Volkswagen has been working on rolling out support for wireless CarPlay across its lineup, and the carmaker recently invited me out to Asheville, North Carolina, for a look at the redesigned Mk8 Golf GTI and Golf R hatchbacks, as well as the refreshed Jetta and the rest of the 2022 lineup.
Given that I’ve previously looked at VW’s MIB3 infotainment platforms with wireless CarPlay in both the
Golf GTI and Golf R
The new Golf launched in a number of international markets a couple of years ago, but it’s taken until now for it to come to the U.S. with only the more performance-oriented Golf GTI and Golf R versions joining the U.S. lineup.
On the infotainment side, the Golf GTI and Golf R both come with VW’s latest MIB3 platform, although that arrives in a couple of different flavors.
The GTI S trim includes an 8.25-inch infotainment screen with VW’s Composition Color system that supports wired CarPlay, while moving up to the SE or Autobahn trim upgrades to a 10-inch screen with VW’s Discover Pro system that I’m focusing on here. That system includes a completely different look, onboard navigation, wireless CarPlay, SiriusXM with 360L, and voice control. The 10-inch Discover Pro system is also standard on Golf R, as that model is available in only a single high-end trim.
The Discover Pro system has seen some criticism since its debut on the ID.4 for bugs and sluggishness, but VW has been working to improve it and over-the-air software updates will allow for continued refinement. I actually didn’t have a lot of issues with it in the ID.4, and I still found it working well in the Golf. The system has a modern smartphone-like look with familiar home screen icons and a CarPlay-like dashboard screen showing widgets from multiple apps.
As with the ID.4, volume and climate controls are located in a capacitive strip below the main screen and are operated by swiping left or right. My initial feeling was that it was a creative way to implement streamlined and unobtrusive controls, but the more I’ve used them, the less enamored I am of them. They can be a bit finicky, and I’d really just prefer to use a hardware knob or buttons with a tactile response. The strip is also a natural place where you might want to brace your hand to operate the touchscreen, but then you have to be careful not to mess up your audio or A/C.
That said, CarPlay looks good on the system, which retains a strip of the native interface along the left side that makes it easy to hop out of CarPlay with a home button icon, as well as offer access to climate and heated/ventilated seat settings.
VW’s 10.25-inch Digital Cockpit Pro screen is standard across all trims, which offers great flexibility for displaying the information you want including navigation prompts, and the Golf GTI Autobahn trim and the Golf R add a head-up display for even more glanceable information.
All GTI and R trims include a wireless phone charger standard, which is always great to have alongside wireless CarPlay. The charger is a simple cubby tucked under the center stack, and it had no problems charging my iPhone 13 Pro Max in an Apple leather case.
All trims also include four USB-C ports, with two up front supporting both charging and data while two second-row ones on the rear of the center console are charge-only.
Jetta and Jetta GLI
The 2022 Jetta includes a combination of the MIB3 and older MIB2 systems, with lower-level S, Sport, and SE trims featuring MIB2 Composition Color systems with a 6.5-inch display and support for wired CarPlay only. The higher-level SEL and GLI Autobahn trims come with upgraded MIB3 8-inch systems that support wireless CarPlay and are paired with wireless phone charging. The GLI’s system is known as Composition Media and lacks built-in navigation, while the SEL’s Discover Media system includes navigation.
I spent some time in the GLI with Composition Media, which features not only the 8-inch screen but also several fixed buttons surrounding the display that make it easy to hop between functions, including in and out of CarPlay. The 8-inch screen really feels like the bare minimum for infotainment systems these days, so it’s unfortunate that the lower trims still come with only a 6.5-inch screen.
As I noted in my 2021 Tiguan review, performance of the MIB3 system is solid, although the simple interface lacks visual interest. That can be a good thing, with understated dark themes being easy on the eyes and limiting distraction, but it’s definitely not as modern looking as the Discover Pro systems on the ID.4 and Golf.
CarPlay integrates well with the system, and turn-by-turn Apple Maps guidance can also be displayed in the digital cockpit for some second-screen flexibility.
The wireless charger is a rubberized pad inside a nook at the base of the center stack, and it worked well as my phone stayed in place and it had no trouble delivering a consistent charge. For wired connectivity, there’s a pair of USB-C data-and-charge ports adjacent to the phone cubby, and another charge-only one in the center console compartment.
The final 2022 VW I spent significant time in was the Taos, which features the 8-inch MIB3 system on the higher-end SE and SEL trims, with the SEL’s Discover Media including onboard navigation to distinguish it from the SE’s Composition Media unit. The base S trim features the older MIB2 Composition Color system on a 6.5-inch screen, which again is difficult to recommend these days due to its small size and lack of wireless CarPlay.
The MIB3 Discover Media system on the Taos SEL trim I drove is essentially the same as the one in the Jetta at this event and the 2021 Tiguan I previously tested, so there’s not a lot else to report. As with the Jetta, the Taos SE and SEL trims include a well-designed rubberized wireless phone charging pad, as well as the same pair of data-and-charge USB-C ports up front. A third charge-only port is located on the rear of the center console for second-row passengers.
Overall, VW is making some nice strides in the infotainment department, pushing things forward with the MIB3 platform with wireless CarPlay and wireless phone charging. Unfortunately, the lineups can still be a bit confusing, with lower trims still featuring the older MIB2 system while higher trims on the same vehicle get MIB3.
Even within the MIB3 system, there’s significant variation in the overall look depending on the vehicle, with the large-screen Discover Pro systems found in vehicles like the ID.4 and Golf bearing essentially no similarity in looks to the Discover Media and Composition Media systems found in other vehicles like the Jetta and Taos. And the MIB3 interfaces in the Jetta and Taos look closer in appearance to MIB2 systems than they do MIB3 Discover Pro systems, but with improved performance and some extra features like wireless CarPlay.
It obviously takes time for automakers to roll out updated systems like these, generally requiring some level of interior refresh to accommodate changes to the hardware, so there will always be a staggered rollout across a lineup, but I feel like there’s a bit more confusion than there needs to be right now.
So if wireless CarPlay is important to you, make sure you’re closely checking the specs for your desired trim. On the Golf and Taos, everything but the lowest-level S trims include it, while the Jetta requires either the SEL or GLI level at the higher end. Other models will vary.