Still the Best – 2018 Volkswagen Golf GTI Manual – TESTED
The 2018 Volkswagen Golf GTI is as satisfying as popping bubble wrap or finding $20 in your jeans pocket: it’s as comforting as a warm cup of cocoa on a cold evening or putting your feet up in front of a roaring log fire. Since 1976, Volkswagen has given us a practical 5 door hatch with a sporting pedigree that has given much more expensive and exotic cars a run for their money. The original one had just 110 hp but it was light and nimble and was very easy to drive. 0-60 was dispatched in 8.1 seconds which was quicker than a Jaguar XJ-S of the same time. Volkswagen had a winner.
Fast forward to today and I finally got my hands on a 2018 Golf GTI with a manual transmission, the way it should be. Don’t get me wrong the DSG is incredibly quick and you’ll never shift faster in the manual, but there’s something sublime in the way the stick shift works with this engine. The US doesn’t have the more powerful version of this engine yet but VW has simplified its offering by discarding the Performance Pack and given all versions the 220 hp, 258-lb-ft 2.0 turbo 4.
The 3 flavors are S, SE and Autobahn, the last 2 come with SE and Autobahn models come with a bunch of driver-assistance features like adaptive cruise control, lane keeping assist, lane departure warning, automatic emergency braking, pedestrian detection, forward collision warning, and blind-spot warning with rear cross-traffic alert.
The SE and Autobahn models now come standard with the previously optional upgraded brakes taken from the Golf R and that fantastic limited-slip differential which make you forget you are driving a front wheel drive car. With some chirping from the front tires we launched the GTI from 0-60 in 6.0 seconds dead, a tad slower than it’s DSG brother but still quick. Besides this car is way better on the move.
How Does It Drive?
The 6-speed manual gearbox makes the GTI even more pleasurable to drive than the optional DSG, despite slightly slower progress because there is a human involved. The clutch action is light and precise if a little long in travel and the shifter moves accurately and fluidly meaning missed shifts are rare. The standard hill hold system works well but due to the long clutch pedal travel it takes a bit to get used to it.
On the road the GTI is like a fine wine, it just gets better and better. Turn is crisp when the road starts getting twisty and you can rely on the GTI’s terrific front-end grip and good body control to get you round with no drama. There is some roll but the GTI’s steering is beautifully accurate and weights up nicely so you always know what the …read more
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