2018 Volkswagen Golf GTI Review, Specs, and Price

“GTI” version of a Volkswagen car is their usual car, sugar and spiced up to perform, be fun and still be an approachable buy. The refreshed up 2018 Golf GTI is no different, it has enough sporty intent and great driving dynamics to start from.

VW offers a lot with GTI. Three trims: S, SE, and Autobahn to choose from. Starting from Base “S” at MSRP $26,450. The price point is great for an upmarket up-scaled hatchback with enough firepower to have fun and engaging drive in. Putting out 220 hp as standard, The Golf GTI is quite an upgrade over the last year’s model.

Having a sporty intention at large it’s mainly pitted against other performance variants from other leading manufacturers. Honda Civic SI, Hyundai Elantra GT, and Subaru WRX.

Pros

  • Quick, Zippy acceleration
  • Intuitive Infotainment system
  • Six-year/72,000 mile warranty standard
  • Great grip dynamics

Cons

  • The absence of mechanical LSD in “S” trim
  • Below average fuel economy

What’s New?

  • Updated exteriors and interiors
  • Apple CarPlay/Android Auto compatibility as standard
  • More Color options
  • Last years performance pack as standard

2018 Volkswagen Golf GTI Trims and Features

Volkswagen offers three trims S, SE and Autobahn with Golf GTI. The features on offer as standard have been better than ever. The infotainment system is very intuitive and easy to use.

Trims           S             SE     Autobahn
MSRP      $26,415       $30,470      $35,070
Features ●        Driving Mode Selection

●        LED taillights

●        VW Car-Net App-Connect

●       8” touchscreen

●       LED headlights

●       Blind Spot Monitor

●       Adaptive Cruise control

●        Fender Audio system

●        8” touchscreen navigation system

What trim to choose?

The base trim “S” is one to pick up. The difference in the other two Trims: the SE and Autobahn, is just a Mechanical Limited Slip Differential and infotainment upgrades, which we feel is avoidable. Add a DSG automatic gearbox if you want to relax a bit, S trim is the way to go.

2018 Volkswagen Golf GTI Power and Performance

“This all-in-one, hot-but-humble hatchback formula elevated the original GTI to icon status.” -Edmunds

Engine and Transmission

Golf GTI is powered by a 2.0L turbo petrol engine churning out 220 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque, which is a 10hp bump from last year’s version. 220 hp output was only offered as a performance upgrade in 2017. This very mill gives the GTI very sprightly acceleration.

2018 Volkswagen Golf GTI Engine Bay

As standard, 6-speed manual transmission is offered. Which is quite slick in operation and it lets you shift with ease. A DSG automatic gearbox is offered as an option on every trim and it works like a charm without any hiccups. The slick and seamless shifts only help to build the character of the GTI unlike the slow shifting automatics from the competition.

Models Golf GTI Subaru WRX Elantra GT        Civic SI
MSRP $26,415 $26,995 $24,135 $24,995
Engine 2L inline-4,

Turbo petrol

2L flat-4,

Turbo petrol

1.6L inline-4,

Turbo petrol

1.5L inline-4,

Turbo petrol

Transmission 6 speed 6 speed 6 speed 6 speed
Power 220 hp 268 hp 201 hp 205 hp
Torque 258 lb-ft 258 lb-ft 195lb-ft 192 lb-ft

When competition is concerned, GTI offers more than what Elantra GT Sport and Civic SI get on the table. So it still leads them with ease albeit with a $2,000 premium over both. Subaru WRX trumps Golf GTI in horsepower, but acceleration timings of both the cars are more or less the same.

Acceleration

There’s hardly a bump in the power from last year, 10hp to be exact. The car doesn’t feel changed as such from the previous year. The acceleration isn’t surprising but feels very solid. It has the ability to put down power almost everywhere in the rev range.

Models Golf GTI Subaru WRX Elantra GT Civic SI
0-60 MPH 5.2sec 5.5sec 6.6sec 6.7sec
Quarter mile 14.5sec 14.2sec 15sec 15sec
Engine 2L inline-4,

Turbo petrol

2L flat-4,

Turbo petrol

1.6L inline-4,

Turbo petrol

1.5L inline-4,

Turbo petrol

Emission

Tons/year of CO2 Emissions @ 15K mi/year

6.3 7.6 6.3 5.5

Golf GTI dusts its competition in 0-60mph, 0.3 seconds quicker than the more powerful Subaru WRX. The weight deficit helps its case. Being a Front Wheel Drive and not All Wheel Drive like Subaru, 5.2sec is quite respectable.

Braking and Handling

The brake system of Golf GTI is lifted off from the superior Golf R. The brakes have quite a gradual feel to it. It feels quite confident and gradual. No sudden bite to expect. Just the brake upgrade it needed from the last year.

2018 Volkswagen Golf GTI

Golf GTI’s turning ability is superior to the competition. It’s eased out and great in feel. Even though having a top-heavy nature, it rides flat through a corner. Its grip is endless and is supremely composed. It’s a car you could have enormous fun in, even at the track.

Steering weight is optimum and not “supercar-hard” nor “feather” light. It reacts quickly to any input and gives a reassuring feel. All this only adds to the 220hp fun.

Model Golf GTI Subaru WRX Elantra GT Civic SI
Disc rotor dia-front(in) 13.4” 12.4” 12” 12.3”
Disc rotor dia-Rear(in) 12.3” 11.3” 10.3” 11.1”
Curb weight(lbs.) 3031 lbs. 3272 lbs. 2901 lbs. 2897 lbs.
70-0 MPH (ft.) 174ft 156ft 165ft 176ft

 Golf GTI recruits its brakes from Golf R and it still struggles to slow down as quick as its competition.

Fuel Economy

Fuel consumption of GTI is decent for a hatchback but performance oriented hatches are expected to have such figures. It outruns every car in competition.

Model Golf GTI Subaru WRX Elantra GT Civic SI
Mpg city mpg 24 21 22 28
Mpg highway mpg 34 27 29 38
Mpg combined mpg 28 23 25 32

Just the Japanese counterpart: Civic SI is more efficient. Elantra GT surprises with a smaller engine but still having lesser fuel economy.

2018 Volkswagen Golf GTI Exterior

“Minor styling tweaks add some sporty character to a classic design.”-Edmunds

Dimension and Weight

The overall size of the car is that of an “up-scaled” hatchback. The MQB platform on which it is based has quite a dimension to it. But it doesn’t go far from being that zippy and fast uptown hatch. It hides its mass very well.

2018 Volkswagen Golf GTI
2018 Volkswagen Golf GTI Side Profile
Model Golf GTI Subaru WRX Elantra GT Civic SI
curb weight(lbs.) 3031 3272 2901 2906
Length(in) 168.0 180.9 170.9 182.8
Width(in) 70.8 70.7 70.7 70.8
Height(in) 56.8 58.1 57.7 55.5
Ground clearance(in) 5.0 4.9 5.9 5.9
Wheelbase(in) 103.6 104.3 104.3 106.3
Track width(in) F/R 60.6/59.6 60.2/60.6 61.1/61.5 60.5/61.2

The GTI has a rather good edge to edge dimensions to comfortably seat 5. Good space for a hatchback. WRX being a sedan have the extra practicality with that boot. Being shorter in track and wheelbase its dynamic ability is superior.

Exterior Features

The biggest change in exteriors from the last year is updated lights and DRLs. The lights with red highlights make it look really mean. The highlight runs across the grille in continuum with the headlight cluster.  The shoulder line gives the car a creased look.

2018 Volkswagen Golf GTI exterior features
2018 Volkswagen Golf GTI Exterior

It now has sleeker looking LED tail lights which give a car very light-tailed and a crouched stance. The tailgate now has two character lines which make it look squeaky clean. The 18” inch Austin wheel design is fast-looking and very dynamic. Red colored brake caliper with “GTI” logo only makes it look detailed and race ready.

2018 Volkswagen Golf GTI interior

“It’s handsome and well appointed, with an interior room that is about average for this space-efficient class.”-Edmunds

Interior Seating and Comfort

Golf line of hatchbacks from VW is rather a big roomy car to start with and GTI is no different. Stepping up the pleasing nature there’s also an ambient interior lighting that casts a sporty red in the door panels.

2018 Volkswagen Golf GTI Interiors
2018 Volkswagen Golf GTI Interiors

Driver seat is 12-way power adjustable. With driver’s seat put all the way back it still has plenty of leg room for the rear occupants.

 

Model Golf GTI Subaru WRX Elantra GT Civic Si
Passenger capacity 5 5 5 5
Front (Head/Shoulder/Leg)

(In.)

 

38.5/55.9/41.2 39.8/55.6/43.3 39.1/56.2/42.2 37.5/56.9/42.3
Rear (Head/Shoulder/Leg)

(In.)

 

38.1/53.9/35.9 37.1/54.2/35.4 38.5/55.4/34.8 36.8/55/37.4

All the cars here are moderately spaced. Headroom and Legroom are shy less in the GTI but the sense of space is no less.

Cargo volume

This hatchback has plenty of room inside that it hides smartly behind its big chunky C-pillar. The space behind the second row is 22.8 cubic feet and 53 cubic feet with the seat folded down. However, the seat doesn’t fold down flat.

2018 Volkswagen Golf GTI Boot Space
2018 Volkswagen Golf GTI Boot Space
Cargo space Golf GTI Subaru WRX Elantra GT Civic SI
Seat down 22.8 12.0 24.9 14.5
Seat up 53.7 n/a 55.1 n/a

 Elantra GT here has a tad better space than Golf GTI. Subaru and Honda here are nowhere close to them.

 

Infotainment System

The infotainment is an all-new 6.5” touchscreen as standard. The user interface is very intuitive and its ease of use only makes it better. It has sensors that pick your hand movement and bring up the necessary menu as you approach it.

Interior Feature

  • Apple CarPlay, Mirror Link and Android Auto compatibility
  • 5” touchscreen infotainment system (standard)
  • 8” touchscreen (optional)
  • 8 speaker audio system
  • Drive Mode selection
  • Rain sensing wipers
  • Keyless access with Push Button Start/Stop
  • Bluetooth
  • Rear view camera
  • Keyless access with start/stop ignition system
  • Fender premium audio system (optional)

2018 Volkswagen Golf GTI Safety Ratings and Features

VW employs Intelligent Crash Response System, it deploys the airbags, can turn off the fuel pump system, unlock the doors and actuate the hazards.

Also installed is the Tire pressure monitoring system. There is a total of 7 stability enhancing systems which include ESC, DCC Adaptive Chassis control and EBD.

Safety features

  • Automatic post-collision braking system
  • EBD with ESC
  • Blind Spot Monitoring system
  • Rear Cross Traffic Monitoring
  • Lane Departure/Keeping assist
  • Adaptive Cruise Control
  • 6 Airbags
  • Rear parking sensors
  • XDS+ Cross differential system
  • DCC adaptive chassis control
  • Forward collision warning
  • Self-parking system
  • VW Car-Net security
  • Pedestrian Monitoring system

NHSTA Rating

Overall Rating 5*
Frontal Barrier Crash Rating Driver 5*
Frontal Barrier Crash Rating Passenger 4*
Overall Side Crash Rating 4*
Side Barrier Rating overall 5*
Side Barrier Rating Driver/passenger 4*
Side Barrier Rating Passenger Rear Seat 5*
Rollover 4*

 *IHSS Rating (N/A)

2018 Volkswagen Golf GTI competition Check 

Hyundai Elantra GT Sport

Elantra GT Sport houses a Turbo 1.6L inline-4 engine which puts out 201hp which is 19 horses less than GTI, even the efficiency is surprisingly lower than it. It’s light and nimble but lacks the solid build and handling characteristics of the VW.

Being $2000 cheaper, it’s a little bland in the offer list. And can be ignored unless you have something for the Hyundai fluidic design language.

Honda Civic SI

Civic SI is 2 grand cheaper than GTI. Having a lesser firepower (205hp) than the former. Almost 4 miles to a gallon more in any of the condition be it highway, city or mixed. A striking Japanese design lends the car a mean character.

It’s a good option if you want to be economical yet a sporty car. Japanese are known for the reliability and refinement.

Subaru WRX

WRX has that characteristic Turbo petrol Flat-4 mill having substantially more power i.e. 268hp. That doesn’t really show up in 0-62mph and quarter-mile timings. That’s because of the extra weight the engine has to haul.

In a sedan guise, it also increases the ability to carry more. It’s $500 costlier than the Golf GTI “S” Trim.  This is the one to pick if boxer charms you.

Final Verdict for 2018 Volkswagen Golf GTI

Holding up the legacy of the original Golf GTI. The latest Mk7.5 is no different. Starting at $26,415 it’s a great sporty hatchback that has enough comfort for its occupants, enough for a long trip even! A big roomy feel inside. At 220hp it’s not exuberantly fast but rather confidently fast. Great in handling and solid in ride quality.

The number of safety features and driving aids on offer makes it great in value. Infotainment is better than ever with smartphone compatibility. This car has understated looks with red accents inside and outside the car. Overall it makes a good package. It’s the best all-rounder in the hatchback world with sporty intentions.