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  • 2018 Volkswagen Golf TSI

    Posted on February 8th, 2018 ninarussin

    Compact hatchback is big from the inside out

    By Nina Russin

    2018 Volkswagen Golf

    2018 Volkswagen Golf

    The Volkswagen Golf isn’t a very big car, with a wheelbase measuring 104-inches: about 8-1/2 feet. Don’t let its compact dimensions fool you; the front-wheel drive Golf has an amazing amount of space inside.

    Fold the second-row seats flat and it can hold skis, snowboards, and camping gear. With pricing for the base S automatic model starting at $22,010 sans destination, it might leave something in the bank for that new eTAP bicycle you’ve been thinking about, or at least some component upgrades.

    Mechanically 2018 models are carryover, but with a refreshed exterior that includes LED daytime running lamps, LED tail lamps and some chrome accents. Standard convenience features on the base S tested include alloy wheels, keyless entry, eight-speaker sound system, rearview camera, cruise control, automatic windshield wipers and Bluetooth interface. The S grade comes with cloth upholstery and manual seat adjustments that include lumbar support. Destination is $850.

    Test drive in Phoenix, Arizona

    2018 Volkswagen Golf

    2018 Volkswagen Golf

    Over the past week I drove the Golf TSI around the Phoenix, Arizona metropolitan area as well as sections of the Gila River Indian community south of town. Throughout the 200-mile test drive the pint-size Golf lived up to its reputation as a fuel-thrifty, fun-to-drive car that should fill the squares for lots of drivers.

    A 1.8-liter inline four-cylinder engine develops 170 horsepower and 199 pound-feet of peak torque, while delivering 27 mile-per-gallon average fuel economy according-to the EPA. The manual transmission model averages two miles-per-gallon more. Since the turbocharged engine develops peak torque at 1600 rpm, the Golf has no problems getting up to speed off the line or in the 20-to-50 mile-per-hour range drivers use merging onto the highway. The engine runs on regular unleaded gasoline thanks to its relatively low compression ratio, containing cost of ownership.

    2018 Volkswagen Golf

    2018 Volkswagen Golf

    A six-speed automatic transmission progresses smoothly through the gears with no obvious shift shock under normal driving conditions. Electric power assist steering delivers plenty of assist at low speeds for maneuverability: a 35.8-foot turning circle makes the occasional U-turn a non-issue. At higher speeds on-center response is solid so drivers can feel confident should they need to make emergency evasive maneuvers.

    Kudos to Volkswagen for equipping all models with a four-wheel independent suspension when competitors utilize a live rear axle. Anti-roll bars on both axles keep the chassis flat in the corners. Four-wheel disc brakes stop the Golf in firm, linear fashion.

    Visibility around the perimeter is good. The rearview camera makes it easier to back out of parking slots with high-profile vehicles situated on either side. Thanks to the car’s narrow B-pillar, over-the-shoulder visibility is good. I had no problems monitoring traffic in adjacent lanes on the highway, even though the car was not equipped with blind spot monitoring.

    Interior quiet is good, so occupants can converse on the highway or enjoy the audio system.

    Versatile interior

    2018 Volkswagen Golf

    2018 Volkswagen Golf

    For buyers with active lifestyles, the Golf’s versatile interior is its ace-in-the-hole, giving it the competitive edge over other vehicles in the segment such as the Ford Focus, Honda Civic and Mazda3. While the Golf’s squarish profile might look stodgy next to its more aerodynamic competitors, the long high roof translates to more room in back, so the Golf can accommodate a bicycle with rear seats folded flat.

    I found the manual seat adjustments easy to use, with enough range to get a clear forward view and plenty of lower lumbar support. The advantage of cloth over leatherette used in the upscale SE model is comfort for those living in climates with extreme summer heat. It’s also easy to clean: something athletes spending long days on the trails will appreciate.

    The base audio system now comes with a slightly larger center stack screen, standard Apple CarPlay and Android auto. I found both the gauge cluster and center stack screen easy to read in bright sunlight and after dark. Both audio and climate control knobs are easy to reach from either front seating positions and intuitive to operate.

    With rear seats in place, the cargo bay has plenty of room for the weekly groceries and multiple pieces of luggage. Smaller drivers will appreciate the low lift-over height when loading in larger items.

    Standard safety

    The Volkswagen Golf comes with front, side and side curtain airbags, daytime running lamps, antilock brakes, traction control, stability control, tire pressure monitoring, rearview camera, automatic post collision braking and intelligent crash response that automatically unlocks the car, cuts off fuel and illuminates the interior in the event of a serious collision.

    The 2018 Golf is on display at Volkswagen dealerships nationwide.

    Like: A compact hatchback that really-works for active lifestyles thanks to its versatile interior.

    Dislike: Bland exterior styling

    Quick facts:

    Make: Volkswagen
    Model: Golf TSI
    Year: 2018
    Base price: $22,010 excluding delivery
    As tested: N/A
    Horsepower: 170 HP @ 4500 rpm
    Torque: 199 lbs.-ft. @ 1600 rpm
    Zero to sixty: N/A
    Antilock brakes: Standard
    Side curtain airbags: Standard
    First aid kit: N/A
    Bicycle friendly: Yes
    Off-road: No
    Towing: No
    Fuel economy: 24/33 mpg city/highway

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