Meet the Mk8: Volkswagen Launches Next GTI, Golf R at 2021 Chicago Auto Show
Volkswagen’s base Golf may be dead, at least in America, but the performance-oriented GTI and Golf R are on their way to pick up the slack.
The 2022 Volkswagen GTI and Golf R have been unveiled in the flesh (or sheetmetal, as it were) at the 2021 Chicago Auto Show.
The Mk8 cars look promising on paper. The GTI is priced from $29,545 and comes in S, SE, and Autobahn trims while the Golf R will be available in just one trim — one that VW claims is “fully loaded” — and start at $43,645.
Both cars use a 2.0-liter turbo four-cylinder, and it makes 241 horsepower (an increase of 13) and 273 lb-ft of torque in the GTI, when run on premium fuel. The Golf R has 315 horsepower, an increase of 27, and 295 lb-ft of torque (280 with the standard manual transmission). Both cars are available with either a six-speed manual gearbox or a seven-speed DSG automatic. All-wheel drive remains standard on the Golf R.
The cars are slightly longer than before, with sharper hood raking, LED headlights, and an available light bar for the grille. The GTI gets X-shaped fog lamps and new wheel designs, a red grille line, red brake calipers, and dual exhaust tips. Plaid seats remain standard, and the manual transmission’s shift knob remains golf-ball style.
The Golf R gets a blue grille line and blue brake calipers, a new wheel design, front and rear bumpers and diffusers that are more aggressive than that of the GTI, a two-piece rear spoiler, body-colored side sill extensions, and a quad-tipped exhaust system.
Although each car gains a bit in length, wheelbases remain the same as before for each.
Adaptive damping is available, and the GTI is standard with an electronically controlled limited-slip differential. VW claims its system can vary intervention to avoid “steering corruption” (read: Torque steer) and can also work to reduce understeer.
The Golf R gets rear-axle torque vectoring, and the car’s rear differential has dual multi-plate clutches as part of a system that can distribute 100 percent of the rear torque to either individual rear wheel. Distributing power to the outer rear wheel while cornering can reduce the cornering radius.
Inside, a digital cockpit is standard, and some of the controls are operated via “touch panels” (we believe this is PR-speak for haptic touch). If you opt for navigation, the map can be displayed in the cluster. Available features include navigation, infotainment, sunroof, and head-up display.
Driver-assistance tech includes the ability for semi-autonomous driving using radar, ultrasound sensors, and cameras. Other driver-assistance tech includes travel assist (semi-automated driving assist), front assist (forward-collision warning and autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian and cyclist monitoring), blind-spot monitoring, adaptive cruise control, rear-traffic alert, lane assist (lane-keeping assist), emergency assist, high-beam assist, park assist with park-distance control, adaptive front lighting, and road-sign display.
Other available features on GTI include push-button start, rain-sensing wipers, Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, USB ports, keyless entry, leather seats, satellite radio, heated front seats, cooled front seats, heated rear seats, premium audio, tri-zone climate control, and 18- or 19-inch wheels.
Available features on the Golf R not already mentioned include cross-drilled brake rotors, sunroof, keyless entry and starting, stop/start, heated steering wheel, leather seats, heated and cooled front seats, heated rear seats, tri-zone climate control, rain-sensing wipers, premium audio, navigation, satellite radio, wireless device charging, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto.
The Mk8 cars arrive in the fourth quarter of this year.
[Images © 2021 Tim Healey/TTAC, Volkswagen]