There’s a reason why the Volkswagen Golf GTI is fetishized by journalists and enthusiasts as perhaps the perfect daily-driver sporty car.
Because if it isn’t, it’s damn near close.
Changes for 2018 were minimal. The 2018 got a mild standard horsepower bump (assuming you’re using premium fuel) to 220, up from 210. Other changes included a reshuffled trim lineup, newly available LED headlights, larger infotainment, and driver-assist tech that was now standard on the SE and Autobahn trims. It also gained the Golf R’s brakes and an available electronically controlled limited-slip differential.
Depending on how pedantic you feel like being, one can argue that the original Volkswagen GTI was not the first hot hatch. Alec Issigonis, with the revolutionary Mini, clearly inspired Volkswagen to move to the space-saving front-engine, front-drive, two-box form factor, even though the Austin/Morris original never had a true hatchback. No matter. Whatever the lineage, there’s no arguing that keeping mechanical bits in a separate box from the fleshy bits can yield impressive room from a small car.
My personal fleet reflects my typical suburban middle-class life — a minivan, a body-on-frame midsize SUV, and a midlife crisis disguising itself as a roadster-shaped shelf in the garage, not to mention the press car gravy train making frequent stops. And while my wife and I drive separately to our respective offices, pretty much all other times we are together in a single car.
I sometimes forget that many families throughout the world really don’t have a use for multiple vehicles — they need one that does everything. Hauling people, hauling stuff — one car does it all. That’s where the two-box solution shines. And if the driver likes driving, the minimal weight and compact dimension are a natural plus. So, the 2018 Volkswagen GTI is quite clearly shaping up to be a perfect one-car solution.
Ages ago, the GTI was a trim level of the Golf, bringing the heat to a funky little hatchback and virtually creating a segment. Now, there are actually three different flavors of GTI: S, SE, and Autobahn.
Given the vast gulf in price of the three, and my love for affordable yet fun wheels, your humble author naturally thinks the base model leads the way.
The formula for the Volkswagen Golf GTI is simple; take a good car, add horsepower, add styling flourishes, and make something special. For the past 35 years in the United States, the GTI has done this more often than not.
Sure, there may have been some misses in there, but for over a decade now, it has been all hits. The 2018 GTI continues this trend. Even though it’s just a refresh of the seventh-generation GTI we first saw in 2015, the coming model year’s changes make the vehicle better in almost every way. The GTI is currently the best new car available in these United States of America that can be purchased for an MSRP of under $30,000.
That may be a bold statement, but it isn’t without merit.