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Since I can remember Volkswagen has always been that kind of product that added a little flavor to something so ordinary. By offering a superior chassis and premium Audi-like interior – it gave consumers a small window of what it would be like to drive a superior brand. However, in this day in age, even the most basic of economy cars like the Hyundai Elantra, Mazda 3 and Ford Focus have all brought a more than a basic stance to the compact car industry. Therefore, Volkswagen has taken drastic measures that is very un-Volkswagen-like by creating a car that follows the trend of what low-budgeted consumers look for.

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WHAT’S NEW FOR 2018:

This isn’t Volkswagen first attempt at creating a base model Golf with a cloth interior and no options. We saw the first iteration of the Golf S in 2016 and continue to see it into 2018 with a freshened look. Only problem is, we had to get our magnifying glasses out, because its new facade is nearly difficult to tell there is really any difference between the 2017 model. With a new headlight design, standard LED taillights and integrated chrome exhaust fake pipes, this refreshed Golf looks oddly familiar to the old one.

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As an entry level Golf, its bare essentials are a bit more than just power windows, locks, and Bluetooth. Although its 16-inch wheels doesn’t do its $20k price tag any justice, this Golf is offered with a very German fitting interior filled with conservative 50 shades of gray design language. Boosted technology however upgrades this ordinary, mundane commuter with a fairly large touch screen interface that utilizes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity as a standard feature.

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WHAT WE LIKED:

Performance stays the same continuing into 2018 utilizing a 1.8-liter turbocharged engine with a standard six-speed manual transmission or in the case of our test car, the optional $1100 six-speed automatic. Providing smooth upshifts and a poise chassis, the Golf remains a strong suitor for the compact hatch market. It feels as tight as last years summers shorts and provides constant positive, receptive steering feel. Despite being one of the more powerful engines in its segment, the Golf did return 37 mpg on the highway with a combined average of 29 mpg.

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Even for a base model with its cloth interior and low budgeted presence, the Golf continues to offer a refined interior with solid, tactile buttons and quality finishes. Its ride is refine and comfortable and with room in the rear for all passenger sizes. And as Volkswagen go, the Golf continues to offer fold flat seats with a ski shoot in the center armrest. Oddly enough, Volkswagen makes things interesting with partial power and manual adjustable driver and passenger seats that confuses many of the passengers that get in.

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WHAT WE DIDN’T LIKE:

There are some positive feedback coming out of the Volkswagen latest design craze with the all-new Atlas, the soon to arrive Jetta, and the up-in-coming Arteon; however, the Golf, remains as dreary as ever. Our Human Resources department has more pizzazz than the Golf. And then with a price tag of over $21k the lack of upgraded wheels and real exhaust tips makes us think Volkswagen is just trying to skim by while other manufacturers are taking their cars to another level. The interior felt a little out of sorts having sprung for lesser quality materials on the door panels and since the seats are cloth, they felt more like burlap than cotton soft fabric.

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CONCLUSION:

In the end, everything on the Golf adds up to a fairly good car to drive and own – with excellent fuel economy and up-to-date industry standard technology. However, at the end of week, this was one car we weren’t sad to return the keys.

Vehicle Specifications:
2018 Volkswagen Golf S TSI: $19,895
As Tested (including Options & Destination): $21,815
Performance Specs:
1.8-liter Turbocharged Four-Cylinder -170-Horsepower, 6-Speed Automatic Transmission – 0-60MPH: ±7.5 seconds
EPA MPG: 25/35/29 (City/Highway/Combined) – SSB Average: 28 MPG’s – Fuel Range: ±450 Miles