2022 Volkswagen Golf GTI Long-Term Introduction: Is It Still Our Favorite Daily Driver?

We'll be putting Volkswagen's eighth-gen Golf GTI though its paces during a 12-month long-term test.

Generation after generation, the Volkswagen Golf GTI continues to be a perennial favorite. Thanks to its great balance of performance, functionality and value -- not to mention those awesome plaid seats -- the GTI is one of the cars we recommend most as an enthusiast's daily driver.

To see if that all remains true with the new Mk 8 GTI, we added one to our long-term fleet for a year-long test. As we pile on the miles and put the Golf GTI through the paces of everyday life, we'll be curious to see if we still absolutely adore it, or if the controversial new infotainment tech and reworked driving dynamics ultimately tarnish our love.

How we spec'd it

The GTI can only be had with a 2.0-liter turbocharged I4 engine, producing 241 horsepower and 273 pound-feet of torque. We opted to stick with the standard six-speed manual transmission rather than the dual-clutch automatic, since we believe a GTI is best experienced with three pedals. The EPA estimates we'll see 24 mpg city, 34 mpg highway and 28 mpg combined.

Volkswagen offers the 2022 Golf GTI in three grades -- S, SE and Autobahn -- and we opted to get the midlevel trim. This gives us access to niceties including a sunroof, pushbutton start, Harman Kardon audio system and the 10-inch touchscreen infotainment system, but still allows us to forgo leather upholstery for that sweet, sweet plaid fabric. No, you can't get an SE in the GTI's cool new Pomelo Yellow hue, but we're perfectly happy with our test car's Moonstone Gray. The SE rides on 18-inch wheels rather than the Autobahn's 19s, though we aren't sure why our car was delivered on these horrible/optional black gloss wheels. Yuck.

A 2022 Golf GTI starts at $30,540 including $995 for destination, with the SE commanding $35,290. Add our tester's $395 paint and $395 black wheels (which we will hopefully get rid of), and the final, as-tested price comes to $36,080.

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