The popular Volkswagen Golf heads into its seventh generation for 2016. Available in 2-door and 4-door hatches as well as a 4-door "sportwagen". The Golf 1.8T is powered by a 170-horsepower turbocharged 1.8L 4-cylinder. This is mated to either a 5-speed manual or 6-speed automatic transmission.
The Golf GTI, available with either two or four doors, comes with a potent turbocharged 2.0L 4-cylinder that produces 210 horsepower and 258 lb-feet of torque. It's offered with a choice of 6-speed conventional manual or DSG dual-clutch transmission.
The Sportwagen, based on the 4-door Golf hatch, features 30 cubic-feet of rear cargo space, expandable to an impressive 66 cubic-feet with the rear seats down. It comes with the 1.8L engine and the same choice of transmission options.
At the top of the range is the Golf R. With 4 doors, a very impressive engine and all-wheel drive, it is the ultimate European "hot-hatch." The Golf R comes with a highly tuned version of the GTI's 2.0L turbocharged engine that makes almost 300 horsepower. It comes with only the 6-speed DSG transmission, but is packed with premium standard features that include a sport-tuned suspension, 18-inch alloy wheels, HID headlamps, heated power-adjustable leather seats and dual-zone climate control.
Two-door 1.8T models are offered in base and S trims. The base trim includes 15-inch alloy wheels, power-adjustable and heated side mirrors, Bluetooth audio streaming and hands-free connectivity, an 8-speaker stereo with iPod hookup, 5.8-inch touchscreen and HD radio, as well as cloth seating with a 60/40 split folding rear seat. The S trim adds an upgraded radio with a 6.5" touchscreen and satellite radio, steering wheel audio controls, smartphone-integration, remote keyless entry and a leather shift knob.
For the 4-door and Sportwagens, three trims are offered: S, SE and SEL. In the SE, buyers will find 17-inch wheels, rain-sensing windshield wipers, halogen fog lights, a power panoramic sunroof and a rearview camera. Inside, amenities include a Fender premium audio system with eight speakers and a subwoofer and heated front seats. The top-of-the-line SEL trim includes 18-inch wheels, touchscreen navigation, dual-zone automatic climate control and front sport seats with 12-way power-adjustable driver's seat.
Available packages include a Lighting Package, with adaptive bi-Xenon headlights, which turn in conjunction with the car's movements down the road. The Driver Assistance Package features Park Distance Control with front and rear proximity sensors, as well as a Forward Collision Warning that alerts you when there's trouble ahead.
All Golfs come with standard safety features that include anti-lock brakes, traction control and engine braking assist, plus a host of airbags to protect the cabin.
There's no other car that does bang-for-your-buck better than the Volkswagen Golf GTI. It's friendly and fun, comfortable and functional. And it's not terribly expensive, either. The GTI might not be the fastest or comfiest or techiest or anything-est on paper, but this is a case where the whole is far, far greater than the sum of its parts. If I had to buy a brand-new daily driver right now, there's no question: I'd get the a GTI.
For the 2018 model year the GTI family receives more performance and better tech, with a couple of visual nip/tucks for good measure. None of this upsets the fantastic GTI package -- rather, these enhancements strengthen the core values that have always made VW's hot Golf one of the best all-around performance bargains. Nothing else at the $30,000 price point checks all the right boxes quite like the GTI.
I strongly believe that all performance cars are only as good as the base models they're built upon. So it's no surprise that a big part of the reason why the GTI is so great is because there's tons to like about Volkswagen's charming Golf hatchback.
The Good 2018 model year changes bring better tech and increased performance to Volkswagen’s iconic GTI.
The Bad Down on power compared with turbo toys from Ford and Subaru.
The Bottom Line A refined and everyday-usable package with plenty of pep in its step, the Volkswagen GTI is our kind of daily driver.
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