Cars

Published on August 9th, 2016 | by Subhash Nair

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VW Golf TSI Review: A Living Legend

The Volkswagen Golf TSI was updated not too long ago – adding for the first time in Volkswagen Malaysia’s history, 2 trim options to a single model. For the Golf, this change brings the Comfortline and Highline variants to showrooms, making it possible for Malaysians to pick a set of features that are more relevant to their needs.

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The unit we’re testing here is the Highline Golf TSI. At RM159,888, it’s a whole RM10,000 more than the base model. But for that, you do get self-parking, great looking 17” Madrid alloy wheels, ‘KESSY’ keyless entry & start, a drowsiness detection system, and sport seats with ‘Mel Stripe’ seat covers.

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At this price, it’s difficult to understand how it can stand up to the long-established competition from Japan and the value-packed options from Korea. We got our answer behind the wheel – the Golf is simply more fun to drive.

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It weighs 1300kg, which one would expect considering the amount of kit it comes with. Despite that, it still feels light on the go. Steering feedback is unparalleled and the powertrain is extremely responsive – it’s a driver’s car through and through. It’s also a lot better in traffic than many other cars equipped with turbocharged engines and dual-clutch transmissions. Although the older Jetta and this new Golf both have spec sheets that read 1.4 TSI and 7-speed DSG, the two are just worlds apart.

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It’s fast and communicative around corners, especially thanks to the Extended Electronic Differential Lock. This system applies a little pressure to the inside wheels during a turn, improving grip and accurate.

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In fact, only the Ford Focus manages to match the driving experience offered by the Golf. Despite the significant price gap between the two cars, the Golf manages to holds its spot as the go-to hot hatch for a couple of good reasons.

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Firstly, the transmission in the Golf is lightning quick and it definitely is more open to doing what you tell it to do. Yes, it’s still a 7-speed DSG, but it’s smoother and faster than earlier iterations. The turbocharged 1.4-litre TSI engine in here is extremely fuel-efficient despite delivering 250Nm of torque when it’s asked to. Thanks to a host of features including BlueMotion technology, Engine Start/Stop and regenerative braking, the new Golf TSI returns an amazing 5L/100km. Our own experience in KL traffic saw the needle move closer to 7L/100km, but that is still very impressive.

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Secondly, the image the Golf projects is far more confident. It’s built in Europe and has a cleaner, more minimalist design, giving it a premium presence. The Golf itself is the crown jewel of Volkswagen owing to how closely it still sticks to the values of its predecessors. This gives the car an undeniable ‘icon’ status – people recognise the car even though the marque was pretty much absent from Malaysian streets a decade ago.

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But what exactly will owners find once they start using the Golf daily? In short, loads.

Despite the aggressive looks and sharp driving characteristics, the Golf is surprisingly comfortable no matter where you sit and it has very usable luggage space. Design-wise, the Golf manages to hit the mark quite well on many fronts. The car can appear sporty, professional, feminine or even masculine depending on who’s driving. It’s the sort of design that hides the amount of work that was put into it.

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Zoom into the details, and you’ll find Volkswagen Malaysia did well in packaging the Golf for our market. Nifty features like self-parking are pretty cool and easy to use. It came in handy a couple of times, and we’re sure owners who get used to the sequence will find it easy to execute.

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Owners will also find the ‘Composition Media’ infotainment system delightful. It feels right at home in the Golf and brings a futuristic element to the functional interior and the 8-speaker set up is definitely a strong point. There are plenty of other thoughtfully designed features, like the cooled glove compartment and the drawer compartments under the front seats that will come in handy.

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In conclusion, the Golf offers some of the best build-quality and driving characteristics in the segment. There’s nothing else in the market that can come close, BUT owners will still have to ask themselves if the price tag is really justified. At nearly RM160,000 – the Golf opens itself to competition from mid-sized SUVs and family cars. And that kind of practicality is something most Malaysians simply cannot afford to ignore. But if it’s a hot hatch you’re after, there’s nothing quite like the Golf.

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Volkswagen Golf TSI Specifications

Engine: Turbocharged 4-cylinder with BlueMotion Technology Capacity: 1395cc

Capacity: 1395cc

Power: 150PS @ 5000-6000rpm

Torque: 250Nm @ 1500-3500rpm

Transmission: 7-Speed DSG

Acceleration to 100km/h: 8.2 seconds

Top Speed: 216 km/h

Price: RM159,888


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