Review: CKD 2022 Volkswagen Golf GTI – Is she still the girl that can do both?

Dinesh · Mar 24, 2022 01:28 PM

Review: CKD 2022 Volkswagen Golf GTI – Is she still the girl that can do both? 01

  • CKD means the Mk8 is almost RM 30k cheaper, meaning a no brainer on its own
  • Quicker but not funner
  • Clumsy integrated cabin controls can shorten your lifespan

Review: CKD 2022 Volkswagen Golf GTI – Is she still the girl that can do both? 02

You’ve all seen the memes extolling the virtues to “Get you a girl that can do both.” You know what we mean. It’s those memes with a girl that can pull off going from looking like one of the dudes to a total 10 on the sexual scale. She’s cool to hangout with your guy friends and even blends in but can transform into a stunner for when those white-tie events come-a-calling. That’s always been the Volkswagen Golf GTI’s forte as well.

Review: CKD 2022 Volkswagen Golf GTI – Is she still the girl that can do both? 03

It's difficult to tell without a side-by-side look but the Mk8 is much larger than the Mk7.5.

The iconic hot hatch etched its nameplate in the annals of performance cars with its unparalleled dual-purpose capabilities. Quick on the canyons and loads of fun to toss around the twisties, it was perfectly at home doing the school run or ferrying the family on a daily basis.

Review: CKD 2022 Volkswagen Golf GTI – Is she still the girl that can do both? 01

No Matrix LEDs but it's still a very recognisable light signature.

That’s the Golf GTI for you. It wouldn’t look out of place at a weekend touge drive session up Ulu Yam nor would it stick out like a sore thumb in the car park of your office or the valet parking at a high-end hotel.

Review: CKD 2022 Volkswagen Golf GTI – Is she still the girl that can do both? 02

Timid with the kids in the back but a terror with a sweeping corner up ahead, there wasn’t anything quite like it in that price bracket that could serve unwaveringly as the weekend plaything as well as the weekday runabout.

Review: CKD 2022 Volkswagen Golf GTI – Is she still the girl that can do both? 03

We're huge fans of the 18-inch Richmond wheels.

Unfortunately though, for every jack of all trades, you’ll eventually end up mastering one a little more. Be it by design or unintentional consequence, it’s nigh impossible to maintain that perfect balance between both ends of the spectrum forever.

Also Read: CKD 2022 VW Golf Mk8, Golf GTI to launch in Malaysia later this month

That’s precisely the conundrum we find ourselves in with the all-new 2022 Mk8 Golf GTI. In this new iteration, you’d be hard pressed in ignoring its pronounced skewing towards one end of that spectrum and it isn’t the one that you’ll like.

Review: CKD 2022 Volkswagen Golf GTI – Is she still the girl that can do both? 04

Exterior

You might find the word “sleeker” tossed around like the village bicycle by the motoring media when narrating the appearance of new cars. Believe us, it’s not that our employers won’t splurge for a thesaurus in the office but most modern cars just keep getting sharper front facades.

Also Read: CKD 2022 VW Golf GTI Mk8 launched in Malaysia, priced from RM 212k, 245 PS and 370 Nm

Does that automatically translate into better looks in the eyes of buyers? Who knows? It’s just our duty to tell you what we think it looks like and the MK8 Golf GTI looks sleeker.

Review: CKD 2022 Volkswagen Golf GTI – Is she still the girl that can do both? 05

Literally, the headlights and taillights are slimmer although its heavily contrasted by the larger grille and rear diffuser. Lighting itself is a full LED with sequential indicators at the rear. We’re usually not fans of a unibrow but the LED unibrow on the front grille of Mk8 Golf GTI that links the headlights is a distinguished touch and one that’ll be instantly recognisable if you catch it in your rear-view mirror.

Review: CKD 2022 Volkswagen Golf GTI – Is she still the girl that can do both? 06

Some might argue the curvier front end lacks the aggression expected of a GTI as opposed to the more angular face of the Mk7.5. It’s akin to comparing the blunt finish of a club against the sharp edge of a spear; one aims to clobber while the other is a precision tool for accurate damage but fortunately the only thing getting hurt on this occasion are the eyes.

Review: CKD 2022 Volkswagen Golf GTI – Is she still the girl that can do both? 07

Well balanced proportions do well to hide the larger dimensions of the new model. It’s longer and taller but narrower than its predecessor. The wheelbase is a negligible 1mm longer although all that added dimensions adds up to it being over 100kg heavier.

Review: CKD 2022 Volkswagen Golf GTI – Is she still the girl that can do both? 08

Real exhaust tips helped us sleep better at night.

We’re huge fans of those wheels but it perplexes us that the side-view mirrors aren’t foldable; not even manually.

Review: CKD 2022 Volkswagen Golf GTI – Is she still the girl that can do both? 09

However, the lack of foldability for the side-view mirrors kept us up all night.

Interior

While the physically larger might be disguised behind the shroud of good design, the interior is easily noticeable as much more generous in terms of space. Legroom in the rear grows by a large margin and that nub of a gear knob goes a long way in lending an airy ambience to the front.

Review: CKD 2022 Volkswagen Golf GTI – Is she still the girl that can do both? 10

Uncluttered is good until you realise they swept the mess under the rug.

Form should always follow function but both are a little lacking here. While the overall layout is catchy, the positioning of the central air-conditioning vents and the materials leaves plenty to be desired. If you can't make it feel nice, a consolation can be to make it appear nice and they've fallen just a little short in both departments here.

Review: CKD 2022 Volkswagen Golf GTI – Is she still the girl that can do both? 11

The triple-colour combo on the interior somehow works well together.

However, in an unwarranted attempt at mimicking the uncluttered dash of some brands, Volkswagen has royally effed up. There’s an art to decluttering; just ask Marie Kondo. Volvo and Mazda appeared to have consulted her but Volkswagen went a step too far.

Review: CKD 2022 Volkswagen Golf GTI – Is she still the girl that can do both? 12

The larger dimensions translates into more rear legroom.

The manner in which Volkswagen integrated almost all functions into the 10-inch Discover Media touchscreen head unit leaves plenty of head scratching to be desired. The basics of audio and climate controls should be easily accessible. In the Mk8, it simply isn’t.

Review: CKD 2022 Volkswagen Golf GTI – Is she still the girl that can do both? 13

To access the climate controls, you’ll always have to hit the “Clima” tile below the screen. They might have thought themselves smart by integrating touch buttons for the front temperature and the audio volume beneath the screen but they forgot to light it, meaning at night you’ll be fumbling to make it warmer and end up cranking up the volume of Taylor Swift on the radio. Not ideal.

Review: CKD 2022 Volkswagen Golf GTI – Is she still the girl that can do both? 14

No tiptronic for you. It's the paddle shifters or bust.

Perhaps given enough time; as owners obviously will, the functions will be second nature but on an intuitive scale for someone that’s just jumped in, it’s a nightmare. Occasionally, the system lagged a little on start up as well. And don’t ask us how to deactivate the ESC, Google it for a laugh if you have the time.

Review: CKD 2022 Volkswagen Golf GTI – Is she still the girl that can do both? 15

Nobody would complain if more carmakers adopted these rear pockets.

It’s saving grace comes in the form of wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay though it might be an exercise in futility.

Review: CKD 2022 Volkswagen Golf GTI – Is she still the girl that can do both? 16

Probably the layout you'll be using the most.

Engine + Transmission

For all of the balls they dropped with the interior’s integrated functions, Wolfsburg was smart enough to not mess with the engine. The engineers coaxed out an additional 15 PS and 20 Nm of torque from the familiar 2.0-litre turbo four-banger.

Review: CKD 2022 Volkswagen Golf GTI – Is she still the girl that can do both? 17

That brings the total output now to a very mouth-watering 245 PS and 370 Nm of torque. With an extra cog in the seven-speed wet clutch DSG, those front wheels translate the extra oomph into something very tangible behind the wheel.

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An additional forward gear means that the engineers could spread the ratio better. The first four are shorter for quicker acceleration while the last three are taller for more efficient cruising all the way up to its quoted 250kph top speed.

Review: CKD 2022 Volkswagen Golf GTI – Is she still the girl that can do both? 19

Volkswagen themselves quotes a 0-100kph time of 6.3-seconds and our Racelogic box clocked our quickest attempt at 6.68-seconds on a less than ideal surface. Suffice to say, in an ideal world that quoted number doesn’t seem like a stretch of the truth.

Review: CKD 2022 Volkswagen Golf GTI – Is she still the girl that can do both? 20

Only the driver gets memory seats and lumbar support.

Ride & Handling

So how does it all come together? Pretty darn smoothly and therein lies the problem… it’s too smooth. You can tell the extra ponies add a sense of urgency to the Mk8. It might not gallop a whole lot faster but its initial strides are definitely quicker.

Review: CKD 2022 Volkswagen Golf GTI – Is she still the girl that can do both? 21

If you're buying a Mk8, this panel of tiles will be your new worst enemy.

Even the DSG has been finetuned further. Judder is absent and shifts are seamless across the rev range. The best automatics in this age might make you question the need for a dual-clutch but Volkswagen’s head start with this tech ensures it remains leaps and bounds ahead of anything else.

Review: CKD 2022 Volkswagen Golf GTI – Is she still the girl that can do both? 22

VW did it right here; there's no need for 5 different Sport modes.

Now remember how eventually a jack of all trades will end up leaning towards one side of the spectrum? Well, in this case it’s the part that does the weekday tasks instead of the exciting weekend shenanigans.

Review: CKD 2022 Volkswagen Golf GTI – Is she still the girl that can do both? 23

The only way to shift the DSG on your own.

For sure it’s quicker and certainly more usable but that’s the downside though; the usability seems to have chipped away a little at the part that carves a smile on your face when you carve that corner in the road.

Review: CKD 2022 Volkswagen Golf GTI – Is she still the girl that can do both? 24

These common buttons below the screen had us excited until we realised they aren't lit up at night, making them essentially useless in the dark.

Speaking of corner carving, it’ll still bite and go. The XDS electronic LSD has been further honed and feels more forgiving at the limits without sacrificing grip. If you’ve ever driven the Mk7.5, you might wonder why this Mk8 just refuses to be ruffled at the limits.

Also Read: Locally-assembled (CKD) 2022 VW Golf GTI Mk.8, Golf TSI R-Line previewed in Malaysia

It’s that refinement which is also part of the grievances. Everything happens without any drama that it can be boring behind the wheel. It lacks that sense of excitement. Petrolheads that fall into the buyer demographic for the Golf GTI don’t prioritise outright performance over that fun factor. This Mk8 has been refined so much that going fast in it feels like you’re stuck in a sensory deprivation chamber.

Review: CKD 2022 Volkswagen Golf GTI – Is she still the girl that can do both? 25

If you want to deactivate the ESC, it's buried within the vehicle sub-menu under... brakes.

Even the signature DSG exhaust crackle is almost muted unless you’re giving it all the beans in Sport mode. Annoyingly though, Volkswagen decided to pipe in some synthesised engine noise into the cabin. Again, this very much falls into the misplaced priorities when engineering the Mk8.

Review: CKD 2022 Volkswagen Golf GTI – Is she still the girl that can do both? 26

We also put the Mk8 through our usual fuel consumption cycle, racking up just a hair over 100km on the drive. It covered roughly 60 percent of highway and the remaining 40 percent being urban commuting. It returned around 9.1-litre/100 km, which is a fair number although quite some litres off the claimed 7.4-litre/100 km.

Review: CKD 2022 Volkswagen Golf GTI – Is she still the girl that can do both? 27

Safety

Some of you might be bewildered that for something costing north of RM200k, the Mk8 is lacking any modicum of active safety tech. On another hand, a small faction might argue an enthusiast’s hatch such as the Golf GTI doesn’t require it.

Review: CKD 2022 Volkswagen Golf GTI – Is she still the girl that can do both? 28

Boot space has decreased marginally but nothing that'll ruin the car's everyday usability.

Thing is that active safety is almost a given nowadays so it isn’t a good look for the brand but we’re guessing the omission of active safety might have been in the name of keeping the price down.

Review: CKD 2022 Volkswagen Golf GTI – Is she still the girl that can do both? 29

Conclusion

Hot hatches are all about being fun rather than outright speed and performance. Yes, the latter is a major contributor to the former but not at its expense.

Review: CKD 2022 Volkswagen Golf GTI – Is she still the girl that can do both? 30

Now this is something any carmaker with a performance model should include; a nice pocket to hold your phone in place when the corners approach.

Nonetheless, being locally-assembled has priced the Mk8 close to RM 30,000 lower than the Mk7.5. From that standpoint alone, it’s a no-brainer. It’s a much more capable hot hatch in every sense of the hot and hatch compound; you just might not enjoy it as much.

Furthermore, when held up against its previous contemporary peers... the Mk8 Golf GTI doesn't quite have any direct contemporary peers anymore. The Honda Civic Type-R and the Renault Megane RS have all surpassed the RM 300k mark leaving the Golf to be a hole-in-one as nothing else can tee up next to it on the course.

Review: CKD 2022 Volkswagen Golf GTI – Is she still the girl that can do both? 31

Part of the cost-cutting might be why the gas struts from the Mk7.5 were ditched for a support rod.

Will you get from Point A to Point B faster than a Mk7.5? The answer is a resounding yes. Will you have more fun doing so? Probably not.

Dinesh

Writer

“Better late than never.” Some despise it, others begrudgingly agree with it but he swears by it… much to the chagrin of everyone around him. That unfortunately stems from all of his project cars not running most of the time, which in turn is testament to his questionable decision-making skills in life. A culmination of many wrongs fortunately making a right; much like his project cars on the rare occasions they run, he’s still trying to figure out if another project car is the way to go.

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