Browse over 9,000 car reviews

Sorry, there are no cars that match your search

You are here

Volkswagen Golf GTI Performance Edition 1 2018 review

EXPERT RATING
8.1
Less and more - that seems to be the rationale behind this flagship Golf GTI, which has two fewer doors but plenty of extra grunt.

Once upon a time, a German car company had a lovely little three-door coupe/hatchback named after a wind that sweeps across the Sahara to the Mediterranean. It was called the Scirocco.

But like wind, its effect was fleeting, passing by and leaving little evidence of its existence. For buyers keen for a performance-oriented three-door to fill the gap left by the Scirocco, there’s this - the Volkswagen Golf GTI Performance Edition 1 - which arrives with the wind in its sails… albeit for just 150 owners in the country.

This model harks back to the good old days when Golf GTI models were better known as three-door cars - that was the original form, but this generation Golf 7.5 version has a lot more going for it.

It has more power than the regular GTI and a serious focus on sporty performance, only comes with a seven-speed dual-clutch auto transmission, has some additional spec highlights, and even comes with a mad little loot bag full of goodies from VW’s merchandise cupboard.

So, is this ultra-rare new three-door Golf a breath of fresh air, or just a lot of hot air?

Volkswagen Golf 2018: 110 TSI
Safety rating
Engine Type1.4L turbo
Fuel TypePremium Unleaded Petrol
Fuel Efficiency5.7L/100km
Seating5 seats
Price from$20,500

Is there anything interesting about its design?   9/10

You’ll either be a fan of the three-door shape, or you won’t. If you fall into the latter category, why are you even reading this? If you’re in the former camp, like myself, you’ll probably find yourself looking at this car for slightly too long. Yes, your workmates think you’re weird for doing so.

The sharpness of the C-pillar is the bit I like most - the way it folds away like origami, yet still manages to hark back to the good old days when the Golf was really, actually, a small car.

  • Not only are the headlights automatic, but so are the high-beams. Not only are the headlights automatic, but so are the high-beams.
  • ‘Premium’ LED tail-lights with dynamic indicators are just some of the extra features. ‘Premium’ LED tail-lights with dynamic indicators are just some of the extra features.

Of course, you might think, it has to be a bit shorter overall than the regular Golf five-door models - but you’d be wrong. It measures the exact same length from nose to tail, but has an ever so slightly narrower track.

I think it’s glorious, gorgeous, and gracious to look at.

How practical is the space inside?   7/10

Never sat in a three-door Golf? You’d be surprised just how much space is on offer - and yes, there are five seats and the requisite outboard ISOFIX child-seat attachment points, and three top-tether hooks.

Not that you’d want to be loading kids into the back on a regular basis. Sure, the front seats flip down and slide forward to allow access to the rear, and it’s relatively easy to get in and out - but trying to reach back there is a stretch.

The doors are very long, making them a chore in tight car parks, and whether you’re in the driver’s seat or the passenger’s, the seatbelt is a fair reach behind you, particularly if you’re a shorter occupant.

It gets bigger 19-inch wheels compared with a regular GTI, not to mention a front differential lock and larger disc brakes. It gets bigger 19-inch wheels compared with a regular GTI, not to mention a front differential lock and larger disc brakes.

You're experiencing a sense of foreboding, right? Not exactly. There are all the Golf smarts we’ve come to expect: large door pockets; two cupholders in the front; a pair of cupholders in the rear, flip-down arm-rest; some bottle holders in the front doors; and bottle caddies near where you climb in to the second row.

Plus you get a boot capacity of 380 litres - identical to the five-door - and that jumps to 1270 litres with the rear seats folded down. There’s a space-saver spare wheel under the boot floor.

Up front, the 8.0-inch multimedia screen is better than the 9.2-inch higher-spec offering in other Golf models, because you still get a knob on either side for the volume and tuning (the bigger screen is touch-capacitive only, and can be annoying). Using the Bluetooth phone and audio streaming, or plugging in to Apple CarPlay or Android Auto is a cinch.

Plus, if you want, you can call up some performance meters on the centre screen, including turbo bar pressure, g-force meter and the instantaneous kW output of the engine, plus there’s a lap timer.

Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?   8/10

Let’s start with what Volkswagen is asking for the Golf GTI Performance Edition 1. It’s $47,990, which is more than 10-grand dearer than the entry-level three-door GTI Original (due to launch early 2018) in manual guise, or $8000 more than the DSG equivalent.

But this thing still has some, er, ‘original’ style features, including a key for the ignition rather than push-button start, and manually adjustable front seats rather than electric jobbies.

There’s no tartan trim in sight - instead, the seats are lined with honeycomb micro-fleece and leatherette. There’s no tartan trim in sight - instead, the seats are lined with honeycomb micro-fleece and leatherette.

Then there are the bits that are seemingly at odds with those very hands-on elements of the cabin.

This version of the GTI is fitted as standard with the brand’s high-tech virtual instrument display, a 12.3-inch screen in front of the driver with an array of different screen set-ups to show the person at the wheel exactly what they want to see.

It also gets bigger 19-inch wheels compared with a regular GTI, not to mention a front differential lock, larger disc brakes, ‘premium’ LED tail-lights with dynamic indicators, and there’s no tartan trim in sight - instead, the seats are lined with honeycomb micro-fleece and leatherette. It has tinted rear and side windows, too.

 The rear seats have the requisite outboard ISOFIX child-seat attachment points. The rear seats have the requisite outboard ISOFIX child-seat attachment points.

You get sat nav, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, ambient lighting, auto lights (with auto LED headlights) and auto wipers.

The only option you can get for the GTI Performance Edition 1 is a panoramic sunroof, at $1900. And you’ve only got a choice of two colours - 'White Silver', as you see here, or 'Dark Iron Blue' metallic.

There is plenty of safety kit fitted as standard, too - see what’s covered below.

What are the key stats for the engine and transmission?   8/10

The 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine doesn’t offer the powerhouse numbers of, say, the Honda Civic Type R (with its huge 228kW/400Nm outputs), but with 180kW of power and 370Nm of torque, it’s still a shredder, with 11kW and 20Nm more than the standard Golf GTI model.

The engine rewards much more than a standard Golf GTI. The engine rewards much more than a standard Golf GTI.

The 0-100km/h claim for this spec is 6.2 seconds, which is 0.2sec faster than the regular GTI.

It is front-wheel drive, and there’s no manual option available - instead, you get a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic. Yep it’s a seven-speeder, rather than a six-speed unit, because it has more torque.

How much fuel does it consume?   8/10

Volkswagen claims fuel use of 6.5L/100km, using premium 95 unleaded, which is pretty good considering the grunt numbers on offer. And the tank holds 50 litres.

You won’t be content to stay in eco, so don’t even think you will be.

In real-world driving you probably won’t see that unless you’re content to tootle along in Eco mode - which is one of five driving modes available (the others are Normal, Sport, Comfort and Individual).

Trust me, you won’t be content to stay in eco, so don’t even think you will be… Even so, we saw respectable consumption averaging out at 7.8L/100km, with some highway, commuting and speedier driving included.

What's it like to drive?   9/10

Good enough to make you almost happy to deal with traffic jams. Almost… But seriously, the most rewarding bit about being stuck in a traffic jam in the Golf GTI Performance Edition 1 is that it makes the moment the traffic clears so much more rewarding.

There’s a sequence you’ll invariably follow: dial up Sport mode; hear the noise synthesiser pipe some extra rumble into the cabin; sock the throttle in the guts; grin like a goose.

  • You get a boot capacity of 380 litres - identical to the five-door. You get a boot capacity of 380 litres - identical to the five-door.
  • The 380 litres of available capacity jumps to 1270 litres with the rear seats folded down. The 380 litres of available capacity jumps to 1270 litres with the rear seats folded down.

The engine rewards much more than a standard Golf GTI, which has power outputs that almost perfectly match its chassis. But this car has more power, and a better chassis set-up, and it builds pace a touch more manically, and corners with more tenacity, too.

Along with bigger brakes and larger 19-inch wheels, the GTI Performance gains what VW labels a “front differential lock”, which is an electronically controlled differential that can judge the amount of grip on the road using sensors, and manage the amount of differential lock required, based on steering input, yaw angle and speed. It works super well, reducing understeer in the tighter twists and enabling the front end of the car to grip the surface and throw you forward speedily.

The steering is very good, too - Sport mode bulks up the weighting to a point that is a little silly, so I prefer to use Individual mode and adjust the steering and adaptive suspension to the slightly more malleable Normal modes, making for better blend of turn-in feel and usability.

There’s a space-saver spare wheel under the boot floor. There’s a space-saver spare wheel under the boot floor.

If you keep it in Sport mode, the adaptive dampers will make the ride somewhat bouncy, which has a bit to do with the 19s under each corner of the car. Normal mode, again, helps tame that a tad, increasing user-friendliness.

The bigger wheels impact comfort levels - hitting sharp edges or rolling over pockmarked surfaces isn’t as unruffled as in a regular GTI, but it never gets harsh or fidgety to the point of annoyance.

Warranty & Safety Rating

Basic Warranty

3 years / unlimited km warranty

ANCAP Safety Rating

ANCAP logo

What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating?   9/10

The Volkswagen Golf has the maximum five-star ANCAP crash safety score, which was applied to the car back in 2013 and again in 2017 when the Golf 7.5 range launched. And across the entire Golf range - yep, even three-door ones - VW fits it with seven airbags, a reversing camera, forward collision warning and auto emergency braking.

Further to that, the Golf GTI Performance Edition 1 includes adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping assist, semi-automated parking assistance, auto high-beam head-lights, blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert.

It doesn’t want for much, really.

What does it cost to own? What warranty is offered?   7/10

Volkswagen offers a five-year service plan for the Golf GTI Performance Edition 1, which requires maintenance every 12 months/15,000km. The average cost per service over that period is high, at $540.

The company backs its cars with a three-year/unlimited km warranty, and the same cover applies for its roadside assist program.

Verdict

If you’re lucky enough to be one of the 150 owners who get to have the Volkswagen Golf GTI Performance Edition 1 in your driveway, I’m jealous.

This is an accomplished and intriguing little thing, definitely good enough to blow the socks off this writer in particular.

Would you consider a Golf GTI three-door? Or are back doors essential to make a practical performance car? Let us know in the comments section below.

Pricing Guides

$30,959
Based on 1458 cars listed for sale in the last 6 months
Lowest Price
$18,990
Highest Price
$69,990

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
110 TDI Highline 2.0L, Diesel, 7 SP AUTO $29,800 – 39,990 2018 VOLKSWAGEN GOLF 2018 110 TDI Highline Pricing and Specs
110 TSI 1.4L, PULP, 6 SP MAN $20,500 – 22,999 2018 VOLKSWAGEN GOLF 2018 110 TSI Pricing and Specs
110 TSI COMFORTLINE 1.4L, PULP, 7 SP AUTO $21,990 – 36,790 2018 VOLKSWAGEN GOLF 2018 110 TSI COMFORTLINE Pricing and Specs
110 TSI Highline 1.4L, PULP, 7 SP AUTO $28,000 – 44,790 2018 VOLKSWAGEN GOLF 2018 110 TSI Highline Pricing and Specs
EXPERT RATING
8.1
Design9
Practicality7
Price and features8
Engine & trans8
Fuel consumption8
Driving9
Safety9
Ownership7
Matt Campbell
Senior Editor

Share