Volkswagen Golf 1.4 TSI A7 – Car of the year?
One of the few major concerns of car buyers nowadays (less COE, of course) would be the comfort/quality of the car as well as the fuel economy. Singaporean drivers are generally quite concerned about how much their car drinks, whether it’s a guzzler or on par with a hybrid, unless you’re behind the wheels of a supercar, that is.
Marry both comfort/quality and fuel economy together and you’ll find yourself wanting a Volkswagen. Many drivers would know Volkswagen as a pretty fuel economical car, and having established itself on the continental bandwagon, it truly is worth every single penny you pay. And in this time of COE, nothing is more worth it than the new Volkswagen Golf Mk 7.
2013 has seen the launch of many new models on the road, ranging from your everyday sedan/hatch to the top notches of luxury like the facelifted 7 Series and the all-new Mercedes Benz S Class. And with no better way to end the year for the average consumer driver on the road, I’m glad that the Volkswagen Golf clinched The Straits Times Car of the Year 2013 award.
Volkswagen has enjoyed numerous accolades throughout the years, including the Golf GTI in 2005 and the Scirocco in 09 for the same award. With the launch of this new revolutionary Golf, it has since been conferred more than a dozen awards worldwide, another reason why you should head down and take a serious look at the car if you’re thinking of getting a VW.
I had the opportunity to bring out the new Volkswagen Golf Mk 7 for a day or two. It has been on the roads for a while, and I dare say it’s rather appealing on first sight, compared to it’s predecessors and even others in it’s class.
Compared to the Mk 6, the new Mk 7 bores a more “squarish” look, rather similar to how Audi is styling is current range. Intricate details on the bumpers now differentiate between the Mk 6 and it’s award winning successor, even for the average driver who doesn’t know much about cars.
I find the Mk 7 having the ability to stand out among other hatches, given it’s sleek yet not-so-attention-seeking profile. With the launch of two different variants (i.e. the Golf 1.4 TSI (base model) and the Golf Sport 1.4 TSI (top end model)), you can now choose between different features. For example, the Golf Sport comes with Volkswagen’s signature LED daytime-running lights fitted into it’s aggressively shaped headlamp assembly, as well as a panoramic sunroof – items of luxury easily spotted from afar.
And even though the lower end base model does not encompass such technology, you’d be easily satisfied with the overall look and the rims. The 17″ rims on such a small hatch easily boosts the sportiness of the car, but at a considerable level – not so much until it becomes a ‘beng’ Evo or WRX.
Technology is perhaps what I feel is one area that Volkswagen deserves a pat on the back. Compared to the old Golf, the new Mk 7 has a lot more features customizable to the tech-savvy driver.
For starters like I mentioned, the new Golf Sport now comes with Volkswagen’s signature LED daytime-running lights and HID bulbs to improve visibility on the roads. This adds to the fierce outlook of the hatch during your everyday drive.
A step into the cabin will have you initially thinking: so dull? Or well, at least that was what came to my mind. However, the Piano-black interior will soon direct you to the controls you have at your fingertips, ranging from the touch-screen infotainment system at the center console. Depending on the variant you choose, the base model comes with either a 5″ Composition Colour radio system, fitted with MP3 and CD drive, as well as an SD card slot – as compared to the Sport variant which comes with the bigger and more intuitive 8″ Discover Pro navigation and radio system, complete with GPS, a 64GB HDD, MP3 and CD drives, as well as Bluetooth connectivity for your smart phone.
For those of you who often grumble about road noise, the new Golf allows for better noise insulation with it’s new acoustic windscreen damping film. No more loud grumbles as you cruise along the oh-so-rough PIE or AYE.
Most of us also grumble about a hatch’s boot space, and unfortunately, the Golf doesn’t stand out from here. It’s limited boot takes in 2 mid-sized golf bags, but no more. And from personal experience, because I took it on a spin and picked Kai up from the airport with it, I must say it’s not a good car to use when your passenger has two huge luggages. We had to stash one in the back seat.
Talking about back seats, the Golf seats two comfortably behind, but three’s a tad squeezy, even if they’re of smaller built. Rear passengers, however, get to enjoy air conditioning too, one of the few rare ones in it’s class.
Features you’d enjoy in the Sport variant would also include the Keyless Entry and Start-stop System (KESSY), front electric seats, and the most useful of all when parking – reverse cameras.
Similar to it’s other siblings, the Golf now comes with an Auto Hold function, which basically holds your car steady on slopes so that you don’t roll backwards. Coupled together with this is the Stop/Start function, where the engine cuts off whenever you come to a standstill – an attempt to save fuel. This, however, can be a little irritating if you get stuck in a jam, or are just queuing up for your turn at the lights.
You’d also be pleased to know that VW has done away with the old ugly handbrake stick, and replaced it with a technologically advanced parking brake button.
Performance and quality
Both the base model and the Sport variant houses a 1,395 cc turbocharged engine. At 122 horses, the base model variant easily impresses even the most power-hungry driver. Compared to my Elantra standing at 130 bhp, I felt the Golf had a significant advantage over pick up and acceleration. The Elantra lags for a moment, but power kicks in instantaneously at the blip of the Golf’s throttle thanks to the 200 Nm torque listed at 1,500 – 4,000 rpm. Those who are keen about paddle shifters will be glad to know that there is almost zero lag time whenever you flick the paddles – something I find impressive for a car in this class.
The Sport variant come with 140 horses, which unfortunately falls under the Category B COE once it kicks in in February 2014. This will probably result in more drivers making a beeline for the lower end variant, which I feel, at 122 horses, feels powerful enough for a car it’s size.
It also comes with no surprise that the 7 speed dual clutch on the Golf allows you to enjoy close to 750 km of driving range. I refused to believe it when I picked up the car from VW Singapore with a full tank, and returned it with the gauge showing full too. What kind of sorcery is this?!
In a nutshell, this car captures the attention of most age groups, ranging from the young, working adult to even the retired elderly. The cutting edge technology imposed onto this car, together with the new visually-appealing design, brings awe to those who are looking for a continental car to start off with/upgrade.
While a Merc or BMW might seem too far in the goal ladder for young executives, I dare say the Golf Mk 7 proves to be a very viable and promising alternative.
What I like:
- Performance – in particular, acceleration
- Handling of the car
- Build quality
What I don’t like:
- Minimal boot space
- Lack of features on the basic model
- Over-responsive Stop/Start feature