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2018 Golf Sportwagen S 4Motion IS20


Go Kart Champion
Picked up my Pure White (Titan Black cloth interior) 2018 Golf Sportwagen S 4motion DSG since mid-Nov 2018.

I knew I wanted a wagon (and not a SUV/CUV like the masses) and there really aren’t many (good) choices. The Subis just don’t do it for with their gutless motors and CVT weirdness. I considered a 3-year old off-lease BMW 328 but it would have been more money for a vehicle with 50K on it. I test drove an All Track but it rode stiffer than the GSW and I didn’t care for the lift/cladding. I did however love the Marrakesh Brown interior!

Here’s my summary/modding/etc. so far. I’m really more of an OEM to OEM+ kind of person w/r to my cars as they are DDs and I just like the more stock look.

Starting with the deal…got a great one. $21.8K before TTL. This price*included*the following I had the dealer put on:

VW 17” Blade wheels with 225 45R17 Pirelli Cinturato P7 All Season tires

VW Splash guards

VW Roof rack bars

VW Bumperdillo rear bumper protection plate

The car also included the customary VW port accessories including the monster mats, roadside assistance kit, luggage net, and HD trunk matt w/cargo blocks.

So for comparison if I bought just the car, it would have been around $19K before TTL. Amazing. I don’t buy any of the F&I/backend products but did finance through the dealer/local bank to achieve that price (as they are clearly getting some money on that which is fine and allows them to give me a better OTD price – the rate was 1.5% higher than my bank). I had a check from my credit union to combine with my ~30% DP but this will be fine and in the end it will be paid off in 4-6 months and the dealer loan will only add a few hundred extra in total to the bill vs. if I had gone through Navy Federal and I’m sure I did better than that in the overall deal. It’s not worth a re-fi for that little bit of money/time. Hoping to have this car at least 12 years and it will likely go to my youngest in about 7 years when he starts driving.

The car was missing a few things, the tow hook and the infotainment manual. The dealer I bought it from isn’t that convenient for me to get to so I just ordered the hook for the tool kit from ECS and the dealer mailed me the manual. I like things to be complete!

So far I’ve added/done:

Yakima Frontloader bike trays (x2) - REI

Llumar Pinnacle ceramic tint all the way around with 50% front and 35% rears – local tint place, this is the legal limit in VA and I'm a rule follower :)

Aukey dual USB charger for the 12V with the associated iPhone/Galaxy charging cables - Amazon

VW license plate frames – VW/dealer

First aid kit - Amazon

Osram Nightbreaker Laser (+130%) H7 low beam bulbs - Amazon

Knock-off GTI pedal kit - Amazon

K&N drop-in filter + removal of the snow shield - Amazon

P. side air duct Euro block-off plate - ECS

D. side air duct mod (Dremel)

interior LED kit - deAutoLED

front LED turn signals - deAutoLED

VW windshield sunshade – VW/dealer

VW valve caps – VW/dealer

VW door sill protection film - Ebay

VW Euro lower engine cover - ECS

VW full-length (and vented for the DSG) splash guard - ECS

VW driver's side under-seat drawer - ECS

VW warning triangle to fit in cubby on rear hatch (and replace the crappy one in the Roadside Assistance Kit)- ECS

Kiddie auto fire extinguisher (fits in the Roadside Assistance Kit)- Walmart

Vumos travel umbrella (has a case similar to the VW one and fits in the door cubby...the VW one was out of stock everywhere except the $100 one on Ebay...OUT ON THAT!) - Amazon

034 Tuning version 2 dogbone insert - ECS

VW Golf R rear sway bar - shopDAP

Door hinge covers – Ebay

Leyo PD Sportline black anno paddle shift extensions - they are amazing and super simple to install/very secure

Matte black vinyl overlay for the p. side airbag light (drives me nuts at night and you can’t dim it with OBDEleven) - Badgeskins

Matte black vinyl "TSI" visor airbag warning covers - Badgeskins

Red "I" on engine cover to match logo on hatch - Badgeskins

GTI plaid steering wheel emblem inlay - Klii Motorwerkes

Unitronic stage badge for hatch - Unitronic

Torque Pro + bluetooth OBDII dongle

Kenu Airframe + vent-mount phone holder

Center console storage tray - ECS

Scwaben LED rechargeable flashlight for 12V outlet - ECS

Black mirror caps - Ebay

VW rear window side spoilers - e-acca

CTS Turbo turbo inlet pipe

CTS Turbo turbo inlet hose

CTS Turbo turbo muffler delete

Audi A3 Euro low-profile rear headrests

ECS vent-mounted boost gauge + intake manifold boost tap

Unitronic Stage 1+ ECU and Stage 1 DSG performance software

Unitronic Stage 2 IS20 ECU and Stage 2 DSG performance software

Unitronic AWD MQB downpipe

VW IS20 turbo Rev L (used w/5K miles off 2017 GTI)

312mm front brake upgrade (used carriers from an Alltrack) including Stoptech Sport slotted rotors and EBC Redstuff pads

H&R Sport springs

I’ve done the following OBDEleven tweaks:

Overall impressions of the car:
The good…
Amazing car for ~$20K. I was concerned about the cloth seats but actually think I prefer them now..not so cold/hard in the winter and heated (HOT) to boot! For a “stripper”, it’s quite feature-laden and I’ve always liked that VW gives the base models essentially the same exterior appearance as the higher end trims so people don’t see your car and say “base model”; the VW Blade wheels I added certainly help in that regard but the stock 16s don’t look bad. Drives great. Love the extra room over my Focus in the cargo area. I know the manual purists will ding me but I really like the DSG. This is coming from DD’ing a manual for the last nearly 25 years (so this isn’t a novelty to me maybe as it would be for say someone younger that hasn’t driven one)…I don’t miss rowing my own gears one bit and can just drive the my manual Focus when I need a fix. Sure nice not having to mess with a manual in traffic and to me, the DSG feels “normal” with the slightly more jerky feeling you get at slow speeds/stop/go/inclines etc. I suppose I also drive it differently b/c of my experience with a manual and in slow stop/go I try to creep as I think about the clutches working so I try to be on/off with the brake to allow them to fully engage/not heat up from slipping if you scoot along not allowing them to fully engage. Also like that I can tune this with no drama w/r to the manual’s clutch not be rated for the extra torque. It’s got a ton of room with the seats down and I really dig that the rear seat release is in the cargo area. The HVAC is great and I actually don’t mind the manual system, it has crazy-good heat. No auto start stop (I assume due to the DSG)?….YAYESS!

The bad…
It’s a stripper so a few things are missing that I am used to namely satellite radio (working through that with Android Auto//SD card and getting used to our local regular FM stations) and fog lights (really like yellow fogs on cars like this but install seems to be a PITA). The more limited functionality of the infotainment unit is a bit disappointing especially since you can’t even use OBDEleven to enable some things in this car (no ability to upload station art…really? no compass?). I wish the LED tails were amber and it’s just not worth the cost/hassle to deal with a complete Euro replacement set to me for this functionality. I don’t like that the front doors are missing more detents to hold them open on a slope at less than full-open and almost closed. I don't think there is anywhere close to enough room in the cubby in front of the gear shift to reach in and plug in the USB for Android Auto etc., I'm not big and my hands barely fit. I just leave my cord plugged in and stowed in there. Finally, and this may sound odd, but I don’t mind the standard key vs. push button start. I think oiverall, VW does a good job on their base-trim cars and sure, you want more but if they gave it to you on the base it 1) would cost more and 2) nobody would buy the higher trims.

Future potential upgrades:

Unitronic intercooler
United Motorsport Haldex tune
VW Homelink auto-dimming mirror w/compass
CTS Golf R/Audi S3 resonator delete

Some YouTube videos on the various upgrades etc. on my channel:

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Drag Racing Champion
Nice ride. Forgot the base Golf and Gti no longer has satellite radio. Glad mine came with it.

Can you speak more to the mirrorlink. Didn't know that was an option and why doesn't it work very well


Go Kart Champion
Nice ride. Forgot the base Golf and Gti no longer has satellite radio. Glad mine came with it.

Can you speak more to the mirrorlink. Didn't know that was an option and why doesn't it work very well
Sorry...should have been more clear. Mirrorlink works fine (just an open source run at Android Auto etc.) but the reason I wanted it was to mirror my phone so I could get the Torque Pro gauges on my screen while driving. Most of the ways to do this ate hacker crap that just isn't as seamless/smooth as I wanted.

Sent from my SM-G950U using Tapatalk


Ready to race!
Brick, NJ
Did you by any chance test drive the 4motion 6speed manual? How does the 6spd DSG compare I'm wondering.

Really loving the idea of a 4motion sportwagen lately, congrats!


Go Kart Champion
Did you by any chance test drive the 4motion 6speed manual? How does the 6spd DSG compare I'm wondering.

Really loving the idea of a 4motion sportwagen lately, congrats!
I did not unfortunately. There wasn't one within 100 miles. I have DD'd manuals for a long time...I get "the manual thing" and why folks want to drive a "unicorn". The DSG is GREAT. It will handle a tune better b/c the stock clutch with the 6-spd isn't rated for the torque of a Stage 1. The shift points are the typical economy-driven variety so always trying to be in the highest gear possible...easy...just hit the downshift paddle or drop it to Sport mode! The DSG has launch control. After spending a month/2.5K miles with the DSG, I would have chosen it over the manual even if I had gotten to test drive one/was willing to drive out of town for it.


Go Kart Champion
As much as Im loving the 6 speed in my wagon, I look at those paddles and think of launch control as well with AWD, car is looking good! [emoji41][emoji106]

Sent from my Gavin Belson black box signature edition


Go Kart Champion
Unitronic Stage 1+ ECU and TCU tunes installed. Wow.

I went with the Unitronic Stage 1+ ECU tune/Stage 1 TCU tune on my 2018 GSW S 4M DSG. My driving is ~70% highway/30% around town. The tune was done at 2,750 miles so car was new but broken-in. Here are my impressions/comments etc.:

I purchased the tunes on sale from DAP including the cable for $1150 delivered. It showed up 2 days later. After getting the Unitronic software installed on my laptop and the cable registered, loading the tunes took about ~30 min. I used a battery charger per DAPs video. Plenty of info out there on all of this; I strongly suggest you watch the videos/read the instructions…twice. I goofed the cable registration and Unitronic provided live support to fix it; v. happy with their tech support so far.

The ECU tune makes the car much more lively and gives it much stronger acceleration – it isn’t a race car by any stroke of the imagination. I have done some 0-60 testing and gotten a few runs in the low 6s/high 5s so I think that is outstanding for a car like this (1/4 tank of gas, no spare tire/junk in car etc.). The TCU tune is the true gem of this upgrade with correct shift points in D and a better/more useable S mode; I can’t say enough good things about the TCU tune. The launch control RPM is higher now as is the redline for shifting under WOT (not such a concern to me). You can see what gear you are in in D or S modes now (again, not a big one). I would say the car feels stock still and if I wouldn’t have told my wife she may not have noticed. On the highway it’s so nice to get around cars quickly now; 60-80 mph is so fast/smooth. It will shock folks if you gun it out of a stop light in a station wagon. To sum it up…OEM+ and super happy with the tunes from Unitronic.


MPGs remain nearly unchanged on my highway commute (~100 miles round trip each day) but I believe I have lost ~1 mpg based on data I have collected/Fuelly; I’m sure my city mpgs have dropped a bit from all the “testing”..hahahah but overall, it’s not a huge mpg penalty as far as I can see. The jump to premium fuel cost is new to me and this will add ~$400 a year to my fuel costs at today’s prices. Fuelly shows that I am at 25mpg average over the last 4 mos with highs around 30 for just my commute and lows around 20 if I am just burning it up around town. Keep in mind roof racks can knock ~3mpg off of your mileage, especially so on the highway.

Would I do it again? YES! It’s exactly what I wanted…a more lively stock car to drive as my DD and commute to work in. I effectively have a GTI wagon now.

Sent from my SM-G950U using Tapatalk
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