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Volkswagen Golf road test review

Photos by Low Fai Ming. Text by Nicholas Low, sgCarMart.

Humble origins

After the almighty Golf R, it seems that the iconic hatchback is, too, capable of taking on a more humble identity - in the form of a 1.2 TSI.

With the trend of engine downsizing at full steam, it is little surprise that we get to see more cars bearing smaller units - much less from the Germans, who have been at the forefront of this bearing by actively employing smaller capacity force-induced engines in their cars.

We first laid our hands on this Golf 1.2 on a long drive up North, but that did not fully satisfy our curiousity about how a puny 1.2-litre unit would do justice to the multi award-winning Golf. Hence, we took it out for a local city drive to find out how well it will fare in our urbanised environment.


Up close and personal

Being the cheapest Golf on sale now, the 1.2 does without a host of visual treats, such as the contemporary LED daytime running lamps on the Golf Sport.

As a result, the Golf looks more plain than before - almost like seeing the girl next door at prom night in jeans and a T-shirt.

It gets five-spoke running shoes which look simpler and less sophisticated than other Golfs' too, although they are essentially the same size as those on the 1.4 TSI.

Once you enter the cabin, you'll start to ponder "where have all the buttons gone to?". Only a handful of switches fill the centre console now, because the base Golf comes without Volkswagen's driving mode selector and Park Assist.

The steering wheel is also totally void of any controls. That said, its classy, three-spoke design with a slightly flat bottom retains its aesthetical appeal and feels good to the touch. Another good thing is that the touchscreen MMI system lays intact.

We particularly like the two-tone interior in the test car, which brings out a more upmarket feel, straying from the 'budget' impression caused by the lack of equipment.

The drive

The biggest change in this latest Golf, no doubt, lies in its engine bay. A smaller 1.2-litre now fills the space below both 1.4-litre units as the base variant.

As a result, compared to the next-in-line Golf 1.4, some 18 strong horses and 25Nm of torque have now taken leave. Surprisingly, the smaller unit still feels relatively perky and does not take away the driving fun found in previous variants.

Despite doing with less punch, the Golf 1.2 still retains the instinctive and lively handling of a hatchback that makes it very likeable. But expectedly, it neither feels nor sounds the best when stretched.

Driven sensibly, however, the puny plant feels quiet and refined - especially during idling when its existence is hardly heard or felt, so much so that you'd have thought that the engine has been cut off by the auto start/stop system.

Also, it will return a fuel economy of close to 15km/L even under hard driving.


We reckon, then, the Golf 1.2 is a perfect choice when it comes to the smart and budget constrained car buyer.

Read the original article here.


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