2018 Volkswagen Golf
Now in its seventh generation, the Golf hatchback has been one of Volkswagen's most popular models for four decades.
Volkswagen caters to buyers who want a more engaging Golf by offering a 210-horsepower hot hatch dubbed Golf GTI and a range-topping model called Golf R that boasts 292 ponies. Additionally, family-friendly station wagon model dubbed Golf SportWagen recently joined the lineup..
For the latest model year, Volkswagen added a new infotainment system and re-shuffled the list of trim levels.
It doesn't take a well-trained eye to notice the seventh-gen Golf doesn't look drastically different from the sixth-gen model it replaced. Volkswagen's bread-and-butter hatch gets a sharper front end and angular tail lamps but the overall silhouette and many design cues have undergone only evolutionary modifications.
The story is different under the skin, where the switch to Volkswagen's modular MQB platform has made the Golf more spacious inside and considerably lighter than the sixth-generation model.
The Golf offers an ergonomic interior built with quality materials. The car boasts a function-over-form dashboard with a center console that is slightly oriented towards the driver, an easy-to-read instrument cluster with four analog gauges housed in two separate pods and a three-spoke steering wheel. A thin-film transistor screen integrated into the instrument cluster provides step-by-step navigation directions and can be configured to display a host of vital information about the car and its surroundings.
Base models ship with a 6.5-inch touch screen, while more expensive trim levels boast an 8-inch unit. Either way, the screen integrates the hatchback's entertainment, navigation (if equipped) and climate control systems while offering crash notification, roadside assistance and stolen vehicle location assistance. It also features remote vehicle access, speed and boundary alerts, and it can provide a vehicle health report upon request.
The Golf offers 22.8 cubic feet of trunk space with five passengers on board. That figure goes up to 52.7 cubic feet when the rear seats are folded flat.
Under the hood
Volkswagen offers the Golf with a 1.8-liter TSI four-cylinder gasoline-burning engine that generates 170 horsepower at 4,500 rpms and 200 lb-ft. of torque at just 2,650 rpms. Base models are equipped with a five-speed manual transmission, and select trim levels can be ordered with a six-speed automatic unit at an extra cost.
The TSI returns 25 mpg in the city and 37 mpg on the highway when bolted to a manual transmission. Opting for the automatic lowers freeway mpg to 29.
Standard and optional features
The Golf comes in two trim levels named S and SE, respectively.
The list of standard features includes power-operated heated mirrors, rain-sensing wipers, automatic headlights, LED daytime running lights, 15-inch alloy wheels, a 6.5-inch touch screen, single-zone A/C, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, power windows, cloth upholstery, six-way adjustable front seats, Bluetooth connectivity, and a USB port.
All Golf models regardless of trim level come standard with six airbags, electronic stability control and an Automatic Post-Collision Braking system that applies the brakes after a collision in order to reduce kinetic energy and lower the risk of additional impacts.
Alternatives to the Golf in the highly-competitive compact segment include the Mazda Mazda3 and the Subaru Impreza.