Entry Price: $20,910
Price as tested: $25,605
This week, we get to drive the 2018 Volkswagen Golf SE, a vehicle that won the Motor Trend Magazine “Car of the Year” in 2015 for its entire lineup of models and notably the first time that ever happened.
Now in its seventh generation following a 1974 debut as replacement for the VW Beetle, Golf is available in Sedan Hatchback or SportWagen trim with our tester arriving in four-door SE sedan dress with an entry of $23,675. Our tester had just one option, an $1,100 six-speed Sportronic automatic transmission that brought the final tally to $25,605 with $850 delivery included.
The Golf S Sedan is a popular consumer choice thanks to the aforementioned $20,910 entry price. However, there are also some special Golf models to consider, including the Golf GTI ($26,415), Electric Golf ($30,495) and performance bred Golf R 4Motion AWD ($39,375). The latter is one of the most popular “tuner” cars for the young set or baby boomers like me who want to relive the glory days of muscle cars cloaked in modern VW/Audi clothing.
Notable, too, is the Golf SportWagen that starts at $21,685 and is a unique blend of larger body, more interior room and expanded cargo space with the same great driving manners. SportWagen is the most unique of the bunch and because it is a station wagon it must fill the needs of a family or business person. Consumers will relish the cargo room of more than 70 cu. ft. and larger quarters than, say, the entry Golf S even though the underpinnings are pretty much the same. An AWD wagon is also available.
Under the hood of S, SE and SportWagen models sits VW’s proven 1.8-liter four cylinder turbo that generates 170 horses and 199 lb. ft. of torque. Fuel mileage is excellent, with 25 city and 35 highway EPA numbers while power is transferred via Volkswagen’s six-speed automatic transmission. I recommend the automatic over the six-speed-manual for ease of operation and equally good fuel mileage. You’ll accelerate to 60 mph in the six-second zone with the automatic as the six-speed manual only offers 184 lb. ft. of torque from the same engine thanks to computer control.
The major interior differences between the more expensive SE and the entry S is an 8.0-inch touchscreen instead of a 6.5-inch, sliding panoramic sunroof and a blind spot monitor. To make the SE an even better choice is a big addition in the safety arena as forward collision warning and autonomous emergency braking (front assist) come standard with the SE. Both are important upgrades over the S model and yes, I recommend the SE hands down.
Golf is listed as a compact hatchback (or small wagon if you buy the SportWagen) by EPA nomenclature. Golf SE comes with 16-inch Hankook Kinergy tires on nice Toronto brand alloy wheels, giving the fully independent suspension great grip on all type of roads and conditions. Handling overall is crisp and precise, which has been a VW calling card for years.
The cabin is mix of versatility and convenience. Featuring leatherette seating as standard fare, the Golf SE model includes SiriusXM, Bluetooth, all the media device interfaces and MP3/WMA-compatible CD player and AM/FM/HD radio. Room inside is excellent be it front or rear seat passengers, while cargo area expands thanks to a 60/40 split second row that folds down and offers an expansion of near 53 cu. ft. the CD player deserves extra attention, as most car makers don’t offer a CD anymore and even the retailers are going away from the medium. So, what are we to do with all of our CDs? (Thanks Volkswagen).
All of the expected Golf amenities are standard, from cruise to air to three 12V outlets. There’s safety cage construction (like a roll bar built in), all airbags and safety items including rearview camera, stability control, electric brakeforce and more. The Golf receives 5-Star NHTSA safety ratings thanks to four wheel antilock disc brakes, stability and traction controls, rearview camera, front side airbags and side curtain airbags.
Important numbers include a wheelbase of 103.8-inches, 2,963 lb. curb weight, 13.2-gallon fuel tank, 35.8 ft. turn circle, from 22.8 to 52.7 cu. ft. of cargo space and a 5.4-inch ground clearance. Notable is VW’s new bumper-to-bumper 6 year/72,000 mile warranty.
Golf has an unquestionable look to it and still somewhat resembles the original 1974 Golf in its squared off hatchback appearance. Granted, it’s come a long way on the design board, but its blueprint theory is similar to the VW Beetle code of belief in that Golf designers never sway much from the original outline.
VW Golf is an excellent effort from the folks at Volkswagen and worthy of a test drive if shopping this compact market. With pricing that allows consumers from all walks a chance to own 2018 Golf, you’ll have lots to see when you visit your Volkswagen dealer.
Likes: Nice looks, attractive pricing, interior room, peppy performance.
Dislikes: Some road noise, Touchscreen cumbersome, SiriusXM unavailable on S model.
Next Week: 2018 Nissan Rouge.
— Greg Zyla writes weekly for More Content Now and other Gatehouse Media publications.
Test Drive: 2018 Volkswagen Golf
Entry Price: $20,910