The Singapore Car | Volkswagen Golf 1.2 TSI

BY Azfar Hashim

A full-sized hatchback with a small engine equates to a money-saving proposition — exactly what every Singaporean driver desired…

Photos by Azfar Hashim

Big car, small engine - the Golf 1.2 is definitely one car that excels really well for such a concept.

You see, the Golf 1.2 is a full-sized hatchback that has a large cabin thanks to a wheelbase and height that measures in at 2,637 and 1,452 mm respectively; not that far off Singapore’s perennial sedan, the Corolla Altis, mind you. So that automatically means it is brilliant for a family of five or even the small family of three. Or even if you are a swinging single who do have the occasional family obligation.

Oh, and either way, everyone gets pampered by the comfortably sculpted seats, be it the driver or passengers.

And this being a Golf, boot space is also easily available as you have a real boot back there that sucks in anything you can throw at it. Need more space? Simply bring down the rear seat’s backrest, keep the tray away and tadaa…

The cockpit is brilliant for a family-oriented car. You get controls that are well laid out and properly labeled, which means you do not have to take your eyes off the road to, say, adjust the radio or air-con.

Well, the only downside to being an entry-level variant is that you do not get any fancy multimedia head-unit, no sunroof and also, steering-mounted controls are taken off the accessories list. Even the front foglamps are missing. Singaporeans being typical bargain hunters, this might put them off…

But all that aside, what is of more importance is the 1.2-litre turbocharged engine powering the car, and the 7-speed DSG.

After all, the Golf is no lightweight considering its 1,184 kg kerbweight; and (on paper) it can only whip out some 104 bhp and 175 Nm (available from as low as 1,550 rpm, though) of torque. Last but not least, 10.2 seconds is needed to get from 0 to 100 km/h.

To be brutally honest, those figures are simply — excuse the language, dear readers — bull-s%#$; because this Golf 1.2 TSI feels lively and responsive, offering more than those numbers. Ok, so the initial move off may come across as a wee bit lethargic (considering the weight), but once past 3,000 rpm, it behaves closer to a hot-hatch than your typical family sedan. On our road, it simply darts from one lane to another, closing gaps be it in Orchard Road traffic or expressway. It brakes competently too, which was another surprise. Going faster than usual along sweeping bends may awaken the understeer gremlin, but the traction control is quick enough to correct the situation.

I had the opportunity to drive it up to KL for a weekend, and the Golf 1.2 continue to shine. It has all the rights to remain in the fastest lane, cruising at high speed with no issue. Steering feel is positive and even during high-speed lane changes, body movements were well within control. Plus with the seventh ratio, it has no problem outrunning bigger Asian sedans.

So, as the title of this review suggests, the Golf 1.2 TSI is the perfect Singaporean’s car. It has a generous body size, and thanks to the engine and transmission that are lively and should be considered an engineering feat, makes this hatchback highly desirable. The relatively low fuel economy (while Volkswagen quoted 20 km/L, I averaged a more realistic 15.8 km/L), road tax and insurance premium completes the case.

The accessory list, however, can surely be improved further to make this the most enticing model Volkswagen can offer our market.