The Golf now comes with a size ‘S’ engine – so is this the good news for drivers who are sensitive to engine capacity?
Photos by Marcus Lim & Azfar Hashim
Another day, another Golf variant you say? To be honest, I cannot agree more as, even without doing much research, the Golf is one model that appeals simply because you can choose to have it in a bread-and-butter or hot-like-salsa versions.
But that said let me begin by bringing forward one part of this 1.0-litre Golf that I definitely, well, do not find pleasant.
It’s that automatic Engine Start/Stop system, what must be the most intrusive one experienced, personally. It tends to kill the engine even when you’ve come to a complete stop for only – what must be – 0.5 seconds. Making it even more annoying was how the engine switches off just when you’re readying to enter a busy junction (you know, the sort where if you miss your chance to enter, you need to wait another 15 years before you could make your next move).
As though it was calibrated to immediately switch off when the Golf comes to a complete halt and your feet’s on the brake pedal. If that’s not enough, the vibration from the engine, when it comes back to life, can be described at best as rough.
This was just one example of how the start/stop system may come across as the biggest annoyance in the history of Golfs – hence, causing it to be switched off (thankfully there’s a button next to the gear shifter that allows you to control it) the entire time I had the car. I’m sorry Mother Earth, but I. Just. Can’t.
Fortunately, the rest of the Golf remained pleasant. The interior build quality is consistent with its other pricier variants, and that is something noteworthy. Speaking of which, the only telling bit(s) this is the entry-level 1.0 TSI model are the manual air-con controls, GPS-less audio headunit, missing convenient controls on the steering wheel and the lack of paddle-shifters. Oh, electronic parking brakes – with an Auto Hold function – come standard.
As a refreshed Mark 7, this Golf’s exterior gets some updates to keep it relevant. The front bumpers were given a cleaner look this time around, paired to a pair of redesigned headlamps that comes with LED daytime running light, keeping up with current trend. For the curious, the colour code for this test car here is also new: ‘Peacock Green Metallic’.
At the rear, the Golf gets an entirely new pair of tail lamps, making it more prominent at night. It doesn’t end just there – the reworked bumper includes new reflectors and diffuser, and a now hidden exhaust tailpipe. 16-inch alloys, wrapped in 205/55 R-16 Pirelli Cinturato P7 rubbers, are also part of this deal.
Under the bonnet lies a petrol-driven 3-cylinder, 12-valve 1.0-litre turbocharged engine, and mated to VW’s venerable 7-speed DSG, it whips out 110 bhp and 200 Nm of torque, available from as low as 2,000 rpm. Standstill to 100 km/h takes 9.9 seconds, and it tops off at 196 km/h.
No where close to the claimed 20 km/L, but definitely good enough by real world standard
The Golf bumbles along the expressway in a respectable and refined manner, with engine noise and transmission shifts barely felt when you’re conservative with the accelerator. The cabin is also well insulated against wind and road noise, showing how Volkswagen prioritized the car’s overall refinement; after all this is a family-oriented car hence it’s safe to say VW got their priorities right on this front. To actually hear some life from the engine bay, you have to work it and push near the 5,000 rpm region.
Downshifts can come across as slow, taking noticeable moments to decide whether it should dive down one or two ratios; then again, performance isn’t this car’s priority so if you need a family hatchtback to perform like it’s on fire on a daily basis, you might want to consider forking out more moolah for the GTI instead.
In terms of handling, the Golf is known to have this point sorted. Like business as usual, it has good performance/comfort balance although it still errs on the softer side of things compared to Ford’s Focus. The well-weighted steering responds in a faultless manner when you attack a series of bends - good job here. Body movements are well controlled - body-roll is present, true, but there is nothing significant enough to throw it off-guard.
At the end of the day, the updated Volkswagen Golf 1.0 TSI will continue to see its fair share of fans who wants a German hatchback that will not cost too much to run, and cough out for both tax and insurance.
But at $110k with COE, the $107k Ford Focus hatchback still cannot be ignored.