2018 Volkswagen Golf GTI Review
2018 Volkswagen Golf GTI Review
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Used Golf GTI for sale
Edmunds' Expert Review
Reviews EditorDan spent many years covering the go-fast, look-good, get-loud corners of the automotive universe. First, he served as editor of enthusiast magazines AutoSound and Honda Tuning, then as executive editor at SEMA News, the publishing arm of the trade group that produces the annual SEMA Show (yes, that show).
- 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
For 2018, the VW Golf GTI pares down trim levels to three choices. All get the formerly optional 10-horsepower increase, so every 2018 GTI now puts out 220 hp. The two top trims also offer new standard features, including LED headlights, driver safety aids, upgraded performance brakes and larger touchscreen displays.
One drive in a 2018 Volkswagen Golf GTI and you'll understand why this model has become something of an icon since its American debut in 1983. Like the standard Golf on which it is based, the Golf GTI offers plenty of practicality and interior materials that feel as if they were pulled from a more expensive German car.
Cost to DriveCost to drive estimates for the 2018 Volkswagen Golf GTI SE 4dr Hatchback (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6M) and comparison vehicles are based on 15,000 miles per year (with a mix of 55% city and 45% highway driving) and energy estimates of $4.62 per gallon for premium unleaded in Virginia.
Monthly estimates based on costs in Virginia
Golf GTI SE
Avg. Compact Car
But where the Golf emphasizes fuel economy and a competitive price, the GTI ratchets up the excitement with a punchy engine, a quick-shifting automatic transmission and stylish upholstery. As befits a performance car, the GTI sits a little lower and rides a little stiffer than the regular Golf, which degrades ride quality somewhat. The payoff, however, is heroic stability and grip in turns.
The GTI isn't the only choice among the so-called hot hatches; Ford, Mini and Subaru also make convincing alternatives. The GTI isn't even VW's top-performing hatch. For that, there's the much more hardcore (and expensive) Golf R. But for drivers who prize fun and practicality, the GTI checks all the right boxes.
Edmunds' Expert Rating8.4 / 10
One drive in a 2018 Volkswagen Golf GTI and you'll understand why this model has become something of an icon since its American debut in 1983. With its ample performance, roomy versatility and refined interior, it remains a step ahead of many of its rivals.
Each vehicle typically comes in multiple versions that are fundamentally similar. The ratings in this review are based on our full test of the Volkswagen Golf GTI Autobahn (turbo 2.0L inline-4 | 6-speed manual | FWD).
|Overall||8.4 / 10|
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.
Even though maximum torque comes at a low 1,500 rpm, it takes a couple ticks before the turbo engages. But when you do hit that boost point, the GTI feels properly quick. The numbers don't exactly bear that out. At our test track, our best 0-60 mph run in a 2018 model took 6.8 seconds, which is slower than the Focus ST and the same as the less powerful Civic Si.
The brake pedal feels a little light and doesn't offer much initial braking force. Although you'll have to press the pedal a little firmer than you might think, the brakes are never grabby. But ultimate performance is a disappointment. The GTI required a long 134 feet to stop from 60 mph in our testing, which is much longer than other like-minded sporty hatches. We blame the all-season tires; a previous GTI we tested with summer tires stopped considerably shorter.
The GTI has good on-center feel with an immediate but gradual reaction to steering input when moving the wheel from center. The steering effort is light in most modes, firming up noticeably but not uncomfortably in Sport mode. The effort builds up slightly as speed increases.
At a moderate pace, the GTI takes on long, sweeping turns and tight corners amicably with little body roll. Driving it hard will reveal the limits of front-wheel drive, even with the electronic differential. There's simply more understeer than we expect. Our GTI test car wore the standard all-season tires; the optional summer tires would have performed better.
The clutch pedal strikes the perfect balance between firm enough to modulate effectively and light enough to use in heavy city traffic. Thanks to a catch point that is right off the floor and a hill-hold assist feature, it's easy for first-timers to learn how to drive stick.
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 front seats are eminently comfortable and supportive, with prominent bolsters that keep you planted without being intrusive. The rear seatbacks and bottoms are set at comfortable angles, though the bottoms are short. The leather upholstery is a little stiff.
Ride comfort is superlative thanks to the adjustable dampers unique to the Autobahn trim. In Comfort and Normal modes, the GTI is supple, not unlike the standard Golf. Sport mode stiffens the dampers for a ride that is undoubtedly busier but not harsh.
Noise & vibration8.0
For better or worse, you'll always hear the engine note, no matter how fast you're going. It offers a pleasant thrum while idling and cruising, and it sounds good enough while accelerating. Road noise is noticeable but not terribly intrusive. There's quite a bit of wind noise at highway speeds.
Dual-zone automatic climate control is unique to the Autobahn, and it works well to keep the cabin cool on a warm day. The heated front seats get comfortably warm rather than truly hot. Even though the shade is perforated, the sunroof does not let heat radiate into the cabin.
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.
Ease of use8.5
Most physical controls are within reach and easy to understand. The only exception is those on the steering wheel; it will take some time to figure out what all the buttons do. The touchscreen's user interface features a logical menu layout and numerous buttons to access high-level functions easily.
Getting in/getting out8.5
The GTI's tall, flat roofline provides easy entry for all passengers. The high doorsills hamper exiting slightly. You'll have to pull your feet closer to your body than you would in rivals as you get out of the vehicle. The doors' grab handles are large and sturdy and don't require much force to close.
The height-adjustable seat and tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel provide a generous range of motion, though the driving position feels a little high. The instrument panel is easy to see no matter how you position the wheel. An adjustable center armrest also helps out with getting an ideal seating position.
There's abundant headroom for tall passengers, even with the sunroof. Shoulder room is good, too, but the narrow middle seat and intrusive transmission tunnel mean that three-across seating should only be attempted occasionally. There's plenty of front legroom, while rear legroom is tight for adults.
The thin front pillars and tall windows provide an expansive view forward and to the sides. The long rear doors allow for plenty of glass in the rear three-quarter view, helping to minimize blind spots. The rear pillar is slightly wider than average, but it's still very easy to see out the back.
While it's not as visually interesting as what you'll find in some rival hot hatches, the GTI's reserved cabin design will undoubtedly age better. There are a few hard plastics, but the faux-leather door trim and carbon fiber-like door and dash trim give it an upscale feel.
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 GTI makes excellent use of its limited interior space. The tall, long front door pockets will each hold a pair of water bottles, while each rear door pocket has room for one water bottle. Additional storage can be found beneath the center console, under the armrest and in the sizable glovebox.
The cargo area is wide and flat and offers 22.8 cubic feet of storage. You'll have to move the front seats forward to fold the rear seats flat. The cargo area increases to 52.7 cubes, one of the largest in the segment.
Child safety seat accommodation8.0
Two seat anchors are located on each of the outboard rear seats. They are concealed under removable and easily accessible plastic covers. Attaching a strap to either of the seatback tethers requires removing the cargo cover. The cramped back seat might make installing a rear-facing car seat difficult.
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.
Audio & navigation9.0
We liked the GTI's previous infotainment system, and the new version (paired with a larger 8-inch touchscreen) is even better. High-definition graphics complement an easy-to-operate user interface. Thoughtful touches, such as virtual buttons that fade away as you move your hand from the screen, further enhance its appeal. We like that you can preview artist and song info before switching radio stations. The Fender audio system gets pretty loud, with little clarity loss as you increase the volume.
The GTI supports multiple physical media inputs for listening to audio files. A CD player and SD card reader are located in the glovebox, while an auxiliary input and USB port reside under the center console. Many competitors offer multiple USB ports. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are standard.
The Autobahn is loaded with features you won't find on other trims, including front and rear sensors, automated parking and lane departure warning. Adaptive cruise control is available in conjunction with the manual transmission, keeping the set speed even as you shift gears and blip the throttle.
The voice control system is quite good at identifying names in your contact list. If you're in the correct radio band, it's also easy to switch radio stations. However, switching stations on different bands — between satellite radio and FM, for example — is more difficult. Natural speech detection is minimal.
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.
2018 Volkswagen Golf GTI models
The 2018 Volkswagen Golf GTI is a four-door hatchback that seats five. It's available in three trim levels: S, SE and Autobahn. The S comes well-equipped for a base model (automatic headlights, heated front seats, Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto), but lacks some more common features and conveniences. The SE fills in the gaps with amenities such as a sunroof, driver aids and upgraded entertainment. The Autobahn doesn't equip the GTI for life on the famous German superhighway, but it does make life notably more comfortable for the driver with leather upholstery, a premium sound system, and even a self-parking system.
All GTI models are front-wheel-drive and use a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine (220 horsepower, 258 pound-feet of torque) paired with a six-speed manual or a six-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission.
For a base trim, the S comes with some nice features, including 18-inch alloy wheels, high-performance tires, LED foglights, heated mirrors, rain-sensing wipers, cloth upholstery, heated front seats, ambient interior lighting, and a 60/40-split folding rear seats with a center pass-through. Technology features include a 6.5-inch touchscreen display, a rearview camera, Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto smartphone integration, and an eight-speaker sound system.
Moving up to the SE, our recommended trim, adds upgraded brakes (same as those on the Golf R), a limited-slip differential, LED headlights, a sunroof, keyless entry, push-button ignition, an 8-inch touchscreen display, an eight-speaker sound system with CD player, satellite radio, and VW Car-Net Security and Service connected services. It also gets driver assistance features that include forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert.
Leather upholstery is the only option for SE models. It is, in fact, the only option available for the whole 2018 GTI lineup.
Finally, the Autobahn trim adds an adaptive suspension, automatic high beams, a power-adjustable driver seat, a navigation system, and a subwoofer-enhanced Fender sound system. The Autobahn also showcases Volkswagen's most current driver assistance and safety features, including adaptive cruise control, automatic high beams, front and rear parking sensors with Maneuver Braking (automatically applies the brakes if a collision with nearby objects while parking seems likely), a self-parking system (Park Assist), and a lane departure warning/lane keeping assist system.
4.8 out of 5 stars
Most helpful consumer reviews
5 out of 5 stars
Get This car Immediately (See what I did there?)
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.
4 out of 5 stars
Great daily driver for the car enthusiast
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.
5 out of 5 stars
Life is too short to drive a Toyota
S 4dr Hatchback (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6M)
I have owned Toyota's pretty much my entire life, i had never given much thought to any other car brand. I would buy one after another, and i would modify them to my liking, but as you get older you have less of a desire to drop another 5K into a new car to make it fun, and once Toyota killed off the manual transmission in nearly everything they make, i was brought to try to find another … brand i would like. I drove Hyundai, KIA, Honda, ford, GM, and Fiat, and then i drove the VW. While reliability may be far worse than the Toyota, or Honda, (only time will tell) the VW just feels special. The steering input, the way the shifter feels in your hand, the feedback from the steering wheel as you are downshifting into a tight bend, all make you exited about driving, the car feels well balanced, and you can use your own eyes to see out of it. I fit lumbar into it on the weekends when i go to home depot, it carries my dogs, it's extremely comfortable and easy to drive on the highway, and if you put it in eco mode, and drive it under 80 you can easily get 40mpg out of it. It really is an amazing car.. Mine is a base model with the Performance Package, honestly though, i wish i just bought the base model, it's really just that good of a car, the performance package is really only noticeable on the track. If you don't track the car, skip the PP.
5 out of 5 stars
Goft GTI SE / Leather
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
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.
NHTSA Overall Rating5 out of 5 stars
The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration offers independent analysis.
- Frontal Barrier Crash RatingOverall4 / 5Driver4 / 5Passenger5 / 5
- Side Crash RatingOverall5 / 5
- Side Barrier RatingOverall5 / 5Driver5 / 5Passenger5 / 5
- Combined Side Barrier & Pole RatingsFront Seat5 / 5Back Seat5 / 5
- RolloverRollover4 / 5Dynamic Test ResultNo TipRisk Of Rollover11.1%
The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety uses extensive crash tests to determine car safety.
- Side Impact TestGood
- Roof Strength TestGood
- Rear Crash Protection / Head RestraintGood
- IIHS Small Overlap Front TestNot Tested
- Moderate Overlap Front TestGood
More about the 2018 Volkswagen Golf GTI
Used 2018 Volkswagen Golf GTI Overview
The Used 2018 Volkswagen Golf GTI is offered in the following submodels: Golf GTI Hatchback. Available styles include SE 4dr Hatchback (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6M), S 4dr Hatchback (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6AM), Autobahn 4dr Hatchback (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6M), S 4dr Hatchback (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6M), SE 4dr Hatchback (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6AM), and Autobahn 4dr Hatchback (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6AM). Pre-owned Volkswagen Golf GTI models are available with a 2.0 L-liter gas engine, with output up to 220 hp, depending on engine type. The Used 2018 Volkswagen Golf GTI comes with front wheel drive. Available transmissions include: 6-speed manual, 6-speed automated manual. The Used 2018 Volkswagen Golf GTI comes with a 6 yr./ 72000 mi. basic warranty, a 3 yr./ 36000 mi. roadside warranty, and a 6 yr./ 72000 mi. powertrain warranty.
What's a good price on a Used 2018 Volkswagen Golf GTI?
Price comparisons for Used 2018 Volkswagen Golf GTI trim styles:
- The Used 2018 Volkswagen Golf GTI SE is priced between $24,499 and$31,990 with odometer readings between 14233 and80273 miles.
- The Used 2018 Volkswagen Golf GTI S is priced between $23,990 and$28,590 with odometer readings between 23409 and92362 miles.
- The Used 2018 Volkswagen Golf GTI Autobahn is priced between $28,750 and$34,000 with odometer readings between 7628 and56716 miles.
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Which used 2018 Volkswagen Golf GTIS are available in my area?
Shop Edmunds' car, SUV, and truck listings of over 6 million vehicles to find a cheap new, used, or certified pre-owned (CPO) 2018 Volkswagen Golf GTI for sale near. There are currently 32 used and CPO 2018 Golf GTIS listed for sale in your area, with list prices as low as $23,990 and mileage as low as 7628 miles. Simply research the type of car you're interested in and then select a used car from our massive database to find cheap prew-owned vehicles for sale near you. Once you have identified a used vehicle you're interested in, check the AutoCheck vehicle history reports, read dealer reviews, and find out what other owners paid for the Used 2018 Volkswagen Golf GTI.
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Should I lease or buy a 2018 Volkswagen Golf GTI?
Is it better to lease or buy a car? Ask most people and they'll probably tell you that car buying is the way to go. And from a financial perspective, it's true, provided you're willing to make higher monthly payments, pay off the loan in full and keep the car for a few years. Leasing, on the other hand, can be a less expensive option on a month-to-month basis. It's also good if you're someone who likes to drive a new car every three years or so.