2018 Volkswagen Golf GTI Review
Pros & Cons
- Quick, zippy acceleration guarantees grins for miles
- Sporty handling makes fun work of twisting roads
- Roomy hatchback design offers excellent passenger and cargo versatility
- High-quality interior materials look and feel great
- Transmission doesn't shift smoothly at low speeds
- Some competitors offer more performance for a lower price
- Standard high-performance tires contribute to a stiff ride quality
- Now-common safety aids limited to top two trims
List Price Range
$21,777 - $30,998
Used Golf GTI for SaleSee all for sale
Which Golf GTI does Edmunds recommend?
It tips the scales at more than $31,000, but the SE with a manual transmission is worth it for several features not available on the base model. They include upgraded brakes, LED headlights, a sunroof, driver assistance features (forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, blind-spot monitoring), a larger touchscreen, and the option to upgrade to leather upholstery.
Edmunds' Expert Review
The Golf GTI offers great performance for the price, but the standard all-season tires hurt acceleration, braking and handling abilities. As long as you don't try to wring out every bit of performance, the GTI feels great and is totally usable as a daily driver.
The available adaptive suspension dampers allow the driver to select a composed ride that is far more relaxed than others in the class. The supportive seats and rear air vents ensure everyone remains comfortable. Exterior noise can be intrusive, but you will never have to raise your voice to converse with passengers.
The controls are laid out logically, and all are within easy reach of the driver. Getting into or out of the cabin is no problem, though tall passengers might feel the pinch behind a similarly tall driver. Outward visibility is exceptional.
Behind the rear bench is a decent-size cargo hold. With the rear seats folded, the GTI can carry more than most competitors. Despite the GTI's tight packaging, there are many places to store small items.
The new infotainment system improves upon its predecessor in a number of ways, including quicker response times and a larger screen. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard, but there's only one USB port. The Autobahn boasts a ton of safety features, but they aren't available on lower trims.
|Overall||8.4 / 10|
Most helpful consumer reviews
S 4dr Hatchback (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6M)
After my 22 year old son bought his first car, on his own dime that is, my wife and I had to step back and take notice. He had talked about wanting a GTI since middle school and when it came time to trade the 1990 Saab 900 Turbo in that mom and dad had given him to drive through part of high school and college, he jumped at the chance to buy a GTI. His 2013 Wolfsburg edition was a different sort of animal than his Saab was...and it was also a tempting ride for my wife and I. A year after he bought the car, we traded in our 2013 Juke Nismo and picked up a 2018 S model. Since the age of 16, I have owned well over 50 different vehicles, most of them being some type of enthusiast car. From a 1966 Ford Mustang convertible to a 2001 GMC Yukon to a 2006 BMW 325i to a 2012 Fiat 500 Abarth, I've owned something of everything. I have experienced luxury (1992 Mercedes 300 AMG) to the basest car available (1986 Golf with a 3 speed automatic). I've owned slow (Any Isuzu Trooper or Mitsubishi Montero) and I've owned fast (2006 Nissan 350Z or 2001 BMW Z3M). But this GTI trumps them all. And it isn't even close. We bought the base model because it was the cheapest and offered everything we wanted in the car. While we would have loved LED headlights and a sunroof, the difference in price and possible repair cost offset that desire. I took a bath on my Juke when I traded it in, rolling about $2500 in negative equity into the loan...and that was after the down payment. Apparently when a manufacturer announces that a particular model is being discontinued, values plummet, even when that model is the enthusiast version and the most expensive. So one minor nit-pick with the car is that it is on the pricier side of things. But once you drive one, you will know why. The motor in this car is phenomenal. So much torque that you can pull away from nearly any speed in any gear. And speaking of transmission... the 6 speed manual in this car? Like hot butter. Seamless. Perfect. The Juke had a fantastic tranny. Snickety-snick through the gears. The GTI is a step above which I was not sure was possible. It is apparently. With Android Auto, there is no need for XM or navigation on this base model. Just plug your phone in and use the infotainment center to listen to what you want. Navigation through whatever app you want to use is right at your fingertips on the 6.5 inch screen. Heated seats are standard as is a back up camera that folks back into the rear hatch, protecting it from the elements and making it easy to see, even on an icy morning where a regular camera would be iced over or a rainy day when the camera would be smeared with rain water. And those plaid seats? Iconic and comfortable. Though I would normally prefer leather, these cloth seats are incredible. They are supportive, firm and look the part. Overall, this car is the most balanced car I have ever owned. It does everything well. This isn't just a jack of all trades auto, it's a master of all trades. Get This car Immediately (GTI). Seriously. UPDATE: still the best car I've ever owned. 20k miles and counting. Reliable, fun to drive, beautiful... SECOND UPDATE: 52k miles and still in love with this car. 2 recalls and no issues whatsoever. 32mpg average and loads of fun all around. We are nearing the 3 year ownership mark and couldn't be happier. THIRD UPDATE: 60k miles. Still wow. No issues other than the recalls and a stuck fuel injector that might have been bad gas. We love this car.
Autobahn 4dr Hatchback (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6M)
The Autobahn trim of this car is a fun daily driver, which is great for road trips as well. Besides the excellent handling, acceleration and braking, the adaptive dampers offer a smooth, controlled ride. Android Auto is well implemented and almost makes the built-in navigation and satellite radio superfluous. The adaptive cruise and other driving aids are mostly well done, but I wish they had included lane centering assist, instead of just lane keeping assist. Other nice to haves include automatic climate control, a more comfortable 12-way adjustable driver's seat, an auto-dimming rear-view mirror and self-parking. (I was skeptical about the utility of that last one, but it works well and assures I don't get "curb rash" when parallel parking.) Gripes are few: There were a couple of build issues, including a sunroof rattle and a problem with a minor trim piece that fell off, which was addressed by the dealer. While durable, the leather upholstery isn't of the highest quality, either. Overall, I'm very happy with the decision to go with the Autobahn and would recommend it to anyone who can afford the additional coin.
SE 4dr Hatchback (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6AM)
Bought the vehicle 3 weeks ago. The main reason for the choice is to have a smaller sized car with "peppy / sporty" driving characteristics for the city. The GTI is a fun little car and with the hatchback design still easy to use for storing some bulky items (55" TV in box fit perfect). Particular for city (San Fran) parking it is perfect. I like the acceleration and sportiness. The suspension is on the stiff side and potholes are for sure felt thru the body. Overall very good visibility and easy to get in and out too. 4 people fit nicely into the car. If anyone looks for a sporty compact vehicle I recommend the Golf GTI
SE 4dr Hatchback (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6AM)
Traded my 2016 GTI S model in to get the 2018 SE version. I loved my 2016 model, had absolutely no problems with it at all. The longer warranty and new safety features on the 2018 model were the primary factors behind my decision to let go of the 2016 version. I really like the new LED headlights and tail lights, the larger brakes and the electronic limited slip differential bring a noticeable improvement over my previous car. I wish that I had upgraded to the summer tires on both cars rather than stay with the stock versions. However I do like the ride and performance of the Hankooks that came on the 2018 car over the Bridgestones that came on the 2016 version. My 2016 car had the manual transmission which I loved but I went with the DSG transmission on 2018 which really is a better fit for me over the long run. While I'm not unhappy with the mpg I am seeing on the 2018 I got about 3-4 mpg better with the manual than I am getting with the DSG transmission. The low speed performance of the DSG is much better than I experienced with earlier versions on Jetta's that our family owned. I had been wanting a GTI for 25 years+ when I got the 2016 model and have not been disappointed with either car. Love taking it for drives on twisty mountain roads but frankly look forward to commuting to the office in it everyday as well. 5600 mile update - still love the car and definitely feel it was right to trade in my 2016 for the 2018 model. I have had no issues with either car. Additional features that the SE model has over the S that I appreciate. The larger touchscreen is a pleasure, the system is very intuitive and easy to master much better than those in many other manufacturers. I'm very happy with the quality of the sound system. The adaptive lighting system is great, high beams are phenomenal, low beam the cut off is sharp and I wish the reach was a bit farther. They are nice and bright and they have a wide spread which helps. Really like the electronic limited slip differential it really makes a difference on twisty roads and driving in the snow. The ride of the 2018 SE model seems to be a bit more comfortable than the 2016 S model. I'm not sure if it's the tires, the extra weight of the SE with the DSG transmission or if VW made some updates to the suspension. Whatever I do like the ride. I've had no mechanical issues, fit and finish still top notch as was my 2016 model. For me the choice to go with the DSG transmission was right. When in heavy traffic I can focus on the traffic and keep both hands on the steering wheel. Then I can switch to manual mode when driving in the countryside on windy roads. The safety features are very appreciated particularly the blind spot monitor and that the windshield wipers automatically turn on, I really like that the car is built solidly you never feel like your in inexpensive vehicle, you always feel like your in a much more expensive vehicle with no compromises. Dislikes not many but... I don't like that every time I start the car I have to disable the auto engine stop feature. I should be able to shut if off permanently. The 2018 model doesn't have the under front seat storage trays that the 2016 model had. I do miss the extra storage as the center console is very small. You really can't drive either models that I've had with the windows down due to excessive buffeting noise inside the car. On the SE model that includes with the sunroof open. Basically, I can only drive with an open sunroof at low speed under 30 miles an hour. For me it's not a deal breaker as I really love the GTI. 17,000 mile update- absolutely no mechanical or electrical issues to date and no problems with the technology on the vehicle nearly 3 years of ownership.
Features & Specs
Our experts like the Golf GTI models:
- Forward Collision Warning
- Warns the driver if a front collision, including with pedestrians, seems imminent. If necessary, can apply automatic emergency braking.
- Maneuver Braking
- Embedded within the front and rear parking sensor system, automatically applies the brakes if a collision with a nearby object seems likely.
- Lane Assist
- Warns the driver of vehicles in blind spots with a flashing LED. Can also apply countersteering to nudge the vehicle back into its lane.