2022 Volkswagen Golf GTI Preview

Christian Wardlaw | May 13, 2020
FAST FACTS
  • Eighth-generation of VW’s benchmark hot-hatch
  • Production moves from Mexico to Germany
  • Familiar design and engineering, with improved performance
  • High-tech interior with numerous standard features
  • Plaid cloth or leather upholstery
  • Manual or dual-clutch transmission
  • Base price to rise above $30,000
  • On sale in the third quarter of 2021

Introduction

In the mid-1970s, Volkswagen planned 5,000 examples of a performance-tuned Golf. Called the GTI, it debuted for 1976 in Europe and became an instant legend. Since that time, VW has sold more than 2.3 million examples of its benchmark hot hatchback, prompting Volkswagen’s Hein Schafer, Senior Vice President, Product and Marketing, to characterize the GTI as “the most iconic Volkswagen ever produced.”

The redesigned 2022 Volkswagen GTI continues the tradition of providing accessible performance at an affordable price. Though the company expects 2022 Volkswagen GTI prices to rise as much as 10% over the outgoing model, putting the car over the $30,000 mark to start, the new GTI’s added performance, technology, and equipment help to justify the premium. Additionally, GTI assembly returns to Wolfsburg, Germany, shifting away from the company’s Puebla, Mexico facility.

2022 Volkswagen Golf GTI in red front view

Volkswagen says the 2022 GTI will go on sale in North America in the third quarter of 2022, with a choice between a manual gearbox and a dual-clutch transmission.

Exterior Features

As expected, the new Mark 8 GTI’s exterior design doesn’t depart dramatically from the outgoing Mark 7 Volkswagen GTI. Red accents signal its added performance over a standard Golf, along with a honeycomb grille, Tornado Red brake calipers, and dual, round, chrome exhaust outlets.

2022 Volkswagen Golf GTI exterior view

Three main differences define the Mark 8 GTI’s appearance. First, the upper grille gets the same illumination treatment that will roll out to other VW models in the future. Second, an array of 10 LED fog lights is deftly integrated into the lower grille. Third, 19-inch aluminum alloy wheels will be available for the first time, an upgrade from the standard 18-inch wheels.

Additionally, VW will not build a 2-door GTI. The Mark 8 comes only with a 4-door body style that is slightly lower in terms of roof height but otherwise nearly identical to the Mark 7 in terms of wheelbase, dimensions, and curb weight.

Interior Features

Technology comes to the forefront with the new GTI, which employs what Volkswagen calls an Innovision cockpit design. 

2022 Volkswagen Golf GTI dash and interior view

The company’s digital instrumentation is standard, shown on a 10.25-inch display. To the right of that, canted at an angle toward the driver, the next-generation infotainment system includes a standard 8.25-inch touchscreen display with a 10-inch screen available as an upgrade. It includes new We Connect services with digital streaming radio, Wi-Fi, and other features.

Plaid cloth sport-bolstered seats are standard, with a new and more subtle pattern. They’re heated, too, to help ward off the winter chill. Automatic climate control and keyless entry and engine starting are standard, and owners can customize the interior ambient lighting with 30 different colors. Volkswagen says there is a specific choice designed to highlight what makes a Golf a GTI.

A new multifunction sport steering wheel also debuts in the GTI, with perforated leather grips where the upper spokes intersect with the thick rim. Large thumb rests mark the 10-and-2 positions on the wheel, and it is heated as standard equipment.

Optional Features

Volkswagen will offer leather upholstery for the 2022 GTI, and ventilated front seats are a new option. The car is also available with a head-up display projecting information onto the windshield, as well as a Harman Kardon premium sound system. Undoubtedly, navigation is part of the upgrade to the larger infotainment system display.

Under the Hood

Naturally, key development goals for the all-new 2022 Volkswagen GTI focused on delivering greater driving pleasure.

Starting with the engine, the turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder is an improved version of the existing EA888 powerplant, now rated to make 242 horsepower and 273 lb.-ft. of torque. These figures represent improvements of 14 hp and 15 lb.-ft. over the outgoing Mark 7, in a package that VW says weighs about the same.

A 6-speed manual gearbox is standard on all GTI models, not surprising given that VW says 45% of its customers want to row their own gears. A 7-speed dual-clutch transmission (DCT) is available, with a new electronic shifter that takes up less space on the car’s center console. Paddle shifters on the steering wheel allow for manual control of the DCT.

Standard equipment includes Volkswagen’s electronic front differential lock (XDS) and limited-slip differential (VAQ) technologies, as well as brake-based torque vectoring, each designed to help the GTI overcome the inherent limitations of a front-wheel-drive powertrain and layout. 

Engineers also substantially reworked the front MacPherson strut and rear multilink suspension designs to improve turn-in response, boost cornering grip, reduce body roll, limit understeer, and enhance overall vehicle stability. Volkswagen’s Dynamic Chassis Control (DCC) adaptive damping suspension (with driving dynamics management) is an option for the new GTI. New software improves the system for 2022, and drivers can select between Eco, Comfort, Sport, Individual, and Snow modes. Using Individual, drivers can choose from 15 different dynamic configurations.

Progressive-rate steering is also standard, offering a more direct feel, reduced steering angle, and 2.1 turns lock-to-lock. Volkswagen has also improved brake pedal feel and modulation, especially at the threshold right before the antilock braking system engages. In combination with the Sport setting for the stability control system, the new GTI should prove more stable when braking in corners, too.

Volkswagen testing and development driver, Benjamin Leuchter, explained that the car delivers greater neutrality, stability, and agility. Collectively, the changes improve overall driving pleasure regardless of the situation, but in particular on tight and twisting roads with plenty of hairpin corners.

As evidence, VW points to internal testing of Mark 7 and Mark 8 GTIs using identical wheels and tires. The new GTI shaves nearly four seconds off the lap time around a 2.05-mile road course and adds nearly 2 mph of velocity through slalom and double-lane change handling tests. That bodes well for a palpable difference between the cars out in the real world.

Safety

In addition to a new vehicle architecture, the 2022 GTI will include several advanced driving assistance systems (ADAS) as standard equipment.

Front Assist is a forward collision warning system with pedestrian detection and automatic emergency braking. Lane Assist is a lane departure warning and lane keeping assistance system. Park Assist equips the GTI with front and rear parking sensors and a semi-autonomous parking assistance system that helps steer the car into an empty parking space. Additional ADAS for the new GTI includes blind-spot warning and rear cross-traffic warning.

Travel Assist is a new option. It pairs adaptive cruise control with lane centering assistance and works at speeds up to 130 mph. The goal of this technology is to reduce fatigue during long-distance driving, but the driver must remain attentive and keep his or her hands on the steering wheel.

Expect connected services currently offered for the GTI to continue, such as automatic collision notification and emergency assistance.

Technology

Volkswagen Digital Cockpit is a digital instrumentation display that drivers can customize in terms of the visual theme and the information shown on the screen. During the 2022 GTI virtual debut, Volkswagen showed the technology with three round gauges illuminated in red and blue, each with an inset honeycomb pattern. The tachometer took center stage, larger and more prominent than the others.

The infotainment system does not offer volume or tuning knobs, and a strip of controls located just beneath the screen provides access to basic climate functions. Main system menu, climate, driving mode, and driving assist shortcut buttons provide quick access to those screen settings. Drivers can also use steering wheel controls and, likely, voice commands, to operate the new Innovision infotainment system.

Additionally, an automatic hold system is available with the DCT, holding the GTI in place at intersections and in traffic in order to help reduce fatigue during commutes.

The information in this article is from Volkswagen and is based on a presentation given on May 13, 2020. The data may be preliminary and subject to change before the 2022 GTI goes on sale in the third quarter of 2021.

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