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Hatch Full of Fun: 2018 Volkswagen Golf SE Test Drive Review

We’re huge fans of hatchbacks, and the Volkswagen Golf has always been our personal favorite. The Volkswagen Golf has won many awards throughout its history and rightfully so. It is, after all, Volkswagen’s best-selling model.

The new 2018 model seen here has been so well received that Volkswagen has already sold one million of them. While we’re not sure how many Volkswagen Golfs have been sold to date, in 2013, Volkswagen announced the sale of its 30 millionth Golf since its inception. That is simply outstanding. Let’s take a closer look at the 2018 Volkswagen Golf SE.

2018 Volkswagen Golf

2018 Volkswagen Golf SE Exterior

Recently hatchbacks seem to be going for a dramatic design language when it comes to their exteriors. While hatchbacks like the Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla could be considered a bit too aggressive, other models like the Hyundai Elantra GT, Mazda3 Hatchback, and the Volkswagen Golf opt for a more sophisticated style. We believe different age groups and personality types will lean towards one more than the other but we personally think designs like the Golf are really timeless.

Last year, Volkswagen introduced the seventh-generation Golf with some minor upgrades including updates to the front bumper, chrome-surround grille, and sharp LED daytime running lights. The rear gets full standard LED taillights. Overall, when it comes to the exterior, the main difference between the base Golf S model and the Golf SE is that the Golf SE comes with a power tilting/sliding panoramic sunroof.

Size wise, the new Volkswagen Golf sits on a wheelbase that measures 103.8-inches with an overall length of 167.5-inches. The width stretches 70.8-inches and the height stands at 57.2-inches. Curb weight comes in at 2,963 lbs.

2018 Volkswagen Golf

2018 Volkswagen Golf SE Interior

We’ve always appreciated Volkswagen’s interiors and the interior of the Golf has always been a step above the rest in the hatchback segment. While there aren’t significant changes to the interior of the new Golf, the one thing you’ll notice right away is the 8-inch glass touchscreen display on the Golf SE (Golf S gets a regular 6.5-inch touchscreen display). It is extremely clear and sharp and houses the awesome Car-Net App-Connect smartphone integration system which is standard on Golf models. That means you get standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto Connectivity and with Apple CarPlay you’re now getting the option to use Google Maps and Waze right from the screen.

The base Golf S model comes standard with cloth seats, single-zone climate control, Bluetooth, a rearview camera, and a USB port. The Golf SE adds V-Tex leatherette seats, heated front seats, a sunroof.

2018 Volkswagen Golf

2018 Volkswagen Golf SE Performance

Power for the 2018 Volkswagen Golf SE comes from a 1.8-liter four-cylinder turbo engine making 170 horsepower and a maximum torque of 184 lb-ft of torque. The engine is coupled to a six-speed automatic transmission that helps zero to 60 mph to be achieved in 7.7 seconds with a top speed of 124 mph.

In our experience, the Volkswagen Golf and the Mazda3 Hatch are the most fun to drive in this segment. The driving dynamics of the Volkswagen Golf are (as always) very impressive. It’s fun to throw around and handles pretty well. It is quick enough to zoom in and out of traffic during lane changes so it’s a perfect daily commuter car.

Fuel economy wise, the Volkswagen Golf gets an EPA-rated 24/33 mpg* (city/highway).

Of course, if you want some extra performance you can always go for the Volkswagen Golf GTI or the Volkswagen Golf R. Comparatively, the 220-hp Volkswagen Golf GTI hits 60 mph in 6 seconds and starts at $26,415**. The 292-hp Golf R, on the other hand, hits 60 mph in just 4.8 seconds and starts at $39,785**.

2018 Volkswagen Golf

2018 Volkswagen Golf SE Safety

Safety wise, the Volkswagen Golf SE comes with forward collision warning, blind spot monitoring, rear traffic alert, and the Volkswagen Car-Net Security & Service.

2018 Volkswagen Golf SE Overall

Overall, the base 170-horsepower Volkswagen Golf is an outstanding hatchback. If we were shopping for a base model hatch there are three models that we would decide between: the Volkswagen Golf, Mazda3 Hatchback, and Hyundai Elantra GT. We’d suggest testing all of them, and seeing which one checks all the boxes for you. Prices for the 2018 Volkswagen Golf start at $20,910** for the base Golf S model. Visit your local AutoNation Volkswagen dealer for a test drive today.

*Based on EPA mileage ratings. Your mileage will vary depending specific vehicle trim, how you drive and maintain your vehicle, driving conditions, and other factors.

**MSRP excluding tax, license, registration, destination charge and options. Dealer prices may vary.

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