2022 VW Golf R vs. 2021 VW Golf GTI: which one is for you?

Comparing the 2022 VW Golf R to the 2021 VW Golf GTI

Would you believe that more than 47 years ago, a small compact sedan arrived on the market that would conquer many sports car enthusiasts and that, today, is synonymous with ultimate driving enjoyment.

The success of the Golf is still very present and for this new vintage, only the 2021 Golf R and Golf GTI remain in the catalog. The 2022 Golf R will arrive in Canada by the end of 2021 and VW Canada says that this Volkswagen sedan is worthy of the track.

We can take their word for it, because on the Nürburgring racing track in Germany, the new Golf R clocked a time of 7.51 minutes, which is 19 seconds faster than the previous generation. Not bad, eh?

front view of the 2022 Volkswagen Golf R parked on snow
The 2022 Volkswagen Golf R seen from the front
front view of the 2021 Volkswagen Golf GTI parked in a valley
The 2021 Volkswagen Golf GTI seen from the front

Golf R vs GTI: Power and Performance

In this text, we present the only two versions on the menu, so here’s a comparison of the 2022 Golf R vs. 2022 Golf GTI. Available only in a 5-door version, the VW Golf GTI is a little fun bomb, thanks to a 4th generation EA888, 2.0-litre, turbocharged 4-cylinder engine developing 241 horsepower and 273 lb-ft of torque.

The VW Golf R, on the other hand, boosts its output to 315 horsepower, a gain of 27 hp over the previous version. This figure makes it the most powerful Golf ever to leave the factory, and its acceleration from 0 to 100 km/h 4.7 seconds is proof of that.

But it's not just the horsepower that's increasing, it's also the torque, which goes from 290 to 310 lb-ft, and rejoice, the 6-speed manual transmission remains on the menu, as does the 7-speed dual-clutch DSG transmission, both of which are also available on the 2021 VW Golf GTI. You may not have known it, but 40% of Golf buyers prefer the manual transmission, which is not at all surprising, considering its tremendous efficiency and the fun it provides.

three quarter front view of the 2022 Volkswagen Golf R driven on a race track
Action shot of the 2022 Volkswagen Golf R on a race track
three quarter front view of the 2021 Volkswagen Golf GTI driven on a road
The 2021 Volkswagen Golf GTI out for a joy ride

Golf R vs GTI: On the track

To enhance your driving experience, the Golf R offers a variety of driving modes, including Comfort, Sport, Race and Individual, in addition to Drift and Special. The latter enhances performance to the max and Drift, of course, allows you to promote rear end sliding on the track. The GTI also offers a driving mode selector that directly affects engine responsiveness, suspension, steering and stability. Also, only the 2022 Golf R can enjoy the 4MOTION All-Wheel Drive.

To tame this performance beast, the Golf R gets larger 14.1-inch brakes, and its chassis has been redesigned from top to bottom, along with the drive system. More lightweight than before, its suspension is 10 percent stiffer and its dynamics have been improved for better handling and grip. The Golf GTI also receives some modifications, such as an aluminum subframe as well as reconfigured springs and dampers; the result is better precision and maximum stability.

close-up view of the wheel and brake on the 2022 Volkswagen Golf R
The brake pad on the 2022 Volkswagen Golf R with the signature blue
close-up view of the rim and brake on the 2021 Volkswagen Golf GTI
The rim and brake pad of the 2021 Volkswagen Golf GTI with the eye catching red

2022 Golf R vs 2021 GTI: Interior

The interior of the Golf GTI puts the emphasis on red with red stitching on the console, on the checkered upholstery, in truly stunning shades of black, gray and red. Heated and ventilated perforated leather seats are optional, as well as a heated steering wheel as standard. There's also a premium harman/kardon sound system and an ambient lighting system that offers no less than 30 different colours on the dashboard and doors, in addition to the GTI mode that emphasizes the interior's highlights.

The 2022 Golf R's preferred color is blue, which is found on the brake calipers, and on trim inserts throughout the cabin, on the steering wheel, the console and the sport seats. Matte chrome side skirts and mirror housings complete the exterior look. The 2022 Golf R will only be offered in one version, but you'll have the choice of a manual or automatic transmission as well as an optional power sunroof.

View of the front row seat and dashbord inside of the 2022 Volkswagen Golf R
The living space inside the 2022 Golf R
view of the front row seats, dashboard and sunroof inside of the 2021 Volkswagen Golf GTI
The living space inside the 2021 Golf GTI with the sunroof

Golf R vs Golf GTI: Which one do you choose?

All that's left is to choose between the 2022 VW Golf R vs. the 2021 VW Golf GTI, which I must admit, is hard, because both are absolutely spectacular and promise exceptional driving dynamics. The release dates for each will be in the 3rd quarter of 2021 as 2022 models, at your Arbour VW dealer in Laval, close to Blainville and Boisbriand on the North Shore of Montreal, and we'll know the prices as we get closer to their release.

Close-up view of the headlight and logo on the 2022 Volkswagen Golf R
the Logo and headlight on the 2022 Golf R
Close-up view of the headlight on the 2021 Volkswagen Golf GTI
the headlight on the 2021 Golf GTI
Model Engine Power Torque
Golf GTI 2.0L 4-cyl. turbo 241 hp 273 lb-ft
Golf R 2.0L 4-cyl. turbo 315 hp 310 lb-ft