Entry Price: $26,415
Price as tested: $$37,710
This week, we get to drive the 2018 Volkswagen Golf GTI Autobahn, a performance car that lives up to its “Autobahn” model designation. For those who may not know of the Autobahn, it is a multi-lane highway in Germany known for not having speed limits in most areas of the freeway.
Now in its seventh generation, Golf is one of the darling’s of the youth market, especially in GTI dress. It is important to note that the Golf and Golf GTI models are so different that both are separated completely on the VW website. If you do a search to price and build a model, the “normal” Golf models will appear featuring a 1.8-liter turbo in two models; an S Sedan that starts at $20,910 or an SE version that begins at $23,655.
When you explore the Golf GTI, that’s when the real fun starts if you are into performance cars. Our GTI Autobahn tester arrived with an entry retail of $36,170, which we stress is the price for VW’s ultimate high performance GTI. The GTI line also includes entry S at $26,415 and mid-level SE at $30,470; both are formidable foes in this compact muscle car market.
You’ll find plenty of excitement in the GTI class, thanks to a 2.0-liter 220-horse, 258 lb. ft. torque engine (premium fuel recommended) that powers all GTI versions. The Autobahn features a special performance suspension, torque-sensing limited-slip differential, and high-performance front and rear brakes with the GTI logo slotted on bright red brake calipers.
Our tester had just three options, a self-dimming rear view Homelink mirror for $325; impressive Monster Mats floor liners with logo for $235; and a very nice Roadside Assistance Kt for just $85. With $895 delivery, the final tally came in at $37,710.
Now, let’s explore further the many attributes of the GTI Autobahn, which happens to be one of the most popular “tuner” cars for the young set today. Additionally, the GTI Autobahn is also a baby boomer favorite, especially for those like me who want to relive the glory days of muscle cars while cloaked in modern VW clothing.
You’ll accelerate to 60 mph in about six seconds flat and then travel the quarter mile in the low 14-second range at 100 mph, estimated, with the six-speed automatic transmission. If you decide for a six-speed manual and know what you’re doing shifting, you can probably go zero to 60 in the five-second range although most will opt for the paddle shift automatic that rev matches during downshifts. Fuel mileage is good at 24 city and 32 highway for the automatic, while the six-speed manual is one better at 25 and 33, respectively. Regardless of choice, the manual and automatic are the same price.
VW says about the Autobahn that “we took cool and made it just a touch cooler, with redesigned bumpers and other touches that add style as well as swagger.” Specifically, VW adds GTI Autobahn logos and specific front and rear fascia treatments that make this top performing unit stand apart from the rest of the GTI and Golf family.
Other major enhancements the GTI Autobahn offers are an 8.0-inch glass touch screen display and a Fender Premium Audio with 400 watts and nine speakers for some enjoyable sounds. You’ll also enjoy the sliding panoramic sunroof and a bevy of other pleasures you won’t find in the lower priced models.
As for safety, the GTI Autobahn is fully loaded as the high tech features are standard and include smart cruise, forward collision warning, autonomous emergency braking, blind spot monitor with rear traffic alert, high beam control, enhanced overhead rearview camera, lane departure warning, performance monitor and driving mode selection, pedestrian monitoring and all the traction and stability controls. The Golf GTI, not surprisingly, earns Five Star NHTSA safety rating.
Listed as a compact car by EPA nomenclature, GTI Autobahn comes with traction hungry 18-inch Bridgestone all-season tires on nice Dallas brand large spoke alloy wheels, giving the fully independent sport suspension great grip on all type of roads and conditions. Handling overall is crisp and precise, which has been a GTI calling card for years.
The cabin is mix of sporty versatility and convenience. You’ll enjoy red-stitch heated leather seating, SiriusXM with three months free, Climatronic dual zone air conditioning, smart key push button start, Bluetooth, all media device interfaces, MP3/WMA-compatibility, power driver seat and much more. Your VW dealer will explain all features on the GTI models.
Room inside for a compact class car is excellent be it front or rear passenger, while cargo area expands up to 53 cu. ft. thanks to a 60/40 split second row.
Important numbers include a wheelbase of 103.6-inches, 3,031 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 bumper-to-bumper 6-year/72,000 mile warranty.
VW Golf GTI is an excellent effort from the folks at Volkswagen and worthy of a test drive if shopping this compact high performance market. I promise you won’t be disappointed when you hit the accelerator from a standing start and then take GTI deep into a curve, hit the apex, and come out under full throttle at your area road course track day.
Yes, it really is a high performance sports car worthy of praise.
Likes: Real performance car wrapped in Golf clothing, loaded with features.
Dislikes: Some road noise, Touch screen a bit cumbersome, Autobahn is pricey.
— Greg Zyla writes weekly for More Content Now and GateHouse Media. Contact him at email@example.com or at 303 Roosevelt St., Sayre, PA 18840.
Test Drive: 2018 Volkswagen Golf GTI
Entry Price: $26,415