The vaunted Golf R; the pinnacle of performance for VW’s humble hatchback. For the enthusiast crowd, the allure of a speedy little 5-door hasn’t wavered which is why Volkswagen is leaving the base Golf off of their American car menu and instead is exclusively importing the GTI and Golf R; the models the drivers want. And this all-new Mk8 keeps to the Golf R’s tenets of being fast, glued to the road, fun-to-drive and within financial reach of mere mortals. Don’t worry manual lovers; a 6-speed is still available but this DSG automatic-equipped Golf R with all of its features as standard carries an MSRP of $45,885. It only comes in 3 colors and if you’re shift-for-yourself curious the stick costs $800 less, delivers 15 fewer pound-feet of torque and loses 3mpg. This Golf R is so good at what it does I sometimes feel like I’m just along for the ride. Either way we should all be glad that VW hasn’t abandoned this car – a nice counterpoint to the EV revolution.
The Tiguan and Atlas now have a little brother. The 2022 Taos is a subcompact SUV though one that’s smartly packaged to maintain sizable interior proportions. Now, I’ve been running this little guy all over the place this week – through the mountains of New England, taking it on day trips, etc. and it’s clear: VW has yet another winner in their growing SUV stable.
The Taos is one of the most pleasant surprises to come across my test drive schedule this year. It performs far above its $33,000 as-tested price by exceeding expectations in nearly every area. The drive is spot-on VW with dynamic characteristics on par with the Golf. The Audi-like tech features have me double checking the sticker price and all of the intangibles just click; it looks good as you approach it, it’s accommodating to its passengers and the size is perfect for day trips and running errands. I’ve averaged over 32mpg on regular to boot though VW recommends using 91 octane to achieve the engine’s full power. If you don’t need the Tiguan’s bigger cargo area the Taos is a no-brainer. Even so, with the 2nd row seats folded flat and locked in place the Taos’ max cargo volume is nearly identical to that of the Tiguan’s. Where the Tiguan gains an advantage is cargo volume behind the 2nd row. And what if I told you this one actually has more rear seat legroom? I also love the shopping bag hooks back here which can each hold 5 pounds. Unlike in the Tiguan and Atlas there’s no R-Line available here so this SEL trim serves as the highest Taos example and everything you see here – other than the floor mats – comes standard for $33,185; that’s quite the attractive price when you consider all that the Taos is. The only notable option my tester doesn’t have is the $1,200 panoramic sunroof. And if you were thinking of adding a hitch the Taos is not designed for towing a trailer. But this SUV is a real delight. VW should sell a ton of these and it’s easy to see why.
The 2018 model year was significant for VW here in the States. That’s when they introduced the 1-2 punch of Atlas and this next-generation Tiguan that have quickly become the brand’s best-sellers with each of them individually outselling all of VW’s cars combined. And now for the 2022 model year, the Tiguan has been refreshed with updated styling and broader availability of tech and safety features.
You know what you don’t see much of in this small SUV segment? A 3rd row of seating. And you won’t find one in my Tiguan either…VW reserves it for the front-wheel drive model. But here I have the top trim SEL R-Line which comes standard with 4MOTION all-wheel drive, priced at $37,790. It’s incredibly easy to build this one as there are virtually no options and only 4 paint choices: white, black, blue and this charismatic gray. If this lavishly equipped Tiguan is too rich for your blood, the base S trim starts at $10k less. And this R-Line looks sharp, sporting a new front end with redesigned LEDs and this cool light line that runs through the grille. Out back, the Tiguan name now lives more prominently below the VW logo. And then you get the R-Line badges, specific bumpers, body-color side sills and newly designed 20” wheels. It just goes to show that a little nip and tuck can work wonders in freshening one’s appearance.
And then inside, this noisette leather looks very Audi-like – and by the way I had to look it up; noisette means a small piece of lean meat. New for 2022 are these touch-sensitive controls in the center stack which can also be summoned by voice commands triggered by simply saying “Hello Volkswagen” and then saying things such as I’m hot or my feet are cold. There are also steering wheel touch controls, 15 colors of ambient light choices and this redesigned navigation system which can be updated automatically with a paid subscription. Combined with this upsized Digital Cockpit Pro with 3 views, the Audi vibes are palpable …just don’t look for the satellite mapping here.
VW’s have their own distinctive driving persona and the Tiguan is no exception with great forward visibility including adaptive front lighting, a comfortable but Euro-tuned suspension with handling agility and an all-around driver connectedness. And IQ.DRIVE is VW’s name for their driver-assistance systems which include Park Assist, Road Sign Display, auto high beams and this overhead view camera which displays sideways…that I don’t care for and I can’t figure out how to change it. But the Adaptive Cruise Control system with Stop & Go and Lane Assist is not one of the better semi-autonomous setups on the market, reacting a little slowly, clumsy in its steering and offering very little hands-off time.
But I like this…VW has kept it fresh and feeling like the German-chic, sportier small SUV choice with bountiful spaciousness to boot.
The ID.4 is ready for primetime and is the genesis of VW’s all-electric intentions. The ID sub-brand is VW’s name for a family of electric cars that, at least in here in the U.S., is expected to spawn 2 new models over the next 3 years. It’s built upon a dedicated electric vehicle platform that VW calls Modular Electric Drive which essentially gives them one basis for every EV going forward. It closely possesses the passenger volume of VW’s Tiguan just in a smaller wrapper benefitting from the highly efficient EV packaging. It feels wide inside with adult-friendly and nicely sculpted rear seats and a foot-activated hatch that opens to more standard cargo room than VW’s new Taos compact SUV. With an agreeable lift over height, split fold rear seats, an adjustable cargo floor that can be lowered for a little more space or left as is to stow the charge cable, the ID.4 presents itself as a versatile errand companion with which owners will quickly connect. The car I have is the ID.4 1st Edition and it’s priced at $45,190 including destination…but before you run down to your VW dealer you should know that it’s already sold out. However, you can still build and reserve the ID.4 Pro online which is priced at $4,000 less. And if it’s an all-wheel drive ID.4 you’re after, those are coming later this year with a $3,680 premium attached. You can lease an ID.4 for $379/month and all trims qualify for the $7,500 Federal tax credit. The ID.4 is an impressive effort by VW and has proven to be worth the wait.
Volkswagen R is all about excitement and thrill.
The Jetta R-Line takes the model’s dramatic styling a step further, with sporty 17-inch wheels, a more aggressive rear bumper with stylized dual exhaust outlets, a gloss-black grille, black side mirror caps, and R-Line® badging.
R-Line models feature a 6.5-inch capacitive touchscreen display.
R-Line models receive a unique leather-wrapped, R-Line badged steering wheel.
The Jetta R-Line is equipped with 17-inch wheels paired with 205/55 R17 low-profile all-season tires and the XDS® Cross Differential System. The XDS system acts as an electronic substitute for a traditional mechanical limited-slip differential, actively monitoring data from each wheel sensor. If the suspension becomes unloaded, the system automatically applies braking to the driven inside wheel as needed to help reduce understeer (the tendency for the front wheels to run wide). This not only helps the R-Line’s stability, but can also help improve handling and cornering performance.
Every Jetta model offers standard Driver Personalization with up to four driver settings. Dependent on trim, customizable features include: driver seat memory, drive mode selection, driver assistance system preferences, climate control, Volkswagen Digital Cockpit arrangement, ambient lighting color, radio presets, navigation view, and more.