2022 Volkswagen Golf GTI

Release Date: Fall 2021
Estimated Price: Starting at $30,540
Contact your local dealers about upcoming availability and pricing details.
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2022 Volkswagen Golf GTI video

REESE COUNTS: This is the new eighth generation Volkswagen Golf GTI. [MUSIC PLAYING] When the original GTI made its debut in 1976, it essentially created the entire hot hatch segment and set the template for dozens of other sporty compacts that followed. The GTI combined the Golf's hatchback practicality with sporty driving dynamics, all in a relatively affordable package. Volkswagen has spent the subsequent decades improving on and refining that basic formula, building more than 2.3 million GTIs since 1976. I even own one. The new GTI might look different than its predecessor. But underneath this aggressive new sheet metal, it's not wholly different than the car it replaces. The big changes for '22 are new in-car tech and a revised suspension, too. There's a lot that carries over. But is it really such a bad thing that this GTI is more evolution than revolution? We'll see if this new GTI lives up to the standard of practical performance set by its forebears. If you like this video, like and subscribe and check out the links below for more info on the GTI and other cars, trucks, and SUVs. And visit edmunds.com/sellmycar to get an instant cash offer on your vehicle. [CA-CHING] All GTIs are powered by a 2-liter turbo-charged inline-4. They make a bit more grunt this year, up to 242 horsepower and 273 pound feet of torque. The transmission's a carryover, too. This car is a seven-speed automatic, but a six-speed manual is also available. It's quite a bit less than the Hyundai Veloster N's 275 horsepower and Honda Civic Type R's 306 horsepower. The Veloster N is available with both an automatic and manual transmission, while the Type R's only offered with the six-speed manual. All three cars are front-wheel drive. So there have been some changes to the suspension. The biggest benefit is steering response. My issue with the last GTI was the steering. It was a little light and overboosted, and you just didn't have that feel at the limit. Volkswagen has really fixed it with this car. It's so much nicer in the corner. You really feel the road a lot better. It just makes the whole thing more responsive. While there's not been a ton of mechanical changes, visually the GTI doesn't look a lot different. Most of those changes are in the front end. It's a lot more aggressive than before. You've got this big mouth with the honeycombs, these angry eyes with this nice LED light bar that goes across. I'm very glad that Volkswagen has kept the little red accents on the badge on the grill. It just gives the GTI a little more character. That said, it's still not quite as aggressive as the Hyundai Veloster N or the Civic Type R. Some people might want a little more show. Personally, I like the subdued looks of a GTI. So some other tells for the GTI are the big wheels and brakes. If you look in there, they're about the size of my forearm. And trust me, they really work, especially when equipped with these summer tires. If you're going to go with the GTI, I really suggest it. It makes the steering better, improves the braking and just overall handling. [ENGINE REVS] [TIRES SQUEALING] If you're eating the GTI's dust, the way to know what you're losing to is the dual exhaust and that black-accented spoiler. I admit, when I saw the GTI in photos, I wasn't sure how I felt about it. The front end looked a little too pinched and the hood a little too low. It all changed when I saw it in person. It really does work. So it doesn't take long behind the wheel of a GTI to like really know you're in something special. Everything feels a little tighter, a little more energetic. But it doesn't punish you with like a harsh ride or sharp brakes or anything like that. It all just works, and you can really tell how long Volkswagen's been refining this thing. Performance is all well and good. But what made the GTI so popular to begin with is its utility. You can throw the seats down in the back and open up the hatch. It's got more than a lot of rivals, including the Hyundai Veloster N. I moved out to California several years ago and threw everything I own in the back of that car. It's really what makes this car so great, performance, practicality at an affordable price. Now let's check out the inside. So the interior has been fully redesigned on the GTI, but it still retains that premium feel it always has. The design is clean and very German. The materials are a little nicer. Touch anything in here, and it's got a little heft. The plastics are a little nicer. I really dig these seats. The tartan look is cool. It's cloth seats, but it has a lot of character. They are heated, so you don't lose that like you do with leather seats. The leather seats are still pretty nice, though. So this car is equivalent to US spec Autobahn, the top-level trim. The only differences between this and the American car is this will get leather and a sunroof. So the GTI's interior has always been really nice. Volkswagen's been doing this for years. They know what people like. The seating position is great. The interior feels more premium in the class. The GTI is fun and sporty, but it's also a four-door hatchback. You've got room for people in the back. You can fold those seats down and expand the cargo area. I've slept in one before. It's just-- [BLEEP], my mother-- sorry. [CHIME] The GTI is just a well-rounded car. You can use it as a comfortable daily driver. You can use it to go have some fun on the weekends. You really are not sacrificing anything for anything else in this. With the seats down and the hatch open, this thing's an IKEA killer. [RIM SHOT] My biggest gripe with the new GTI is easily the touch capacitive controls. You've got temperature and volume control up here, but they're not buttons or knobs. They're just indicated touch points that you place your finger on. You don't get any feedback on it, so you don't know if it's clicking or changing unless you've got your eyes on the screen. And at night, the controls don't illuminate. You've got the same issue on the steering wheel. I can't tell you how many times I've accidentally turned the heated steering wheel on just by grazing the button because you don't actually have to press it. You just have to touch it. It's really frustrating, and they don't always use the same. Like, you can slide your finger on some. You can press on others. I don't know why Volkswagen did this. It's genuinely worse than the car that came before it for a car that's better in just about every other way. Runner-up for the most hated feature are the cup holders. It's nice because you've got a little bin. But if you actually use it to put cups in here, the drinks are just pushing on top of each other. You've got to worry about not spilling anything. I do not get why Volkswagen thought this would be a good idea. You're already going to be frustrated by the touch capacitive controls. You're not going to be thinking. You're going to pick up something. It's going to be stuck in the cup holder, and you're going to spill coffee all over this nice interior. The new GTI comes with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. If you do want to plug something in, there's USB-C ports. If you don't, there's a wireless charging pad right down here. Storage is actually pretty good. The center console is a little shallow. But you've got bins here, bins up front, and really large door pockets. The combination of practicality and performance is what makes the GTI so special. [ENGINES REV] There's certain expectations you have when you get behind the wheel of a GTI. It's got to feel fun and quick, but it can't punish you with this harsh ride. But I do have to say, this new GTI delivers. Most of the mechanical bits have carried over, including this 2-liter turbo-charged engine. It's got more horsepower this year, up to 242 horsepower and 273 pound feet of torque. I really love this lazy low-end torque you can really get into. It doesn't take much to get it moving, just a little dip of the throttle, and it just comes and builds. And for being a 4-cylinder, it's got a nice little growl, too. Complimenting the engine are a choice of two transmissions. This one has the seven-speed automatic. Now I really like this transmission. Sure, it's an automatic, but the paddle-shifters make it feel engaging. And because it's a quick-shifting dual clutch, it's really responsive. That said, I would still go with the 6-speed manual. The automatic is quicker, sure. It just doesn't have that little bit of engagement that makes the GTI so much fun. Arguably the biggest change for the new GTI was the retuned suspension. The goal was to make the steering response a little better, which is a good thing because my biggest problem with the last GTI was the steering just lacked that little bit of feel. Now while the feedback still isn't as great as something like the Civic Type R, the response is better. It's quick. You can really line up your corners and get some good turn in. So where does the GTI stack up in this class? It's not quite as raw or as sharp as the Honda Civic Type R or the Hyundai Veloster N. But it's a lot more comfortable and easy to live with every day. If you want raw performance, you might want to check elsewhere. But if you want something that's just fun all the time, the GTI is the way to go. After 2021, the GTI and upcoming Volkswagen Golf R are going to be the only Golf variant sold in America, as Volkswagen shifts its focus towards EVs and SUVs. While we lament the loss of another hatchback, the truth is Volkswagen is still sending the best versions here. The new GTI isn't a sea change or a whole rethink of what hot hatches are capable of. It doesn't reset the performance benchmark for front-wheel drive cars, like the Honda Civic Type R. And it's not as raw as other compact performance vehicles, like the Subaru WRX. But it's the balance that makes it charming. It's comfortable and practical without feeling boring, but it also doesn't shout for attention. There's space inside for four adults, and the hatch offers compact SUV-like cargo space. It's not as sharp to drive as some dedicated sports cars, but it's far less compromised than the Mazda Miata, Subaru BRZ, or Toyota 86. It's not perfect. The touch capacitive controls, I hate them. Cup holders, I hate them, too. But really the GTI has done what it's always done, be pretty damn good at everything. If you like this video, let us know in the comments. Be sure to like and subscribe. If you want to know more about the GTI or other similar vehicles, go to edmunds.com to find your next car. [MUSIC PLAYING]

2022 VW Golf GTI First Drive | Volkswagen's Redesigned Hot Hatch | What's New, Interior, Engine