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We drive the 2018 Volkswagen Golf S

by Ali Arsham
Tuesday, September 18, 2018

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2018 VW Golf S
2018 VW Golf S
The Volkswagen Golf is one of the best selling cars in the world. There is a good reason for that. It is one of the best car values, at least in the US at the moment.  When you consider what you get and the Golf’s asking price, the Golf is a fantastic bargain that cannot be overlooked.

The best part of the Golf is the feel that you get when you drive it and unfortunately not all drivers receive that input.  Many buyers look for gimmicks or standard features to impress them.  What sets the Golf apart is its simplicity and wholesome qualities.

The 2018 Golf is available in two trims—S and SE. We chose the entry level S model with zero options and were thoroughly impressed.  All Golf models feature newly-designed LED daytime running lights and new front and rear fascias.  From the first generation Golf to the current seventh generation, the Golf has offered an expansive cabin for a vehicle of its size.

There’s 93.5 cubic feet of interior room, 16.5 cubic feet of cargo space up to the parcel shelf and 22.8 cu.-ft. to the roof. The versatility of the load space is enhanced by a trunk floor that can be moved up or down by 3.9 inches, while the 60:40 split backrest can be folded to give an almost flat cargo area that easily accommodates a full-size bicycle.

With the rear seats folded, the Golf has 52.7 cu ft. of cargo capacity. It is amazing how much stuff you can fit back there. The square shape of the body definitely helps with luggage capacity as well as passenger space.

The Golf comfortably transports four people, and five people can easily get in for shorter trips.  All models of the Golf feature a long list of comfort and convenience features often found on more expensive models.

The Golf S has standard power windows and mirrors, along with air conditioning, cruise control, rearview camera, leather-wrapped handbrake, steering wheel, shift knob, and partial power front seats.

The feel that we talked about earlier starts as soon as you sit down and your hands touch the leather steering wheel.  Everything feels so much more expensive because the interior materials are first rate and could easily be in an Audi costing three times as much.

The only clue that this is an inexpensive car is the simple infotainment system that lacks navigation.  You do get a 6.5-inch capacitive touchscreen display. The infotainment system also offers an SD card slot and one USB port, as well as a rearview camera and standard Bluetooth.

The Golf features a turbocharged and direct-injection 1.8-liter four-cylinder EA888 engine that is mated to either a traditional five-speed manual gearbox or a six-speed automatic transmission.  Do yourself a favor and skip the automatic.

While the Golf is one of a few cars left with only five speeds, it is a transmission that is really rewarding to drive.  The gears are a bit wider than we like but it makes the car a ton of fun to drive. The engine produces 170 hp which is not that far off the power level of the GTI.  This base Golf S drives like a much more expensive car and never feels cheap or underpowered. With the five speed, you get 25 mpg in the city and 34 mpg on the highway.  We routinely saw over 40 mpg on the freeway while cruising at 65 mph.

The seventh generation Golf was the first U.S.-market vehicle built on Volkswagen’s MQB modular platform. The unitary construction chassis has two solid-mounted subframes with bolt-on front fenders, and utilizes technologies such as the laser clamp welder, which produces “wobble seam” welds in a wave pattern to help maximize strength in a limited space, offering significantly more strength than a traditional spot weld.

The Golf features a strut-type front suspension. At the back, the Golf has a multilink arrangement with coil springs, telescopic dampers, and an anti-roll bar. The rack-and-pinion steering features electric power assist and features a 13.6 to one ratio that allows for 2.76 turns from lock to lock.

Interior is not overly fancy but plenty finctional
Interior is not overly fancy but plenty functional
The Golf S rides on 195/65-15 all season tires that may sound small compared to what other manufacturers are using but it works extremely well.  The car rides very smoothly and absorbs bumps like a champ while providing sports car level handling that makes it so much fun to toss around.

Yes, summer performance tires would really improve this car if you live in warmer climates because the standard tires do complain loudly when pushed.

The VW XDS cross differential system uses the brakes to act as a substitute for a traditional mechanical limited-slip differential, working by actively monitoring data from each wheel sensor. This helps the Golf feel livelier and reduces understeer at the limit.

VW offers peace of mind with the People First Warranty, a six-year or 72,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty, which can be transferred to subsequent owners throughout its duration.

It includes powertrain coverage for engines and transmissions and all the elements can be transferred to subsequent owners for up to six years or 72,000 miles, whichever occurs first, from the date it was first sold new.

Most mainstream competitors to the Volkswagen brand in the United States such as Honda, Toyota and Ford offer only a three-year/36,000 mile basic warranty and a five-year/60,000 mile powertrain warranty on their cars and SUVs.

While Hyundai and Kia offer a five-year/60,000 mile basic warranty and a higher time and mileage limit on their powertrain limited warranties, if the vehicle is sold to a second owner, the powertrain limited warranty is not transferable beyond five years or 60,000 miles from the date it was first sold new.

The best part of the Golf is the price.  The base Golf S only costs $20,910. Skip the automatic transmission and that is all that you have to pay. There is no long list of options to be tempted about.  Pick your color and you are done.

It offers everything you need and nothing extra to take away from the experience.  It is a driver’s car hidden in an economy car body and unlike many new cars these days the boxy shape makes it panoramic which is a huge bonus.  Sit in any new car and take a look behind and you are most likely greeted with extremely poor rear visibility but the Golf’s lower beltline and larger windows really help.

If you don’t believe that the Golf is that good, you need to go for a test drive and pay attention to the small details and try to feel the elements.  You will not be disappointed.

General Specs


  • Front Wheel Drive
  • Automatic Transmission
  • 24 City / 33 Hwy
  • Hatchback
  • 1.8T S Auto

Exterior

  • Body
  • Body Style: Hatchback
  • Doors & Windows
  • Rear Defrost
  • Power Windows
  • Exterior Features
  • Rear Spoiler (Optional)
  • Tires & Wheels
  • Tires - Front All-Season
  • Tires - Rear All-Season
  • Compact Spare Tire
  • Tire Pressure Monitoring System
  • Aluminum Wheels
  • Wheel Locks (Optional)

Interior

  • Convenience & Comfort
  • Alarm
  • Back-Up Camera
  • Cruise Control
  • Vehicle Anti-Theft System
  • Auto-Off Headlights
  • Interior Cargo Shade
  • Adjustable Steering Wheel
  • Steering Wheel Controls
  • Leather Wrapped Steering Wheel
  • Trip Computer
  • Universal Garage Door Opener (Optional)
  • Intermittent Wipers
  • Rain Sensing Wipers
  • Variable Speed Intermittent Wipers
  • Keyless Entry
  • Power Door Locks
  • Electrochromic rearview mirror (Optional)
  • Heated Mirrors
  • Power Mirrors
  • Driver Vanity Mirror
  • Driver Illuminated Vanity Mirror
  • Passenger Vanity Mirror
  • Passenger Illuminated Visor Mirror
  • Power Steering
  • Entertainment
  • AM/FM Stereo
  • Auxiliary Audio Input
  • MP3 Player
  • Smart Device Integration
  • Navigation & Communication
  • Wireless Cell Phone Hookup
  • Mechanical

    • Engine & Performance
    • Front Wheel Drive
    • 4 Cylinder Engine
    • Turbocharged
    • Engine Type: Intercooled Turbo Regular Unleaded I-4
    • Displacement: 1.8 L/110
    • Horsepower (Net @ RPM): 170 @ 4500
    • Torque (Net @ RPM): 199 @ 1600
    • Transmission: Automatic w/OD
    • Turning diameter: 35.8
    • Suspension
    • Suspension Type - Front: Strut
    • Suspension Type - Rear: Multi-Link
    • Suspension Type - Front (Cont.): Strut
    • Suspension Type - Rear (Cont.): Multi-Link
    • Safety

      • Airbags
      • Driver Air Bag
      • Passenger Air Bag
      • Front Head Air Bag
      • Rear Head Air Bag
      • Front Side Air Bag
      • Safety Features
      • Brake Assist
      • Electronic Stability Control
      • Daytime Running Lights
      • Child Safety Locks
      • Integrated Turn Signal Mirrors
      • Traction Control

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