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Picking the 'right' family car from the Volkswagen family

Desmond believes that if you need a people-carrier, just get a proper Multi-Purpose Vehicle (MPV)

Look, I get it. It's all the rage these days for car manufacturers to come up with new models and bodystyles that sit across multiple categories - compact crossovers, performance Sports Utility Vehicles (SUVs) and the likes. And you could admittedly make a fair argument for this, as cars like these offer customers a single option that can satisfy multiple needs.

Call me old-fashioned, but I think this is all a little bit too much. Coupes should be coupes, SUVs should remain as SUVs. There isn't a need to conflate the two. And when it comes to the function of family-hauling, what used to be the realm of MPVs, more and more people are now turning to compact SUVs and large coupes and whatever else cross-segment models you can think of.


When it comes to a people-carrier, I need something that maximises space and comfort, and excels in offering utility. I want seven seats, so that I can carry additional passengers on the weekends, especially if there's a need to bring the grandparents around. I want a car that's simple to drive and comfortable on the roads.

This brings me to the Volkswagen Touran. Yes, compared to the Golf Variant or the Sportsvan, the Touran is certainly not as stylish and handsome on the eyes. It also does not offer the same quality of handling and driveability, and is arguably a less 'fun' car. But really, those things don't matter. As a sensible grown-up family man, I need to think less about the one buttock in the driver's seat and more about the other six in the back.

And that's why I would still have the Touran over the other two. It's bigger, it's more spacious, and it has two more seats. I've got much more configurable space in the interior, and the flip down tray tables are great for the kids to watch their cartoons on their iPads. And I would argue that it is the better car, precisely because it looks more tame, and is less of a driver's car - there is less impetus to drive aggressively, and the car is a constant reminder that I am a sensible grown-up. This is a proper MPV, and that's what family cars should be.

And when it's all said and done, if it is power that I am after, my Touran still has more of that than the Golf Variant and the Sportsvan.

Nigel thinks every parent should get his or her swag on with the Volkswagen Golf 'Swagon'

Everyone makes wrong decisions once in awhile; Desmond and Sabrina's choice in this piece is an example of one.

Desmond picked the Touran as the most ideal family machine because it's got the most seats and space but considering the shrinking family size in Singapore these days, how often are the Touran's seven seats going to be used?

Is all that space really necessary? Plus, owning one is akin to saying, 'Hey world, I'm now a humdrum family man, and this is what I drive!'

Sabrina's Sportsvan choice is along the same lines - spacious cabin, generous trunk and adjustable rear seat configuration. But, she does like the Sportsvan because it's handsome, and drives nicely - more 'sports' than van if you think about it - that, I won't deny.

Howbeit, the Sportsvan remains a tad pudgy for my liking, the same way the Mitsubishi Colt Plus is when placed next to the Colt Version R.

Hence, the top dog in this pick is deserved by none other than the Golf Variant, the estate version of the world's most popular hatch. Most of you would now probably be going, "Hmmm, wagon? That's sort of like a hearse, no?"

Subjectively, I'm a man who prefers some junk in the trunk. The Variant grants the same utility as cars like the Sportsvan and an SUV and besides, how much dirt driving can one do in Singapore to require an SUV? A wagon is a sexy alternative for those that want convenience but wish to depart from the norm. The Variant builds on the Golf's already stylish body and the designers made it even more crisp, sharp-edged and contemporary.

For those already considering buying one, the Variant, in R-Line trim, provides stylish and exciting transportation for five, is spacious and functional (605-litre trunk), and doesn't sacrifice on performance (0-100km/h in 9.5 seconds means it's the fastest of the lot) or economy.

But more importantly, just imagine the car lowered on coilovers, sporting a fancy set of Work rims and Borla exhaust system. Who doesn't want to be the sharpest dad or mum in town piloting this swagon?

The Sportsvan is a good-looking MPV that confuses some with its euphuistic name, says Sabrina

It is perhaps best to agree with Nigel when he says the Golf Variant has the greatest swag out of the three, since it won the prestigious 'iF gold award' for excellence in product design. But what does having swag really mean? According to extremely trustworthy website Urban Dictionary, 'swag' can be defined as 'appearance, style, or the way he or she presents themsevles'.

Going by this definition, one must assume that 'swag' only relates to the appearance or the overall presentation of something or someone. But is 'having swag' reason enough to overlook the extremely versatile Sportsvan?

If you like how the Golf looks and handles but require much more space, the Sportsvan is probably the next best thing in Volkswagen's lineup. The Touran on the other hand tends to be more boxy than foxy and practically screams 'I'm a sensible family man'. And while the Variant may look great on the outside, folding up the back seats after you've unloaded a bunch of gear is a time-consuming affair - something you wouldn't have to deal with if you had the Sportsvan.

In fact, the Sportsvan is essentially a nicely-sized five-seater MPV with an emphasis on sharper looks. Naturally it is based on the hugely popular Golf, but is taller, has a higher seating position and a longer wheelbase for improved practicality.

Ideal for young couples with kids, the Sportsvan offers an impressive 500 litres of boot space with the seats up, that's 120 litres more than the Golf - though 105 litres lesser than the Variant - without sacrificing on looks. You can shift the rear seats independently and longitudinally - a surprising feature on the Sportsvan, but something that you'd find in a through and through family hauler, like say the Citroen C4.

Unlike the Golf Variant and Golf Touran, the Golf Sportsvan doesn't see a need to fit in with a specific car body shape. It's not enough 'van' for people to mistake it for one, and just enough 'sport' for a spirited drive with the family in tow.

Text Credits: Desmond Chan, Nigel Yong & Sabrina Lee

Photo credits: Low Fai Ming

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