2022 Volkswagen Golf R Wagon Review
Price & Equipment:8
Performance & Economy:9.5
Ride & Handling:8
Interior & Practicality:8
Service & Warranty:6
What we like:
  • Incredible performance from engine, gearbox and AWD system
  • Brilliant handling blended with decent ride comfort
  • Roomy interior, with a huge boot thanks to longer wheelbase than hatch
What we don't like:
  • Frustrating interior, marred by difficult to use infotainment system
  • Interior quality has taken a step back compared to Golfs of old, despite the huge price increases
  • Expensive servicing costs
7.9DiscoverAuto Review:

We came away rather impressed by the 2022 Volkswagen Golf R Hatch we tested a few months back, with its almost perfect blend of stunning performance and everyday liveability and practicality. Pricing and a sub-par interior aside, the 2022 Golf R continued to be the new ultimate Golf with its four exhaust pipes, four-wheel drive, and a tonne of fun on four wheels. All of this bodes well for the 2022 Volkswagen Golf R Wagon we tested here, which adds another layer of practicality to the hatch’s very solid underpinnings.

The wagon offers more boot space and rear seat space than the hatch, and to our eyes, looks just as good, if not cooler than the hatch. With Aussies buying so few wagons these days, the Golf R Wagon will be a rare sight on our roads, lending buyers a sense of exclusivity. Groovy! The 2022 Volkswagen Golf R Wagon is also the most expensive Golf ever, asking buyers to fork out substantially more money than before. So are the Golf R Wagon’s charms enough to satisfy the sensible motoring enthusiast? Let’s find out!

Price and Equipment: 8/10

Volkswagen has really made buyers pay quite the premium for the Golf R Wagon’s marriage of performance and practicality, with the 2022 Golf R Wagon priced at $68,990 plus on-road costs (or $3,000 more than the hatchback). Our test car also featured the optional Harman Kardon audio system ($1000), bringing the as-tested price to $69,990 plus on-road costs or just under $79,000 drive away in most of the country.

Last on sale in 2022, the previous generation Mk7.5 Golf R Wagon came in at only $57,990 plus on-roads, meaning that the new Golf R Wagon is $11,000 more, even before on-road costs are factored in. There’s no getting around it though, the Mk8 Golf R range, including the wagon, requires a substantial outlay of funds. On the flip side, Volkswagen has given the Golf wagon more power, much more tech, and made the car slightly bigger.

The 2022 Volkswagen Golf R comes well equipped with 19-inch alloy wheels, R-specific sports seats with 10-way electric adjustment and memory functionality for the driver, a rear spoiler, quad exhaust pipes, automatic all-LED lighting, auto wipers, Nappa leather upholstery with heated and ventilated front seats, a heated steering wheel, tri-zone climate control, a seven-speaker sound system, a 10-inch touchscreen with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android auto, satellite navigation, digital radio, a wireless phone charger, a 12.3-inch digital driver’s display, keyless entry and start, a powered rear tailgate, heated and auto-folding mirrors, rear privacy glass, selectable driving modes, LED interior ambient lighting with 30 colour choices and four USB-C charging ports.

Safety kit includes eight airbags, auto emergency braking (AEB) with pedestrian, cyclist and intersection assist, rear auto braking, Matrix adaptive high beam, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, lane keep assist with lane departure warning, lane trace assist, adaptive cruise control with stop and go functionality, automatic post-collision braking, driver attention monitoring, exit warning assist, a heads-up display, front and rear parking sensors, semi-automatic parking, a reversing camera and an alarm.

There are only two options for the Golf R: a $1,000 480W Harmon Kardon sound system and a $1,900 sunroof, which is panoramic, unlike the hatch’s equivalent. All paint options are no-cost, and include ‘Deep Black’, ‘Pure White’ and our test car’s ‘Lapiz Blue’. The only interior option is black Nappa leather with blue trim highlights.

We think the Golf R Wagon represents decent value for money in a market where cars continue to climb higher in pricing. Even though it’s expensive, it’s only $9,000 more than a fully optioned Golf GTI, the Golf R Wagon represents much more value over the smaller, slower and less practical Golf GTI.

The Golf R’s rivals include the Czech Skoda Octavia RS Wagon, priced at a lower $57,490 drive away. The Octavia actually offers a better interior to the Golf R’s, but its lack of AWD and a lower-powered tune of the same engine means it isn’t as swift in a straight line.

The Subaru WRX tS Wagon might offer AWD like the Golf R, but it is a much softer car, more suited to touring. It simply cannot match the Golf R’s performance in a straight line, nor the Golf’s poise and polish. Priced at $57,990 plus on-road costs, it does cost considerably less than the Golf.

Performance and Economy: 9.5/10

Interestingly, the engine under the bonnet of the Golf R Wagon is not the same as the engine as the one found in the hatch, or even the newly launched Tiguan R. Both of those get a 400Nm version of the now ubiquitous Volkswagen Group EA888 2.0-litre turbo four-cylinder engine without a petrol particulate filter (PPF).

The 2022 Volkswagen Golf R Wagon has a different tune of the same unit and features a PPF in the exhaust. The Golf R Wagon punches out a 235kW (5,200-6,000rpm) and 420Nm (2,000-5,500rpm) with power sent to all four wheels through Volkswagen’s 4Motion on-demand all-wheel drive system and the brand’s seven-speed DSG dual-clutch gearbox.

The 0-100km/h sprint for the Golf R Wagon takes just 4.9 seconds, or just 0.1s slower than the regular Golf R hatch. The 420Nm PPF-equipped engine should be arriving in the Golf R hatch any day now.

So how does the Golf R Wagon drive? It goes like the clappers, thanks to plenty of muscle under the bonnet. The AWD system is able to funnel the engine’s power to all four wheels meaning there are rarely any traction issues when asking for full acceleration, unlike say a Hyundai i30 N in the wet. The Golf R is very simply, biblically quick for a hatch with tons of go no matter what the situation.

The Golf R comes with a variety of drive modes, all handily selected using the “R” touch sensitive button on the steering wheel. In Comfort mode, the car slackens off its responses, with the automatic transmission going into what is obviously a mode for maximum economy. It pops into neutral every time the accelerator is released to coast and is unwilling to drop a gear when acceleration is demanded.

Flicking to one of the other drive modes shows that “Sport” is more like the “Normal” mode we’ve grown used to in other VWs and Race is akin to the harder “Sport” mode we’ve seen before in older VWs. In both Sport and Race, the entire nature of the Golf R wagon changes with impeccable throttle response and the feel we would have expected from the highest performance Golf on sale. The gear changes become urgent and aggressive as the DSG whips through each of them with precision. Yes, it might still stumble up steeper hills, but the DSG is an accomplished performer these days with riffle sharp gear changes when in manual mode or when left to its own devices.

The European tune and the more advanced exhaust of the Golf R Wagon over its hatchback sibling mean that its actually more efficient than the Golf R Hatch, with a claimed combined fuel consumption of figure of just 7.4L/100km (v 7.8L/100km). That’s a really impressive figure for a spacious performance wagon with tons of performance to boot. During our stint in the Victorian countryside, we saw that figure drop into the 6L/100km mark and in town the Golf R Wagon would use around 10L/100km when driven sedately. Premium 98 RON unleaded is a must in the Wagon due to the PPF.

Ride and Handling: 8/10

Show the Golf R Wagon a twisting road and it will cover ground faster than most hot hatches. It might weigh 82kg more than the Golf R Hatch, but unless both are driven back to back, you’d be hard-pressed to notice the wagon’s extra heft. Pushing the R wagon into corners is immensely rewarding, with sharp and oddly feelsome steering and an agile car willing to go where the driver points it.

The clever rear torque vectoring differential is all new, and allows more power to be sent to the rear which needs it the most. Getting on the power past the apex shows just how good the AWD system is in shuffling power around to each of the four wheels to slingshot the Golf R wagon out of corners. The R wagon rotates unlike any Golf we’ve seen before, with a beautiful balance through tight corners. The Hankook Ventus S1 Evo 3 tyres aren’t exactly the grippiest tyres we’ve seen however, meaning that the ESC does tend to intervene rather often to keep the wagon’s tail happy nature in check. Having said this, we can’t remember the last time we had this much fun in a wagon (or an SUV!).

We love that the Golf R Wagon is also really liveable day to day. In the softest suspension settings, it feels like slightly harder sprung Golf, with a slightly firm edge to a really pliant ride. It goes over patchy roads very well for a performance car, and feels reasonably comfortable. A word of warning however on faster country roads – you’ll want to dodge potholes like your life depends on it, the Golf R Wagon does not have much suspension travel and we suspect you might break a few alloys if you encounter larger hits at speed.

Refinement is also decent for a performance model, with hushed wind noise inside at faster speeds and a quiet ride around town. On course chip surfaces the R wagon is rather loud sadly, with plenty of tyre roar entering the cabin.

The Golf’s driver assistance features worked really well both around town and in the country. The snazzy “IQ-Light” front lighting system is class-leading, lighting pitch-black country roads to give crystal clear vision for hundreds of metres and around corners too. For those who haven’t experienced the system’s ability to “block-out” the high beam from cars around you is simply magic. The lane assist with lane entering works well and unobtrusively but we did experience a phantom emergency braking when reversing once. We thought we had hit something, but instead it was the Golf deciding to grind us to a halt. Visibility is excellent in the wagon with tonnes of glass around you to see out, although we do wish the rear camera was a little better quality – or even a 360-degree unit for this price.

Interior and Practicality: 8/10

Things get complicated here. In a nutshell, the Golf’s interior is good, very practical and decently well put together. We won’t argue either with that the Golf is loaded with tonnes of new tech inside, with its minimalist design, large and crisp screens and colour heads-up display. We will argue however, is that Volkswagen has cut some cost out of the interior, making what could be an exceptional car with an impeccable interior into an initially frustrating place to spend time in.

Previous Golf owners have always enjoyed plusher than average interiors. Take the two previous Golfs – the Mk6 and Mk7 which felt like almost baby Benz inside with their soft touch plastics, felt-lined and chilled gloveboxes, plush carpets and headliners and plenty surprise and delight features. In the Mk8 Golf, while the big and impressive screens look good at first glance, dig a little deeper and the interior starts to unravel.

The plastics feel closer to the Polo than Golfs of old, and while the clean interior lines look good, the interior feels bland with fake carbon-fibre inserts and the massive expanses of gloss black around the screens. At around $80,000 on the road, the interior is disappointing.

Owners of older Golfs will miss other things in the interior too – there’s no little cubby under the headlight controls, the damped storage lid ahead of the shifter and the sliding cover over the cupholders are all missing along with an unlined, non-cooled glovebox.

The infotainment system’s saving grace is the quality of the screen, which is well lit and high quality. Animations are smooth and slick but there’s no volume control knob, which is fine as there is a touch based slider under the screen. Trouble is, this is where you rest your hand when using the screen meaning you’ll accidental change your volume when using the screen. It’s also unlit at night. While you would get used to all of this, it’s still frustrating compared to the simple and highly ergonomic interiors of Golfs gone by. Thankfully, the optional Harman Kardon sound system is excellent – definitely tick that box.

The temperature controls are also underneath the screen and not lit at night. The climate control settings are buried in the system, needing a few prods of the screen to set your ideal climate inside.

But enough about the Mk8 Golf interior’s downsides as there’s still plenty to like. The ergonomics of the seats are spot on with tonnes of adjustment and impeccable comfort. The glovebox is relatively large and the big door bins can hold even larger bottles.

The 2022 Volkswagen Golf R Wagon is also much longer than the five-door hatch model. Measuring 4,644mm (up 354mm on the hatch), it rides on a longer wheelbase than the hatch too (2,681mm – up 50mm). This gives the R Wagon much more interior space than the R Hatch, with lots of space for all five occupants. Back seat passengers get their own climate zone with air vents, an armrest and two USB-C ports. But heated seats and window shades (like on an Octavia RS)? Nope.

The Golf R Wagon also adds a whopping 237-litres of volume to the hatch’s boot for a maximum capacity of 611L (and 1,642L with the rear seats folded), making it the most practical Golf ever. The boot is well shaped, super long and wide making it ideal for transporting anything life throws at you. The Golf R Wagon might not have any spare wheel under the boot floor due to the AWD system and the subwoofer, but the added space of the wagon over the hatch truly makes the Golf R Wagon the performance Golf to get.

Service and Warranty: 6/10

As with other Volkswagen products, the 2022 Volkswagen Golf R Wagon comes with a five-year/unlimited km warranty with 12 months of roadside assistance. Service intervals are once yearly/every 12 months and five years/75,000km of servicing costs a rather expensive $3,813 ($762 per service), while choosing a pre-paid service plan at the time of purchase for the same duration costs $3,000 ($600 per service).

Most rivals offer a similar warranty – five years with unlimited mileage such as Subaru with their WRX Sportswagon, while the Skoda Octavia RS comes with an excellent seven-year warranty. Servicing the WRX Sportswagon is much cheaper than the Golf R Wagin, with the five year/75,000km cost coming in at $2,366 (or $475 per service). The cost of servicing the Octavia RS over the span of five years/75,000km is $3,071, which is also not cheap at $614.20 per service. Skoda does however offer a service plans that can be bought at the time of purchase – a five-year/75,000km service plan will set buyers back $2,000 ($400 per service), much less than the mechanically similar, but AWD Golf R Wagon.

2022 Volkswagen Golf R Wagon DiscoverAuto Rating: 7.9/10

Much like the rest of the Mk8 Golf range, the 2022 Volkswagen Golf R Wagon leaves us a little torn. With its higher pricing and frustrating interior, it is far from perfect. But it is incredibly quick, well-equipped and drives brilliantly. Add in a decent dollop of roominess and stellar boot over the hatch, and the Golf R Wagon is an impressive machine.

2022 VW Golf R Wagon rear

The bottom line is that this car offers an incredible mix of practicality and performance, and for that we need to commend it. Yes, it’s pricing is oh so close to premium rivals such as the Audi S3 Sportback, being only $1,710 cheaper than the Audi (without options ticked on the Audi), but the Golf R Wagon is truly a car which can be used on the school run and will easily do laps on your favourite racetrack.

It’s also very likely to be the last Golf R Wagon to roll off the production line, before Volkswagen commits to an electrified future. Those after a performance wagon should get in line to order one, before the Golf and the performance R range, are consigned to the history books.

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