Smart looks; entertaining driving experience; high-class cabin; hatchback practicality
DSG automatic transmission a bit slow to respond in stop-go traffic
The short-lived Sport trim (introduced last year) is no more. The 10-horsepower bump in the previous Performance package becomes standard, so all GTI models now have 220 horsepower. And the upgraded brakes from that package are added to the top two trims, along with a larger touchscreen, adaptive LED headlights, and advanced driver aids that were previously optional. See the 2018 Volkswagen Golf GTI models for sale near you
Try to make the budget stretch to at least an SE so some more safety features are in the picture. Even though the Autobahn is more expensive, it does have a lot of equipment for the price. We also like the 6-year/72,000-mile warranty.
The 2018 Volkswagen Golf GTI comes as a 4-door hatchback. Trim levels are S, SE and Autobahn. The DSG transmission is an extra $1,100.
The S ($27,265) gets the ball rolling with 18-inch alloy wheels, electronic (brake-based) limited-slip feature, LED fog lights and daytime running lights, rear spoiler, heated side mirrors, heated front washer nozzles, rain-sensing wipers, cruise control, air conditioning, plaid cloth upholstery (a GTI specialty), aluminum-look pedals, heated front seats with manual adjustment/power-recline, leather-wrapped tilt-telescopic steering wheel, ambient cabin lighting, 60/40-split folding rear seats with a central pass-through, trip computer, 6.5-in touchscreen, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto smartphone integration, USB port, rearview camera, satellite radio, and VW Car-Net telematics (automatic crash notification, roadside assistance, remote vehicle access, stolen vehicle location and geo-fencing -- so parents can establish limits for teen drivers). High-performance summer tires are optional.
SE ($31,320) adds a sunroof, adaptive LED headlights, electronically controlled torque-sensing limited-slip differential, keyless entry/ignition, stronger brakes from the Golf R, 8-in touchscreen, blind spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, forward-collision mitigation with autonomous emergency braking and pedestrian detection. Leather seating surfaces are optional in the SE.
Autobahn ($35,920) brings navigation, a 12-way power-adjustable driver's seat (with power lumbar adjustment) and dual-zone automatic climate control, self-dimming rearview mirror, DCC adaptive damping (which includes adjustable shock absorbers and a larger rear anti-roll bar), Fender-branded audio system upgrade, navigation, leather seating surfaces, front and rear parking sensors, lane-keep assistance, automated parallel and perpendicular parking, automatic high beams, adaptive cruise control, forward-collision mitigation with autonomous emergency braking, and blind spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert.
Behind the rear seats is 22.8 cu ft. of cargo space. Fold them down for a massive 52.7 cu ft. -- as good as this class gets.
|Basic||6 Years/72,000 Miles|
|Drivetrain||6 Years/72,000 Miles|
|Corrosion||7 Years/100,000 Miles|
|Roadside Assistance||3 Years/36,000 Miles|
2018 Ford Focus ST -- Not quite the all-rounder the GTI is, but a ton of fun thanks to an exceptional front-drive chassis. Only available with a 6-speed manual transmission.
2018 Honda Civic Si -- This is a sedan (no hatchback Si version is planned for the United States). But the Civic provides an excellent platform for sportier thrills.
2018 Subaru WRX -- Comes with all-wheel drive as standard, which is useful in bad weather as well as gaining more traction through corners. Lower-rent interior, though, and nothing special from a styling point of view.
Used BMW 3 Series -- It doesn't have quite the same level of practicality, but the always-desirable 3 Series compensates with a great balance between sporty ride and premium equipment.