Test drive the 2018 Volkswagen Golf GTI and you’ll understand why this hatchback has been a favorite since its American debut in 1983. Like the standard Golf where it based on, the GTI Golf offers a lot of practicality and interior materials that seem to be taken from expensive German cars.
While the regular Golf emphasizes competitive pricing and fuel economy, the 2018 GTI drives with powerful engines, fast-shifting automatic transmissions and stylish looks. Like a performance car, the GTI is slightly lower and rides a bit stiffer than the regular Golf, which degrades driving quality. But the rewards are heroic stability and grip in turn.
Trim and Features
The 2018 Volkswagen Golf GTI is a five-passenger four-door hatchback available in three trim levels: S, SE and Autobahn.
Standard equipment for the base S trim includes high-performance tires, 18-inch alloy wheels, automatic headlights, LED foglights, rain-sensing wipers, heated mirrors, cloth upholstery, heated front seats, a 60/40-split folding rear seats with a center pass-through and ambient interior lighting. Technology features include Android Auto and Apple CarPlay smartphone integration, a rearview camera, a 6.5-inch touchscreen display, Bluetooth and an eight-speaker sound system.
The 2018 Volkswagen Golf GTI SE adds keyless entry, upgraded brakes, a limited-slip differential, a sunroof, LED headlights, push-button ignition, an 8-inch touchscreen display, an eight-speaker sound system with satellite radio, CD player, and VW Car-Net Security and Service connected services. It also gets safety features such as automatic emergency braking, forward collision warning, blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert. Leather upholstery is available as option.
The 2018 Volkswagen Golf GTI Autobahn trim adds automatic high beams, an adaptive suspension, a power-adjustable driver seat, a subwoofer-enhanced Fender sound system and a navigation system. The Autobahn also gets automatic high beams, adaptive cruise control, ane keeping assist system, lane departure warning, a self-parking system, front and rear parking sensors with Maneuver Braking, which automatically applies the brakes if a collision with nearby objects while parking seems likely.
The front-wheel-drive 2018 VW Golf GTI is powered by a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 220 horsepower and 258 pound-ft of torque. A six-speed manual transmission is standard, while a six-speed dual-clutch automatic (VW DSG) is optional.
In performance testing, the 2018 VW Golf GTI with the dual-clutch automatic transmission accelerated from zero to 60 mph in 6.1 seconds. More than a second quicker than a standard Golf and a bit quicker than the Ford Focus ST (6.4 seconds).
EPA fuel economy estimated at 28 mpg combined (25 city/33 highway) with the manual transmission and 27 mpg combined (24 city/32 highway) with the dual-clutch automatic.
For a sporty compact car class, the 2018 Volkswagen Golf GTI interior is standard. The material is smooth and soft to touch, and the overall design is European, sporty and comfortable. Bold red stitching throughout adds further effect. The body-hugging seats are very supportive, and the optional leather or classic plaid feel expensive. Buttons and switches are placed close to the driver and offer simple intuitive controls.
The passenger space is spacious for this class. The front seats provide enough comfort and support, even for long-distance driving. The backseat is just as good, with plenty of shoulder space, headroom and legroom. Width, tall door combined with a fairly high mounted seat makes this car easy to in and out. There are 22.8 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seats, and folding the seats flat open an impressive 52.7 cubic feet of space.
Every 2018 Volkswagen Golf GTI comes with a 6.5-inch touchscreen infotainment interface. The Autobahn model has navigation, but with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility across all trims, you don’t really need a factory nav system anymore (provided you have a fairly new smartphone). Two smartphones can be paired with Bluetooth at the same time, perfect for long distance travel when you have some friends. The touchscreen is small and doesn’t have sharp graphics, but does its job and easy to use.
Release Date and Price
The 2018 Volkswagen Golf GTI is on sale and arriving now at dealers nationwide. Key competitors include the Ford Focus ST, Subaru WRX and Elantra GT.
Official pricing for the base S starts at $27,265 (including destination fee). The popular SE trim starting cost of $31,320. The range-topping Autobahn starts at $35,920.