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Facelift - Volkswagen Golf 1.2 TSI DSG (A)

Text by Desmond Chan, sgCarMart.
Photos by Low Fai Ming, sgCarMart.

The Volkswagen Golf - as segment-defining car models go, this has to be ranked among the most iconic of names. Over seven generations and 42 years, the Golf (and its various iterations) has continued to fly the proud flag for lovable hatchbacks.

First introduced in 2010, the 1.2-litre TSI engine offered buyers a cheaper, more budget-friendly option.

Now, the brand has made some slight tweaks to its entry-level Golf, catering to the budget-conscious driver aiming for that blend of German quality, Volkswagen dynamics, and the 'Golf' badge.


Up close and personal

One look at the car and you know it's a Golf, and that's important. It's a visually impactful car, with its sharp lines, attractive fascia and distinctive side profile. Two exterior details give away the fact that this is the entry-level model - the basic and rather dull five-spoke rims, as well as the all-silver 'TSI' badging at the rear.

It is when you step into the interior the phrase 'poor-man's Golf' will spring to mind. This is not to say that the interior feels cheap - quite the opposite in fact. The materials are soft to the touch, the seats are comfortable, and the sense of German engineering precision certainly permeates the cabin.

However, you certainly will notice the equipment, or lack thereof, especially when you consider it against the more expensive models in VW's range. This Golf feels more basic - the steering wheel is devoid of controls, and the rotary air-con control knobs have a distinctly old-school vibe to them. You even have to physically insert and turn a key to start the car, a rarity in new cars these days.

All in all, you do get the sensation that Volkswagen has been prudent in speccing out the car, so as to keep it affordable and under a particular price point.

The drive

The engine has been tuned for slightly more power, five more horses to be exact. It now makes 108bhp and the same 175Nm of torque as before. Despite the modest figures, the Golf is brisk on the roads, accelerating well - in no way does the car feel slow. The bump in power helps in overtaking manoeuvres on the highway. Together with the seven-speed DSG gearbox, the drivetrain is smooth, quiet and refined.

In a straight line, the Golf is a steady and easy-to-drive car. The ride is comfortable and forgiving, with the suspension more than capable of soaking up any imperfections in the tarmac. Its small footprint also means that even on our narrow roads, there's always space on either side.

In corners, the car certainly livens up a little, displaying some of the dynamism that the Golf is fabled for. You can feel the car's tightness and the tyres grip as you take the car through a bend. It's easy to have fun in this car - it's eager to feed your enthusiasm through corners.

Put together, this is a car that is easy and unassuming to live with, and you do feel the quality of German precision engineering. And especially in Singapore where speed limits dictate that power means rather little, it feels like a car well-suited for our roads.


Is this a poor man's Golf? Well, it is, especially if you've driven the bigger capacity models. The Golf 1.2 does feel like a slightly watered-down version of the iconic hatch that we know and love. Perhaps its biggest so-called fault is the badge it's wearing - it bears the heavy burden of the iconic 'Golf' name, and that's a whole lot to live up to.

Yet, as entry-level cars go, it's hard not to be intrigued and attracted by the Golf 1.2, especially for drivers venturing into the market for German cars. Yes, interior equipment may be lacking, and the car may not be as dynamic as its bigger brothers, but that's all on the inside. From the outside, it's neigh indistinguishable.

And in terms of straight-up affordability, on top of being obviously cheaper, Volkswagen also offers the maximum 70 percent loan on this base model, compared to 60 percent for the other Golf 1.4 iterations, making the monthly instalments easier to afford.

But perhaps most importantly, when someone sees you drive past, he's going to say, "Wow, he drives a Golf. Nice one, dude!" This may be the poor man's Golf, but it is still a Golf - four letters that invite the adoration and appreciation that is well-deserved. And you know what? That's good enough for us.

Read the original article here.


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