The hottest hot hatch

The 2022 Golf R: VW gets its latest ‘R’ version just right

The new Golf R hits all the right notes.

Volkswagen

Goldilocks might say the updated 2022 Volkswagen Golf R is “just right”. We agree and say it’s a wolf in sheep’s clothing! While the looks of this all-wheel-drive are somewhat understated, the performance isn’t. The quasi-supercar wears the performance halo in VW’s Golf stable; it has come from Wolfsburg slotting within the eighth-generation GTI lineup and benefits from a new engine, new vehicle dynamics settings and new driving modes. Borrowing DNA from VW’s heralded Mk8 Golf GTI, the R is available in one well-appointed trim only but can be ordered with a six-speed manual or a seven-speed DSG transmission.

2022 Volkswagen Golf RAll-wheel drive is standard.Volkswagen

Hot hatches are back in vogue, despite the popularity of trucks and SUVs. The new Golf R has been on hiatus since 2019; it will compete with the Honda Civic Type R and the Hyundai Veloster N, among others. It is priced at $43,645 for the manual and $44,445 for the automatic (plus $995 destination) and comes painted in Deep Black Pearl, Lapiz Blue Metallic or Pure White. It’s on sale now and can be ordered with an optional Performance Package.

Although the R shares its upgraded interior and technology with the new GTI, this slick runabout extracts more power from the 2.0-liter inline four-cylinder turbocharged engine and boasts some exclusive items onboard. The R’s manual and automatic versions both get 315 horsepower while the manual cruises with 280 lb.-ft. of torque and the dual-clutch auto gets 295.

2022 Volkswagen Golf RVW made significant tech improvements to all vehicles for 2022. Volkswagen

Outside, a new grille and lighting elements accentuate the front end of the four-door hatchback that has been freshened with a more muscular look, race-inspired styling cues and side air intakes that assist as channels to add cool air. A blue strip highlights the upper grille, that is crafted atop an illuminated LED strip; these strips stretch outward from the VW logo into the fender via the Daytime Running Lights (DRLs) giving an attractive and appealing persona along with the LED light strip and standard LED headlights that help to provide good lighting. A R badge punctuates the right side.

The Golf R gets standard 19-inch black machined aluminum-alloy wheels, with blue brake calipers and the R logo on top. R-exclusive body-color sill extensions add flair while other exterior trim elements include matte aluminum-treated exterior mirror caps; mirror housings also provide LED projected R logos onto the ground when opening and closing the front doors. In back, R-specific design cues include the new bumper with a splitter, the high-gloss black diffuser, a quad-tipped exhaust system, and standard LED taillight clusters.

2022 Volkswagen Golf RThe R's cabin is tech-filled and upscale.Volkswagen

Inside the premium cabin is blue detailing throughout and a unique new multifunction perforated leather sport steering wheel, with R-specific paddle-shifters for DSG-equipped models, with blue stitching and an “R” wheel clip. The front sport seats have integrated head restraints and blue R logos and the center panels are covered with perforated Titan Black Nappa leather. The dash and doors sport carbon-look elements.

The controls have been updated with touch buttons, sliders and screens. The standard 10.25-inch Digital Cockpit Pro offers exclusive features such as a new, horizontal engine speed display at the upper edge, as well as a lap timer. A head-up display digitally projects onto the windshield and the MIB3 Discover Pro infotainment system can display a full-screen map in the digital cluster and simultaneously on the 10-inch center display. Thirty-color ambient lighting comes standard on the Golf R. Other features include stainless-steel pedals and more carbon-look trim on the dashboard, charging ports, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and Wi-fi hotspot. Of note is more cargo space than expected and a comfortable back seat.

We drove the new Golf R in the Ashville, North Carolina environs along a series of backcountry roads that serpentine through the picturesque Blue Ridge Mountains. Notable was the on-tap torque available with both transmissions; our favorite was the long-throw six-speed that has a well-notched gear box, however we also loved the dual clutch tranny that takes care of the business of up- and down-shifts and even “blips” the throttle for seamless shifts. Our motoring was on dry, paved roads, so there was little-to-no opportunity to assess the intelligent AWD that can send 50 percent of the power to the back, with its rear, cross-axel torque-vectoring differential, but we can report that the R has a well-balanced adaptive chassis, responsive suspension and holds tight corners at high speeds with nary a wiggle.

2022 Volkswagen Golf RThe Golf R will go on sale soon.Volkswagen

Selectable drive modes (Comfort, Sport, Race, Special, Drift, and Individual) can be activated by pressing an "R" button and hold appeal for many buyers in this class, who will also enjoy the standard sport exhaust, variable-ratio steering, bigger front disc brakes, and summer tires. Standard IQ.DRIVE driver assistance technology brings Adaptive Cruise Control with semiautonomous driving mode, Forward Collision Warning, Lane Assist, Travel Assist and Emergency Assist (on the DSG version only).

The EPA has estimated 23 mpg city/30 mpg fuel economy highway for the automatic and 20/28 with the manual.

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The N Line forms a midpoint between the standard Kona and the Kona N.

Hyundai

Hyundai has a lot going on, with new EVs hitting the market, but the brand has been on a surprising run with performance models lately. The Veloster N is an excellent, rowdy hot hatch, and the brand followed that act with the Kona N and Elantra N. Hyundai’s Kona N takes the hot hatch formula to the next level with an incredible powertrain and useful space, but it’s too much for many people. The mid-point is Hyundai’s N Line, which borrows styling cues from the hottest N variants but lacks the all-out grunt of those vehicles.

2022 Hyundai Kona N LineThe N Line gets aggressive styling cues from its sportier N counterpart. Hyundai

The styling works for the Kona N Line, as it does with the Kona N, but the powertrains couldn’t be more different. Where the Kona N gets a 286-horsepower four-cylinder, the N Line comes with a milder turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 195 horsepower and 195 pound-feet of torque. It’s paired with a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission, which adds a layer of engagement not found in the continuously variable transmission that standard Kona models get.

That modest output lends the Kona N Line modest performance, with more noise generated than expected. In motion, the powertrain feels decently responsive, but it lacks the razor sharp nerves of steel that the Kona N brings. Shifting into sport mode changes the gauge cluster to a bright red and hastens the vehicle's responses, but again, it's important to temper expectations for a milder experience here.

2022 Hyundai Kona N LineThe digital gauge cluster responds to drive mode changes. Hyundai

Styling is more aggressive than the standard SUV, with 18-inch wheels and mean-looking exhaust tips. The Kona’s front-end design is still busy and will still be polarizing, but the dark trim and sporty aero bodywork help the situation. The N Line’s all-black interior gets red stitching and accents that help break up the otherwise monotonous color scheme. The seats are supportive and comfortable, but could be deeper for better body-holding during spirited driving sessions. There’s plenty of room up front and a surprising amount of space in back, aided by the Kona’s large-ish rear door openings. Parents will find an easy time loading kids, and older children can ride in relative luxury with plenty of legroom.

A 10.25-inch digital gauge cluster is standard, which offers configurable colors and legible information. It’s paired with a standard 8-inch touchscreen, but a 102.5-inch screen with navigation is available. Hyundai’s excellent infotainment software runs flawlessly on both units, and offers an intuitive and straightforward way to interact with the vehicle. A Harman Kardon eight-speaker stereo also comes standard.

2022 Hyundai Kona N LineRed accents liven what is otherwise a dark, monotone interior.Hyundai

The Kona N Line, while not as hot as the Kona N, offers a reasonable styling upgrade for people wanting a small SUV with sporty looks. Enthusiasts should look at the full-on N model for thrills, though, because the N Line should be viewed as more of an appearance package than a performance model.

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This gorgeous 911 sports a rebuilt title.

Cars and Bids

Values of even less desirable Porsche 911 models have skyrocketed in recent years, but the early- to mid-1990s cars have always been special. This one falls well within the parameters, though it's got a backstory that will turn many buyers away. This 1991 Porsche 911 has a rebuilt Texas title, and as one commenter noted, the issue could be the result of a collision with a deer.

Rebuilt title or not, this car's quite the looker. It wears Grand Prix White over black leather, and it feature power windows and exterior mirrors, a sunroof, and a unique Turbo body kit. It has been modified, although lightly, with 18-inch wheels, power front seats, and a new stereo system. Under the rear engine cover lies a turbocharged 3.3-liter flat-six that makes 315 horsepower. It's connected to the rear wheels via a five-speed manual transmission.

1991 Porsche 911This is one of the most iconic sports car silhouettes ever.Cars and Bids

This car's apparently flaw-free appearance hides the rather nasty fact that it has a rebuilt title. A detail-oriented commenter on the auction mentioned finding information on the car's damage, including repairs performed after a collision with a deer and subsequent hair removal. We'll let you decide how that impacts your feelings on the car.

1991 Porsche 911The interior looks untouched, though those are replacement seats.Cars and Bids

If it's any indication of how valuable a good condition example of this car would be, it was bid to $95,000 with a rebuilt title and still didn't meet the reserve price. While it's a bummer for those hoping their bid would be the one, cars like this do occasionally pop up without deer damage, so it's worth keeping your eyes open.

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