2018 Volkswagen Golf GTIFeatured Test Drive Reviews Volkswagen 

Never Reinvented, Always Evolving: 2018 Volkswagen Golf GTI Test Drive

So there you are, in a conversation with a bunch of folks and all of a sudden the topic turns to automobiles. At this point you begin to perspire because the fact is, you don’t actually know anything about automobiles and you’re terrified of losing face. But have have no fear! Because if this happens to you, just remember one thing – the answer is always, Volkswagen GTI. The GTI is one of the few cars on the planet that is universally loved. Exotic owners all started here, track enthusiasts respect the engineering, and the muscle car crowd? Well, lets just say the GTI is arguably one of the few cars they can own and still impress their friends.

Like the Porsche 911, this little VW has never been reinvented, but instead, evolved into what is perhaps the best all around hot-hatch on the market today.

2018 Volkswagen Golf GTI

2018 Volkswagen GTI Autobahn Exterior

If you were to take a MK1 GTI from the mid-1970s and place it next to this 2018 model, you’d notice similarities. The hatchback configuration, the short raked hood, large windows and the bulldog like persona is all still intact. You’d then immediately understand why, that after 40 years in production, people still gravitate to these cars. You see, the GTI has always been the compact performance hatchback that adults could enjoy without feeling awkward. It’s refined, and has an air of sophistication, and never resorts to boy racer trickery. Instead, Volkswagen relies on clean lines with sporty cues.  It just works.

For 2018 the GTI does get a few visual updates. With curved red LED trim in the headlamps, a new gloss finish for the grille and an updated bumper/lower fascia with more pronounced driving light callouts, the 2018 Volkswagen GTI is a bit more aggressive than last year. Under the fenders live hatchet style 18-inch by 7.5-inch aluminum-alloy rims with gloss black queues running 225/40-series all-season rubber. Out back we’re treated to twin polished exhaust tips, special GTI badging along with blacked-out rocker moldings and a subtle rear diffusor. A small shark fin antenna and hatch spoiler help to finish off the lines nicely.

2018 Volkswagen Golf GTI

2018 Volkswagen GTI Autobahn Interior

The cabin of the 2018 VW GTI Autobahn Edition goes about its business with a intuitive refinement few manufacturers can match. From the large analog gauges and inset digital information screen, to the 12-way power adjustable drivers seat with heat, to the fact that the GTI has room for five adults, there’s something incredibly satisfying about an interior done right. Mounted center dash is Volkswagens’ 8-inch touchscreen that controls the infotainment system with Fender Audio, in-car navigation, Car-Net App Connect system, and vehicle settings. Simple HVAC controls also mean setting your desired in-car comfort level is a snap.

Riding in the GTI is a pleasure as the cabin is quiet, with wonderful outward visibility. The seats offer great support, there’s plenty of leg, shoulder and headroom and to top it off, it offers up to 52.7 cubic-feet of storage space with the rear seats folded flat. Unlike others in the class, the GTI also has a build quality that few can compete with, as nothing in the cabin feels cheap. Volkswagen should be commended for not following trends, but instead constructing a cabin that is usable on a day-to-day basis.

2018 Volkswagen Golf GTI

2018 Volkswagen GTI Autobahn Performance

Under the hood is a 2.0-liter turbocharged 16v four-cylinder with direct-injection that produces 220 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque. That power is transferred through a 6-speed automatic transmission with Tiptronic manual shift capabilities through the front wheels to the tune of a zero-to-60 time of about 6.5 seconds (a 6-speed manual is also available). The good news is that for 2018, SE and Autobahn models come standard with the larger brake kit and limited-slip differential from the Golf R. And while the GTI may not be the quickest hot-hatch out there, it is unbelievably well composed and confidence inspiring, thus making it near perfect for a daily driver.

Like many of us however, the GTI lives for the weekends and all the twisty curvy roads you can throw at it. With a curb weight of just over 3,000 pounds, the GTI feels remarkably agile. Pitching it hard into a corner results in little in the way of understeer. There are also four different drive modes to choose from, Normal, Sport, Comfort and Individual, with the latter allowing one to configure the car as they see fit. Braking performance was exceptional and was facilitated by oversized calipers that sit on large 13.4-inch vented brake discs. Keep in mind as well that with an EPA fuel economy rating of 25 mpg city, 33 mpg on the highway and 28 mpg in combined driving, drivers can expect a range of over 350 miles from the 13.2-gallon fuel tank.

2018 Volkswagen Golf GTI

2018 Volkswagen GTI Autobahn Safety

The 2018 Volkswagen GTI Autobahn comes to us with such safety features as airbags, anti-lock brakes, a limited slip differential, automatic post-collision braking, electronic stability control, Intelligent crash response system and a standard backup camera.
Additional safety features can be seen over at VW.com.

2018 Volkswagen Golf GTI

2018 Volkswagen GTI Autobahn Overall

With trickle down performance components from the Golf R, great EPA-rated fuel economy numbers, and a persona that’s fit for the true adult enthusiast, the 2018 GTI Autobahn continues to push the hot-hatch segment into a better position. Combine that with a starting price of just $27,310.00 for the base S model, to an as-tested price of $37,020.00 for our Deep Black Pearl Autobahn Edition, and you’re talking about a performance hatch that has something for just about everyone.

Drop by your local AutoNation Volkswagen dealer today to check one out!

*Fuel economy values (mpg) are EPA estimates. Actual mileage will vary and depends on several factors including driving habits and vehicle condition.

**Vehicle MSRP of $37,020.00 excludes taxes, title, transportation, options, and dealer fees.

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