2018 Volkswagen Golf GTI
Our test drive of the 2018 Volkswagen Golf GTI confirmed the car is exactly what it looks like – a quick and nimble sports performance vehicle that delivers all kinds of bang for your buck.
But it doesn’t end there because you also get a sporty exterior and interior styling along with the fit and finish of a vehicle with a much greater price tag.
iDriveSoCal’s Professor, Clinton Quan, picked one up from Ontario Volkswagen for a recent test drive.
Continue reading or click play below to listen to the podcast with all the details on the 2018 VW Golf GTI.
Recorded in Los Angeles, CA
2018 Volkswagen Golf GTI Review
Clinton: You might be able to find another car with this level of performance in that price range.
But, you’re not going to find another car in the same price range with an interior that’s as nice as this car, that’s for sure.
Tom: Welcome to iDriveSoCal, the podcast all about mobility from the automotive capital of the United States, Southern California.
Tom Smith here with my good buddy, our good buddy, the Professor. Mr. Clinton Quan, say hello Clinton.
Clinton: Hi Tom.
Tom: Hello, my friend. Today’s podcast, we’re going to be talking about the good Professor’s test drive of a 2018 Volkswagen Golf GTI.
He picked that up from our good friends out at Ontario Volkswagen, in the Los Angeles suburb of Ontario, California.
Professor, I drove one of these cars recently and I loved it. It was a fun car to drive. I was thinking, if I could just get this on a track, that’d be a fun day.
Your iDSC Contact @ Ontario VW: Randy Halcomb: 909-772-1728 RHalcomb [at] OntarioVW [dot] com
Clinton: Oh yes, this is definitely a car you would want to take out to the track, especially on an autocross.
Tom: And we were just talking off mic, there’s plenty of space in the car, but the performance and the drive makes it feel like it’s a little go-cart. I took it easy-
Clinton: That’s a good way to describe it, yes.
2018 VW Golf GTI Trims And Prices
Tom: I took it easy, friends at Ontario Volkswagen, I took it easy as I’m sure the Professor did as well.
Candidly, Professor always drives a little bit more aggressively than I, but I tell you what man, a little bit of passing, a little bit in and out of traffic, that is exhilarating.
Clinton: Yes. It’s certainly exhilarating.
Tom: So, tell us about the old Golf GTI … not the old, the new 2018 Golf GTI.
Clinton: Yes. I test drove the 2018 Volkswagen Golf GTI SE, that is the mid-level trim.
There are three trims in the Golf GTI family; the base trim is the S, which starts at about $26,000, then there’s the SE, the middle-level trim, the one I drove, which starts at about $30,000 and then you have the top of the line trim, the Autobahn, which starts at about $35,000.
Tom: Now, that is a big swing between-
Clinton: About $9,000.
Tom: -the base to the Autobahn.
Golf GTI Engine
Tom: But yet all of these vehicles, the S, the SE, and the Autobahn, they all share the same engine?
Clinton: Yes, it is a 2.0-liter inline for turbocharge that produces 220 horsepower and 258-feet of torque.
So it’s got plenty of torque and plenty of horsepower especially for a car that size. It’s essentially the size of really a subcompact.
“…it is a 2.0-liter inline for turbocharge that produces 220 horsepower and 258-feet of torque.”
Tom: Therein lies the fun, right?
Tom: So, all three trims have the same motor, all three trims have the same trans and suspension as well, correct?
Tom: Okay. So that big swing between the base and the Autobahn is going to be …
Clinton: The standard equipment on Autobahn trim, for example, the one I drove, I notice it didn’t have a navigation system, and I know the Autobahn, it comes with a navigation system.
Tom: And the Autobahn is a hot item because… And I saw it in their showroom, it was absolutely gorgeous.
That was the one that you were supposed to drive, but it was sold just before you went to do your test drive.
Exterior Styling – 2018 Volkswagen Golf GTI
Tom: So, my assumption is that it’s a tough one even for dealers to get.
Clinton: Yeah, I would imagine it’s pretty limited trim to get, and most dealers probably wouldn’t have that many on their lot.
The majority of them would probably have the S and the SE, which are probably the top-selling trims.
“It’s definitely a really fun car and there’s not a lot of other cars in that class with that type of performance.”
Because once you start getting around 35,000 and then if there’s anything else you can add on top of that, you add taxes and fees, you’re looking at a car that’s close to $40,000.
Tom: But, well worth it because that’s one of the more fun cars I’ve driven in quite a while.
Clinton: It’s definitely a really fun car and there’s not a lot of other cars in that class with that type of performance.
Tom: Right, for that kind of money.
Clinton: For that type of money. There’s probably less than a handful of other cars.
Tom: And that brings me back to me personally, I’m all about value, just all about value. But there’s also a lot of curb appeal for this vehicle.
I mean, it’s a good looking ride too.
Clinton: It’s a good-looking ride and what I like most about the car is the interior.
It really reminds me of an Audi as well, it’s part of the Audi family.
Volkswagen And Audi Sibling Brands
I used to have an Audi TT with that same engine 2-liter, in line for a Turbo, and that car was so much fun. And as soon as I got into this vehicle, it really reminded me of the Audi TT, just a really, really fun car to drive.
And this car actually has quite a bit more torque than the TT I had, the TT had 207 I believe, on torque and 200 horsepower, but this one is rated 220 and 250 on torque.
Tom: Big difference.
Clinton: Yes, big difference.
Really well-designed interior.
2018 Golf GTI Interior
It’s got that flat-bottom steering wheel that I really like. The large circular gauges, the tachometer, the speedometer, and then that angled center console.
That’s with the audio and the climate controls, and it’s touchscreen as well. And it’s a big screen.
Tom: Very driver-focused, very driver-friendly.
“Very driver-focused, excellent ergonomics, the buttons, and controls that are right at your fingertips, right where you want them to be.”
Clinton: Very driver-focused, excellent ergonomics, the buttons, and controls that are right at your fingertips, right where you want them to be.
Tom: It’s a little thing, but I love the sportier cars when they put the little… I think it’s stainless steel accents on the pedals.
Clinton: Oh yeah.
Tom: That’s just like… I don’t know.
Clinton: That’s a nice little… Yeah.
Tom: It’s a nice touch.
Clinton: It’s a really nice touch, yes. And there’s still a good amount of legroom in the back. Well, at least for me.
Tom: No, no, there was for me too without a doubt, and I’m a little taller than you.
I’m not huge but I’m 5’10”, all closed up with just shoes on, 5’11”, almost six feet, but plenty of room.
So we usually go around the outside, then come to the inside, then talk about the drive, we’ve bounced all over the place on this one.
Traditional Volkswagen Design
Tom: Let’s try to bring some uniformity to this podcast just a little bit. Let’s go around the outside of the vehicle, we know it looks beautiful, but let’s talk specifically a little bit.
Clinton: Well, it’s got that traditional Volkswagen design.
It’s got really, really clean lines, a modern look to it, and Volkswagen calls it their hot hatch.
And, it’s a Hatchback, a photo Hatchback and it’s really, really sporty design and especially with those nice looking wheels on that GTI SE.
Tom: Yeah. The screaming Hatchback.
Tom: You could call it the screaming Hatchback. So that’s the outside, now, let’s take it inside, which we’ve already done as well, but talk specifics.
“It’s got really, really clean lines, a modern look to it, and Volkswagen calls it their hot hatch.”
Clinton: It’s got really nice supportive seats.
The SE I drove, it’s got the cloth seats. But, what I really liked really is the design of the dashboard and the gauges, large circular gauges, easy to read, flat-bottom steering wheel.
Also, I mentioned the center stack with the audio and climate controls, it’s angled towards the driver, so it makes it really easy to read and operate.
Driving The 2018 VW Golf GTI
Tom: And then the drive itself, the specifics, where did you go?
Clinton: I took the GTI SE up to Lake Arrowhead. I took it on … let’s see, the 210, then I drove up highway 18, and then down highway 330.
Clinton: So, a number of winding roads where I got to really test the acceleration and braking as well-
Tom: And suspension on the winding roads-
“I took the GTI SE up to Lake Arrowhead… a number of winding roads where I got to really test the acceleration and braking… it’s a really fun car to drive on the winding roads.”
Clinton: Suspension on the winding roads-
Clinton: -it’s a really fun car to drive on the winding roads.
Tom: It should be a theme in this podcast, it’s a really fun car drive.
Clinton: Yes. I mapped out the route, I wanted to take a route where I could really test out the suspension and the handling of the vehicle. And it did not disappoint.
Tom: It did not disappoint and mission accomplished the way that you mapped it out, it worked out just fine for you.
Clinton: It worked out just fine.
Tom: So, at the end of this test drive, the professor brings the vehicle back with a big grin ear to ear.
Safety Technology – Intelligent Crash System
Tom: Okay. So anything else before we get to the top three?
Clinton: I think we’ve covered most of it. Well, I also wanted to mention, I was reading about some of the safety technology on the vehicle.
They have this … I think it’s called the Intelligent Crash System, where the doors will unlock, the hazard light goes on-
Tom: So, on impact, it automatically does all those things for you?
Clinton: Yeah, which is kind of cool.
Tom: That’s is smart, that’s some great tech.
Clinton: So that’s why they call it the Intelligent Crash System.
Volkswagen Fit And Finish
Tom: You got to hand it to Volkswagen. I was doing a podcast with Jimmy Willhide, who is Ontario of Volkswagen’s, one of their service advisers and he actually owns eight Volkswagens.
We were talking about just the detail of the vehicle, he mentioned when you shut a Volkswagen’s door, it’s a solid door.
“…You can feel the quality of Volkswagens, and not only do you feel it, but you see it.”
Tom: You can hear it shut.
Clinton: You can feel the quality of Volkswagens, and not only do you feel it, but you see it.
And the other thing I wanted to mention is, you might be able to find another car with this level of performance in that price range.
But, you’re not going to find another car in the same price range with an interior that’s as nice as this car, that’s for sure.
Tom: And what Jimmy was… and I brought it up and Jimmy concurred, I used the phrase, “Fit and finish” which you hear a lot in vehicle circles, right?
Tom: But what does that really mean? It’s like to me, it means attention to detail and some of that… Jimmy Willhide and I were talking, we were talking fit and finish.
And, and what does that really mean? To me, it means attention to detail, and what Jimmy was mentioning was, hey, you can…
He didn’t say that the tool micrometer, but what you could look at the lines between the quarter panels and the doors.
Volkswagen And Other Euro-Carmakers
Or, the lines between any of the panels of the vehicle and they all measure out, they’re all just specific and tight. And you get that typically with German vehicles overall.
“…what’s impressive about Golf and the GTI is the high-level fit and finish and attention to detail that you’re getting on basically an entry-level vehicle.”
Tom: But this isn’t a Benz, this isn’t a BMW, this isn’t an Audi, this is a Volkswagen, which is well within … Volkswagen has something within pretty much any car buyer’s price range.
Clinton: Yes. And I think that’s what’s impressive about Golf and the GTI is the high-level fit and finish and attention to detail that you’re getting on basically an entry-level vehicle.
The Golf is the smallest vehicle in the Volkswagen family.
Tom: But it’s an entry-level vehicle with that fit and finish, and it’s a little race car.
Tom: Which is fun.
Clinton: Yes, that’s what’s so impressive about it.
2018 Volkswagen Golf GTI – Top-3 Features
Tom: Right. Now that we’ve sung the 2018 Volkswagen Golf GTI praises, I hate to say it to you, but you’re going to have to narrow down to your top three things.
- Engine: 220hp & 258 lb-ft of torque
- Interior: Quality, detail & ergonomics
- Price: Great value @ Ontario Volkswagen
Clinton: Top three, wow. I’ll definitely have to go with the engine, that’s got a lot of power and it’s just such a fun car to drive.
So with 220 horsepower, 258 pound-feet to torque, this thing really moves. You step on it and you feel it right away, so that’s my number one pick.
My number two pick, I got to go with that interior.
“…that’s probably the best bang for your buck right there at around $30,000 for that level of performance.”
Tom: I would have guessed that.
Clinton: Yeah, and the high-quality interior, excellent design, great ergonomics, really good attention to detail, so that would be my number two pick.
Clinton: And then number three, probably I would have to go with the price for the SE, that’s probably the best bang for your buck right there at around $30,000 for that level of performance.
Tom: Okay. No surprises there for the professor’s top three, but as always, thank you for another vehicle review.
Big thanks to our friends out at Ontario Volkswagen, right off the 15 in the Los Angeles suburb of Ontario, California, a great friend of the show.
If you are looking Volkswagen, you have to go to Ontario Volkswagen, go on out there, the general manager is Earl Reid, a good friend, Randy Halcombe, a good friend.
Shant Bashin, the new sales manager, we just did a piece on him. And he’s a Volkswagen hardcore guy too, just like Jimmy Willhide.
Thank you guys out in Ontario Volkswagen, and thank you for listening. For iDriveSoCal, I’m Tom Smith. We’ll talk to you soon.