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 at MSRP $26,415. 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 mainly pitted against other performance variants from other leading manufacturers- Honda Civic SI, Hyundai Elantra GT, and Subaru WRX.
2018 Volkswagen Golf GTI Hatchback 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.
● 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
Which 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 Hatchback Engine
“This all-in-one, hot-but-humble hatchback formula elevated the original GTI to icon status.” -Edmunds
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.
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.
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.
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.
Emission (Tons/year of CO2 Emissions @ 15K mi/year)
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.
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.
Disc rotor dia-front(in)
Disc rotor dia-Rear(in)
70-0 MPH (ft.)
2018 Volkswagen Golf GTI Hatchback 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.
Mpg (city mpg)
Mpg (highway mpg)
Mpg (combined mpg)
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 Hatchback Interior
“It’s handsome and well appointed, with an interior room that is about average for this space-efficient class.”-Edmunds
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.
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.
All the cars here are moderately spaced. Headroom and Legroom are shy less in the GTI but the sense of space is no less.
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.
Elantra GT here has a tad better space than Golf GTI. Subaru and Honda here are nowhere close to them.
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.
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
Rear view camera
Keyless access with start/stop ignition system
Fender premium audio system (optional)
2018 Volkswagen Golf GTI Hatchback 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.
Track width(in) F/R
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.
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.
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 Hatchback Safety
VW employs an 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.
Automatic post-collision braking system
EBD with ESC
Blind Spot Monitoring system
Rear Cross Traffic Monitoring
Lane Departure/Keeping assist
Adaptive Cruise Control
Rear parking sensors
XDS+ Cross differential system
DCC adaptive chassis control
Forward collision warning
VW Car-Net security
Pedestrian Monitoring system
IIHS ratings are yet to be performed by authorities.
Frontal Barrier Crash Rating Driver
Frontal Barrier Crash Rating Passenger
Overall Side Crash Rating
Side Barrier Rating overall
Side Barrier Rating Driver/passenger
Side Barrier Rating Passenger Rear Seat
2018 Volkswagen Golf GTI Hatchback Competition
Volkswagen Golf GTI vs 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.
Volkswagen Golf GTI vs 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.
Volkswagen Golf GTI vs 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.
2018 Volkswagen Golf GTI Hatchback Final Verdict
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.