.0-liter EA888.

That might sound like weak sauce compared to the rest, but here’s the take-home message: You can play with this one without getting into the danger zone. It’s the sleeper of the line, the one you can slide around without fear of going to traffic jail. 

And then there’s the terrific intake honk. If you came of age in the ’90s–back when all the cool kids ran Iceman cold-air intakes–then the sound will transport you to a time when 200 horsepower in a front-driver was really pushing it. 

More old-school goodness: closer-to-traditional radio controls, including actual knobs. The seats feature plenty of bolstering without getting crazy, too. The manual box felt like it belonged there–good ratios and positive shifter action. 

The car’s price, though, probably won’t steal customers from the Golf GTI. The Jetta GLI starts at $30,995 when fitted with the six-speed manual. Go with the seven-speed DSG, though, and the price bumps up to $31,795. But the Jetta still has a place, as it’s one of today’s few smaller sedans that can be had with a real manual box.

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Comments
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Colin Wood
Colin Wood Associate Editor
12/15/21 11:41 a.m.

It's pretty neat that it's North America–not Europe–that gets the special treatment and gets the manual transmission in the Golf R.

Thank you, VW.

N o d d a z
N o d d a z GRM+ Memberand UberDork
12/15/21 1:41 p.m.

A GTi in Arrest-me-Red please!

PMRacing
PMRacing GRM+ Memberand UltraDork
12/15/21 2:58 p.m.

I don't buy new cars.  But the new Golf R is tempting me. It may be one of the last 6MT cars and I want to support that. But that much for a Golf?!?  Not sure I can do it. I need to try one if possible. 

preach (dudeist priest)
preach (dudeist priest) GRM+ Memberand Dork
12/15/21 3:50 p.m.

I absolutely love my 6MT Golf R (mk6 though).

AnthonyGS (Forum Supporter)
AnthonyGS (Forum Supporter) SuperDork
12/15/21 10:48 p.m.

I may need to drive an R one day.

preach (dudeist priest)
preach (dudeist priest) GRM+ Memberand Dork
12/16/21 3:38 p.m.

In reply to AnthonyGS (Forum Supporter) :

If you find yourself somewhere between Boston, MA and Portland, ME. You can drive mine.

AnthonyGS (Forum Supporter)
AnthonyGS (Forum Supporter) SuperDork
12/16/21 3:46 p.m.
preach (dudeist priest) said:

In reply to AnthonyGS (Forum Supporter) :

If you find yourself somewhere between Boston, MA and Portland, ME. You can drive mine.

That is a part of the country I've always wanted to visit but never have.  I will be in DC this summer.  

docwyte
docwyte PowerDork
12/16/21 4:41 p.m.

The new Golf R has a bunch of features I wish my '19 R had, like memory for the drivers seat, ventilated seats, sunroof, heated steering wheel, better torque vectoring rear diff.  However my R has a MUCH better interior control layout with real buttons and knobs.  You couldn't give me enough money to swap cars simply because of that...

CyberEric
CyberEric Dork
12/16/21 7:19 p.m.

Yeah Jason Cammisa slammed VWs new infotainment and interior design, and he's a VW perv. Sounds like they blew it on that front. 
 

I like the exterior design though. 

I stopped at a local VW dealer today.  They have an R inbound next week with several more on the way over the coming several months.  I want to try on the interior, but assuming that is a good fit I plan to reserve one of them.

docwyte
docwyte PowerDork
12/17/21 10:09 a.m.

In reply to Loweguy5 (I'm just here for the free snacks...) :

You need to try the interior while driving it.  Playing with all the haptic buttons while the car is sitting still won't give you an idea of how much of a PITA it is to actually use them

In reply to docwyte :

I have watched a lot of reviews and fully understand the complaints about the infotainment.  While I get why there are complaints, that interface isn't an issue for me.  The sheer ridiculous performance of the R excuses overly-sensitive touch controls.

I don't need to drive it for every day commuting, so my sense is that the issue is an annoyance, not a deal-breaker for me.

What I want to try on is whether my kids can comfortably sit in the back seat.  The sale of my Stinger GT came because my daughter couldn't get her feet under the back of my driver's seat (like my seat was on the floor, and if I raised it then my head was touching the roof).

I'm hopeful the more upright seating will allow my kids to ride in relative comfort in the back as we may take the occasional trip in it.

docwyte
docwyte PowerDork
12/18/21 11:30 a.m.

In reply to Loweguy5 (I'm just here for the free snacks...) :

It's basically the same size as my Mk7.5 R and that car can carry adults in the back seat pretty comfortably.  So I don't think it'll be an issue.

I'm disappointed to say that I stopped in at a local dealer and tried a 22 GTI on for size and found the backseat super tight if I had the front seat where I would want it.  I am 6'2" and about 270, and the front seat travel and comfort are fantastic.  However when I put my currently 5'3" 13 year old behind me, she will have very little knee or leg room.  The foot space is fine, it's legs that I believe to be an issue.  When the next R lands I'll go try it to verify my impressions.

Oddly, the Jetta has what feels like a massive amount of rear seat space compared to the GTI.  If both had the rear seat room of the GLI, I would put a deposit on an R tomorrow with zero fear of regrets.  

docwyte
docwyte PowerDork
12/21/21 9:23 a.m.

R is exactly the same size as the GTI

Brett_Murphy (Agent of Chaos)
Brett_Murphy (Agent of Chaos) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
12/21/21 11:28 a.m.
AnthonyGS (Forum Supporter) said:

I may need to drive an R one day.

Most dealers won't let you drive an R. 

ProDarwin
ProDarwin MegaDork
12/21/21 11:31 a.m.
Loweguy5 (I'm just here for the free snacks...) said:

Oddly, the Jetta has what feels like a massive amount of rear seat space compared to the GTI. 

That doesn't seem odd.  Its 15" longer.

irish44j (Forum Supporter)
irish44j (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
12/21/21 4:56 p.m.
Colin Wood said:

It's pretty neat that it's North America–not Europe–that gets the special treatment and gets the manual transmission in the Golf R.

Thank you, VW.

It's because the competition market is getting pretty low for manual transmissions. I was never a big VW fan but I drive a GTI now mostly because it was one of the few things I liked and could afford that still had a manual. Zero chance I would have bought this car without it.

z31maniac
z31maniac MegaDork
12/21/21 6:02 p.m.

$44k + TTL is a lot of cheddar. But everything is pretty expensive these days. 

In reply to docwyte :

Yes I'm aware, but they don't have the same seats.  My dealer told me I could drive theirs when it arrives so I can fiddle around with my seating position which will help me formulate a final opinion.

In reply to ProDarwin :

Providing for a trunk....

pinchvalve (Forum Supporter)
pinchvalve (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
2/11/22 9:15 a.m.

$43K is an interesting price point for the R. Hyundai N cars undercut that by a fair margain with similar HP, but without AWD. Nissan hasn't finalized Z prices, but they seem to be about that ballpark for RWD and 400hp, but no back seat or hatch. The Supra is way more. The BRZ is way less. The new STI will certainly be more, if they make one. There doesn't seem to be a direct competitor to the R now or on the horizon, so the price is hard to compare. Its more about how many doors, horsepower and drive wheels do you want for your $43K? 

Tom_Spangler (Forum Supporter)
Tom_Spangler (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
2/11/22 9:20 a.m.
CyberEric said:

Yeah Jason Cammisa slammed VWs new infotainment and interior design, and he's a VW perv. Sounds like they blew it on that front. 

Every review I've seen has slammed the infotainment. Apparently it's bad enough that many reviewers consider it a deal-breaker. I wonder how quickly VW could revamp it. Maybe 2024?

fidelity101 (Forum Supporter)
fidelity101 (Forum Supporter) UberDork
2/11/22 3:40 p.m.
PMRacing said:

I don't buy new cars.  But the new Golf R is tempting me. It may be one of the last 6MT cars and I want to support that. But that much for a Golf?!?  Not sure I can do it. I need to try one if possible. 

"Thanks to the internet, never before have so many people known so little about so much." - Me

 

wait for toyota GR carolla then too...

Kpcheng
Kpcheng
4/17/22 1:51 p.m.

Interesting that the most significant negative with the new R is the price differential with the GTI.  Same issue in 2004 when dealers couldn't move the original Mk. IV R32.  I've never regretted buying mine for a minute (amazingly at a big discount).  Still have it and never selling it. 

Pete. (l33t FS)
Pete. (l33t FS) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
4/17/22 2:44 p.m.
Loweguy5 (I'm just here for the free snacks...) said:

In reply to ProDarwin :

Providing for a trunk....

And 2" of wheelbase, too.

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