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
Other years
Volkswagen Golf GTI for Sale
List Price Range
$21,777 - $30,998

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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

Overall rating

8.4 / 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. 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.

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.

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.

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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.

Trim tested

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).


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.

Seat comfort

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

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 & vibration

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.

Climate control

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 use

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 out

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.

Driving position

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.

Small-item storage

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.

Cargo space

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 accommodation

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 & navigation

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.

Smartphone integration

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.

Driver aids

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.

Voice control

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.


Overall8.4 / 10

Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the Used 2018 Volkswagen Golf GTI.

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Most helpful consumer reviews

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.
Great daily driver for the car enthusiast
Brian Campbell,05/12/2018
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.
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
My fun car
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.


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 Rating

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration offers independent analysis.
  • Frontal Barrier Crash Rating
    Overall4 / 5
    Driver4 / 5
    Passenger5 / 5
  • Side Crash Rating
    Overall5 / 5
  • Side Barrier Rating
    Overall5 / 5
    Driver5 / 5
    Passenger5 / 5
  • Combined Side Barrier & Pole Ratings
    Front Seat5 / 5
    Back Seat5 / 5
  • Rollover
    Rollover4 / 5
    Dynamic Test ResultNo Tip
    Risk Of Rollover11.1%
IIHS Rating
The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety uses extensive crash tests to determine car safety.
  • Side Impact Test
  • Roof Strength Test
  • Rear Crash Protection / Head Restraint
  • IIHS Small Overlap Front Test
    Not Tested
  • Moderate Overlap Front Test

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 S 4dr Hatchback (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6AM), Autobahn 4dr Hatchback (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6M), Autobahn 4dr Hatchback (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6AM), SE 4dr Hatchback (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6M), S 4dr Hatchback (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6M), and SE 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 automated manual, 6-speed 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 S is priced between $21,777 and$27,002 with odometer readings between 8531 and58454 miles.
  • The Used 2018 Volkswagen Golf GTI SE is priced between $24,000 and$27,172 with odometer readings between 21789 and56560 miles.
  • The Used 2018 Volkswagen Golf GTI Autobahn is priced between $27,995 and$30,998 with odometer readings between 11099 and30344 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 15 used and CPO 2018 Golf GTIS listed for sale in your area, with list prices as low as $21,777 and mileage as low as 8531 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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Find a used Volkswagen Golf GTI for sale - 5 great deals out of 12 listings starting at $18,407.

Find a used Volkswagen for sale - 3 great deals out of 12 listings starting at $13,543.

Find a used certified pre-owned Volkswagen Golf GTI for sale - 3 great deals out of 10 listings starting at $7,632.

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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.

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