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2018 Volkswagen Golf GTI Review: The daily-driver hot hatch

Bang in your buck. No automobile does it higher than the Volkswagen Golf Gti. It is pleasant and enjoyable, comfy and practical. And it is not terribly costly, both. The GTI may not be the quickest or comfiest or techiest or anything-est on paper, however it is a case the place the entire is way, far better than the sum of its elements. If I had to purchase a brand-new every day driver right now, it would be a GTI. No query.

A number of 2018 mannequin 12 months updates brings extra efficiency and higher tech to the GTI household, with a few visible nip/tucks for good measure. None of this upsets the unbelievable GTI package deal — fairly, these enhancements strengthen the core values which have all the time made VW’s scorching Golf top-of-the-line all-around efficiency bargains. Nothing else on the $30,000 worth level checks all the best packing containers fairly just like the GTI.

Volkswagen solely gives the five-door GTI physique model within the US.

Steven Ewing/Roadshow

Type and performance

I strongly consider that each one efficiency automobiles are solely nearly as good as the bottom fashions they’re constructed upon. So it is no shock large a part of the explanation why the GTI is so nice is as a result of there’s tons to love about Volkswagen’s charming Golf hatchback.

That begins with design. The good-looking Golf form is not accomplished up with formidable boy-racer add-ons; you will not discover a large wing, hood scoop or pretend fender vents on the GTI. Sure, the decrease entrance fascia homes bigger air intakes and vertically oriented LED fog lights. Sure, there is a purple stripe alongside the grille that continues into the headlight housings. And sure, fan-like 18-inch wheels aggressively fill out the wells in any respect 4 corners. However parked subsequent to a Ford Focus ST, Honda Civic Si or Subaru WRX, the GTI’s inherent hooliganism is decidedly much less apparent.

This top-shelf Autobahn mannequin comes with leather-based upholstery. In order for you the GTI’s iconic tartan material beneath your butt, it’s a must to get an S or SE trim.

Steven Ewing/Roadshow

There’s extra Golf goodness inside, with an inside that is as upscale as it’s usable. Excessive-quality supplies and nice match and end are the highlights of the GTI’s cabin, which on the entire appears and feels extra premium than any of its rivals. My top-level Autobahn tester comes with leather-based upholstery, and whereas that is not the manner I might spec my GTI (extra on that in a minute), the seats are comfy and supportive, in addition to heated and power-adjustable. Buttons and knobs are saved to a minimal; the automobile’s controls are simple to find and intuitive to function.

Rear seat area is… superb. Head- and legroom are about common for the compact hatch phase. Which is to say, I would not make a behavior of transporting full-size adults again there on the common, however for once in a while, the GTI is completely satisfied to accommodate.

The profit to the hatchback form, after all, is a plentiful cargo maintain. With the rear seats in place, the GTI will haul 22.Eight cubic toes of groceries ‘n’ issues. Fold the seat backs flat to the ground, and there is a beneficiant 52.7 cubic toes of area accessible, which bests the Focus ST’s 43.9 cubic toes. Honda and Subaru, in the meantime, do not supply hatchback variations of the Civic Si or WRX. Unhappy trombone.

The Golf GTI’s 2.Zero-liter turbo engine has 220 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque.

Steven Ewing/Roadshow

Higher tech, however not one of the best

This GTI Autobahn comes with Volkswagen’s newest MIB II infotainment suite, housed behind an Eight.Zero-inch glass touchscreen that is now flush-mounted within the heart console. With brilliant colours and crisp fonts, the GTI’s interface is simple to learn and navigate, and I like the proximity sensors that carry up management menus as your fingers method the display. Response occasions might be improved — it is not fairly Uconnect fast — and man, there certain are plenty of menus to work by way of for automobile setup and driver help tech. Oh, and if you would like the bigger MIB display, it’s a must to get the upper-level SE or Autobahn trims. The bottom GTI S makes do with an older, smaller, 6.5-inch interface with bodily buttons on both facet.

Solely Autobahn fashions include manufacturing facility navigation, however that is not a giant demerit, as Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are commonplace on each single GTI. Volkswagen’s Automobile-Web suite of distant app companies is commonplace, as effectively, the place house owners can subscribe to varied ranges of distant security, safety, and roadside help packages for an annual payment. (Simply keep in mind that when your subscription runs out, that SOS button will not do something.)

SE and Autobahn trims include an Eight-inch touchscreen infotainment system.

Steven Ewing/Roadshow

What I actually need, nevertheless, is a model of Volkswagen’s new Digital Cockpit — itself a model of the Digital Cockpit interface utilized in Audi’s newest automobiles. Volkswagen solely gives Digital Cockpit on the highest trims of its Atlas and Tiguan SUVs for now, in addition to the Golf R and e-Golf, and this tech cannot democratize quick sufficient. That tiny show housed between the GTI’s speedometer and tachometer is beginning to look fairly outdated, by comparability.

As for driver help options, the GTI S comes with a rearview digicam and… that is about it. SE and Autobahn trims get ahead collision warning, computerized emergency braking and blind-spot monitoring. The Autobahn provides commonplace ParkPilot too, although contemplating the GTI’s diminutive dimension and nice visibility, parking help is hardly vital function. That mentioned, a giant purpose to get the Autobahn is for its adaptive cruise management, which may even be had on automobiles geared up with a guide transmission.

Volkswagen gives a fancy-shmancy Digital Cockpit gauge cluster, however you’ll be able to’t get it on the US-spec GTI. Womp womp.

Steven Ewing/Roadshow

Day by day driver after which some

On the threat of utilizing a drained Goldilocks analogy, I am going to simply say my favourite factor in regards to the GTI is how “excellent” it feels by way of being a sporty every day driver. The two.Zero-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine is acquainted, making 220 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque in each model of the GTI. I make that distinction as a result of, within the 2015-17 fashions, automobiles not fitted with the Efficiency Pack made simply 210 hp. That is all been resolved for 2018, and SE and Autobahn fashions now come commonplace with the beforehand non-compulsory upgraded brakes (from the Golf R) and limited-slip differential.

The GTI’s output numbers are outshone by the 252-hp Focus ST and 268-hp WRX, nevertheless it’s the VW’s finesse that makes it the one I might need to drive daily. Round city, it behaves with large civility, its linear wave of energy providing ample thrust to dart across the notorious left-lane Prius.

These 18-inch wheels aren’t fairly as cool as the enduring MkV “Detroit” rollers, however they’re nonetheless fairly rad.

Steven Ewing/Roadshow

That is to not say it is not a formidable performer, after all. On the canyon roads outdoors of Los Angeles, I am giddy as I toss the GTI into tight corners. The small, predictable quantities of roll are matched with crisp turn-in and cornering motion that is almost freed from understeer, because of the GTI’s trick XDS torque-vectoring entrance differential. Solely the Autobahn trim comes with Volkswagen’s DCC adaptive chassis management system, which adjusts suspension damping relying on the chosen drive mode (Regular, Sport, Consolation, or choose-your-own-adventure Particular person). With out having pushed S or SE variations but, I am unable to inform you if the DCC considerably adjustments the driving expertise sufficient to make me flat-out advocate the Autobahn, but when my intensive expertise within the pre-face-lift GTI is something to go on, I think you may discover this hatch to be simply as scorching must you go for a lesser trim.

My automobile’s six-speed guide transmission is an absolute pleasure to make use of, with comparatively brief throws and a properly weighted clutch pedal. It is easy to maintain the turbo engine on boil, too — up within the canyons, I can depart the GTI in third gear for lengthy stretches of back-and-forth esses, understanding I am going to by no means run out of energy. You will get a six-speed dual-clutch computerized if you want, however there is no actual profit. The shifts are faster, certain, however the DSG gearbox prices more cash, provides weight and would not supply any bump in gasoline economic system. In reality, the guide’s EPA rankings of 25 mpg metropolis, 33 mpg freeway and 28 mpg mixed all signify 1-mpg enhancements over a DSG-equipped GTI.

The GTI is extremely good-looking — not almost as bro-tastic because the over-styled Focus ST.

Steven Ewing/Roadshow

The one I might get

You should purchase a GTI for as little as $27,265 (together with $850 for vacation spot), however the candy spot within the GTI lineup is the midrange SE, beginning at $30,470 with the six-speed guide transmission. You get the Autobahn’s larger brakes and limited-slip diff, in addition to full LED exterior lighting and the bigger Eight.Zero-inch infotainment system. You aren’t getting manufacturing facility navigation, however you do get Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, each with built-in map performance. Plus, SE fashions include heated material seats accomplished up in Volkswagen’s iconic tartan print, and albeit, I would not purchase a GTI with out ’em. Make mine Nice Falls Inexperienced.

A perennial favourite

Each one of many GTI’s rivals places up a heck of a battle, all of them with reward factors the Volkswagen merely cannot match. The Ford Focus ST has much more energy. The Subaru WRX has all-wheel drive. Honda’s Civic Si is available in at a a lot cheaper price. So does the Hyundai Elantra GT Sport. However whereas these automobiles compromise their excellence in different areas, the GTI merely earns excessive marks throughout the board. It isn’t one of the best at anyone factor — as an alternative, it is actually good at all the things. And it is this cohesive greatness that retains the GTI on the prime of its class 12 months after 12 months.

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2018 Volkswagen Golf GTI Review: The daily-driver hot hatch


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