Daddies 'R' Us | Volkswagen Golf R

BY Joel Tam

OK, so Keegan thinks the Golf R works. But he's young(ish), single and likes parrots. What about those of us with kids in tow? Will there be enough room to swing it in this Golf?

I can't help it. With three boys constantly on my back, I have to consider fatherly responsibilities when choosing a car. Unless the car in question is clearly of a 'second-car' breed - like a roadster - issues of space and practicality need to be factored in. Especially in Singapore where buying and maintaining a car is expensive, that one car often has to be all the cars you want, in a single package.

As with all hatchbacks, the Golf is easy to manage and park, mummies who drive will be happy to know that. It also looks fairly non-descript in an HDB carpark so it won't attract any unwanted attention. Side mirrors feature useful parking lamps to illuminate dark spaces.

Factory ride height will clear most kerbs. But watch for the higher ones, once scratched, replacing those twin exhaust tips in the center won't be cheap.

Cabin has a classy ambience for a car of this category. Footwell lights a nice touch. Overall build quality is typical VW standard - heavy, tight and robust.

Space is ample for my three boys aged eight, five and one and a half. Baby seats will fit snugly behind the front passenger seat with room to spare. The car features the standard three seat-belts in the rear so all the boys can buckle up safely.

If 'Sport' mode is too hard, there's always the 'Comfort' setting, which in my opinion is perfect for everyday use. Bumps and undulations are well controlled and the car still feels planted around corners - I personally like my cars setup with a hint of 'rock (yaw) & roll'.

A minor issue common with all VAG cars equipped with this audio command center is the one-piece power button. Because of this, the symbol rotates with every turn of the knob, which irritates the heck out of me. It is a minute detail I agree, but couldn't they have made it like the air-con dial with a fixed center and rotating rim? If you're like me, just use the steering controls and leave the button upright and untouched.

So it's handsome, fast, well-equipped and practical enough for a young family. But is it worth the sub-$170K price tag? I'd say 'yes'. Simply because the car leaves you wanting very little more. It manages to wrap many of the qualities that car-nut daddies want in a stylish hatchback that even mummies can appreciate. My wife can attest to that.