The Original Hot Hatch: The 2018 Volkswagen Golf GTI Autobahn

Front 3/4 view of 2018 Volkswagen Golf GTI
The 2018 Volkswagen Golf GTI.
Thirty-five years ago, a co-worker of mine was dating a very rich man who also knew, liked and had good taste in cars.  Dude could have bought anything on four wheels.  He bought one of the first Volkswagen Rabbit GTIs. 

At a time when BMW 3-series were managing 11-second 0-60 runs and the SAAB 900 Turbo was considered blistering fast at 10 seconds flat, the GTI did it in 10.6, for a fraction of the price (roughly $8,500 at the time).  And it handled like it was on rails.  The GTI was a revelation in 1983.

Rear 3/4 view of 2018 Volkswagen Golf GTI
2018 Volkswagen Golf GTI.
Three and a half decades is enough for most thrills to be gone, but not the GTI.  It is still about as much fun as one can have in what is supposed to be an econobox, at a reasonable price.

$26,415 will get you into a 2018 Volkswagen Golf GTI, which these days, packs a 220-horsepower 2.0-liter turbo four under the hood and gets to 60 from a standing start in a shade under six seconds, and still manages an EPA estimated 25 miles per gallon city/33 highway.  Steps up from the base GTI are about features and cost you an additional four or nine grand, depending on how loaded you want your GTI.

The SE model, at $30,470, adds LED headlamps, an eight-inch touchscreen audio system and blind spot monitoring.  The top-of-the-line Autobahn, which was our tester, is $35,070 and brings adaptive cruise control, a Fender premium audio system and navigation.

Interior view of 2018 Volkswagen Golf GTI
2018 Volkswagen GTI interior.
Yes, that is an automatic transmission you see in the interior shot above, but it comes standard with a six-speed manual.  Our tester had the automatic, with Tiptronic and sport mode, for an extra $1,100. And, like most modern automatics, it is as good or better than I am at making the right decision for the right gear at the right time to maximize acceleration or economy.

The handling?  Still among the best of the cars we drive on a regular basis here at TireKicker.  With a bottom line of $37,020 (including $850 destination charge), the 2018 Volkswagen Golf GTI is the hatch to have.