2022 VW Golf GTI Golf R 7

Merging Performance & Connectivity: Inside The New Digital Cockpit of The Volkswagen Golf GTI & Golf R

  • This article originally appeared on AutoVision News. It has been republished with permission.

The VW Mk 8 Golf GTI and Golf R may be smaller cars, but buyers can expect big things from both the engine bay and inside the cabin. According to VW, the new electronic architecture that underpins the Golf GTI and Golf R enables a “digitally networked” world of interior displays and controls that drivers can customize accordingly. And this network of personalized displays and connectivity features brings out the unique performance-oriented attributes of the new VW Golf GTI and Golf R.

Mk 8 Golf GTI & Golf R: Quick Overview

The Golf GTI and Golf R represent the eighth generation of the now-iconic Golf nameplate (hence the “Mk 8” terminology). Earlier in 2021, VW announced it would cease Golf production for the United States market after nearly 50 years. As a result of the phase-out, the Golf comes in just one trim level, the TSI, for 2021. Advanced safety features on the lone model include Forward Collision Warning and Autonomous Emergency Braking with Pedestrian Monitoring (Front Assist), blind-spot monitoring, and Rear Traffic Alert.

With the traditional Golf on its way out, VW is making room for the sportier and more feature-packed Golf GTI and Golf R. “Each member of our team is aware of the responsibility on their shoulders when developing a new Golf,” explained Klaus Bischoff, Head of Volkswagen Group Design and the Volkswagen brand’s Design department. “Evolving an icon like this is an enormous challenge but also the most exciting thing that can happen to you as a designer.”

Golf GTI

Under the hood of the new Golf GTI is a 2.0-liter TSI turbo four-cylinder that produces 242 horsepower and 273 lb-ft. of torque. A six-speed manual transmission is standard, while a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic is available. New suspension configurations (springs, bump stops, control arm bearings), a progressive variable-rate steering system, and a VAQ limited-slip front differential increase ride and handling capability for the front-wheel drive GTI.

Golf R

By contrast, the all-wheel drive Golf R is even more performance-oriented with its EA888 2.0-liter turbo four-cylinder. The engine creates 315 horsepower and 310 lb-ft. of torque and features an electronic coolant regulator and variable valve timing on both the intake and exhaust cams. Drive modes include Comfort, Sport, Race, Nürburgring (Special), and Drift.

New Standards of Performance?

VW’s new digital interior shows that performance, in an automotive context, isn’t limited to the engine, transmission, or suspension (which is how the phrase is generally used). Instead, VW’s digital interior shows that connectivity features within the vehicle must also meet a specific performance (and personalization) standard for a new generation of buyers. Designers and engineers at VW worked to ensure the digital experience begins the moment the doors are opened and that any such experience would fully support the sporty driving dynamics of both the Golf GTI and Golf R.

For example, when drivers tap the push-button start (which gives off a red pulse), VW’s Digital Cockpit Pro instrument cluster and infotainment screens immediately come to life. The 10.25-inch Digital Cockpit Pro syncs automatically with the infotainment system, allowing drivers to tailor the information they want to see. This can include everything from vehicle status and driving data to phone information and driver assistance features. VW models equipped with the Discover Pro infotainment system with navigation can display a full-screen map in the digital cluster and simultaneously on the 10-inch center display.

Driver Centric Controls

The Golf GTI and Golf R have a new view button on the steering wheel. By pressing this, drivers can see the rev counter (with either a GTI or R logo in the center), flanked by two additional and customizable instruments, showing the engine’s boost pressure or current power output. On the Golf R steering wheel specifically, the R button activates a menu with various driving profiles. A more forceful press of the R button activates Race mode.

The Golf R goes even a step farther with an exclusive feature called R-View, which VW describes as a “3D-look with numerical fields.” A horizontal rpm counter, ranging from zero to eight, appears at the top edge of the driver’s display. This display helps provide visible shift recommendations for the track-only Special and Drift modes when the manual DSG mode is activated. Additionally, the Digital Cockpit in the Golf R can display the boost pressure, transmission temperature, and torque distribution of the all-wheel drive system. Drivers can also view a G-meter and a lap timer while at the track.

Quick access to safety, comfort, and convenience features are paramount in VW’s new digital interior. For example, the exterior lights and defrost functions reside on a digital panel just to the left of the steering wheel; touch sliders control the air conditioner, audio volume, and sunroof. A Travel Assist button on the steering wheel will engage the partially-automated hands-on driving system of the same name.


According to VW, the first U.S. deliveries of the Golf R will arrive in late 2021. The 2021 VW Golf GTI is available now with a starting MSRP of $28,695. This free and easy search tool* will help you see which VW dealers in your area offer the best price on a new Golf GTI.

Photos & Source: Volkswagen of America, Inc.

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