The Volkswagen GTI and even sportier Golf R have long been a favorite for a lot of sports car fans for decades. Well, maybe not quite decades yet for the Golf R but nevertheless these well balanced 2022 eighth gen daily driver rockets are a big breath of fun in an increasingly diminishing segment. 

I had the pleasure of straightening them out on the twisty mountain roads the locals refer to as “The Rattler” in Asheville, North Carolina recently, and it was probably in my top 3 trips of the last 20 years.

"This is the 2022 VW Golf R and I just did this same exact road in a GTI and right off the bat you notice a more firm suspension, steering has more heft to it, inputs are a little bit quicker as well. The extra power is nice but it's easy to wring enough power out of the GTI, where on a tight road like this you really don’t notice the power as much as you notice the steering and suspension." 

While both cars still offer a 6 speed manual, I’m not as on the fence over which trans I would choose like I was with the outgoing 7th gen car. The shifter knob has grown a bit larger than I'm used too and I prefer weightier throws with a heavier cluth feel. I don't mind the later two characteristics as much as I do the larger knob.

The DSG remains amazing, but I did notice some unpleasant exhaust drone between 65 and 70 miles-per-hour that I never did in the dozens of MK7’s that I’ve driven, but it does quiet down nice above 75 miles per hour with a sweet spot around 85…too bad that’s illegal. 

Performance aside, both cars are long haul comfortable with amazing visibility and perhaps borderline too much tech. Maybe I’m getting ancient, but haptic touch controls for the volume knob and even the sunroof take some getting used to. So many things to love about these two cars but my favorite are the cloth seats. Velcro-like grip with deep bolstering, firm comfort, and GTI signature plaid. The leather is okay, but the cloth seat should be in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. 

Pricing starts with the base GTI S manual at $29,545 with an SE mid level trim for just under $5,000 more. Top tier Autobahn starts at $37,995. And finally Golf R will set you back $43,645. Add a DSG 7-speed auto to any trim for $800 more plus $995 for freight.

There’s a lot to talk about with these 2 hot hatches and we’ll cover it all soon on MotorWeek.