Some say that the most exciting Volkswagen Golf in recent time is the Golf R, although there are others who claim it is the Golf GTI that is the better car. What then of the humble Golf TSI, the one without the eye-watering amount of horsepower and mind-tingling torque? How does it measure up?
Take a jab at the accelerator, and you’ll notice the 1.4-litre turbocharged engine is punching above its weight. The engine produces 148hp, but it is 250Nm of torque, which comes in near idle, kicks the Golf into motion almost immediately. Hold the pedal to the floor, and you’ll hit 100kph from standstill in 8.2 seconds; keep it down longer, and you’ll arrive at a top speed of 216kph.
The engine is paired with a seven-speed DSG that has gone through many improvements. It must be said that whatever it is they did to the transmission, it works. Coming down the gears this time is just as buttery as the acceleration.
More importantly, the gears don’t rough up the car and passengers in stop-go situations. It feels as if the second gear is held much longer to allow you to creep to the rear of the vehicle in front, as Malaysians always do in traffic, and then accelerate at a moment’s notice.
The upside to this is a more comfortable time searching for an empty parking space; also in low speeds situations. While we’re here, the steering feels appropriately light which makes turning the wheel easy.
On the other end of the speed spectrum, this regular Golf is appropriately fast. Hitting speeds beyond the legal limit are accomplished without effort. Almost all of the time, you won’t even feel that you’re running more than 110kph because the sound dampening puts a gag on road and wind noise.
This Volkswagen feels stable at high speeds, and it tracks the road accurately. Plenty of confidence is coming from the steering wheel, which feels appropriately tight and sensitive.
Both the Golf GTI and the Golf R handles beautifully when the roads start to turn on itself. This Golf is no different, well... there are a few differences. The suspension here doesn’t feel as firm as the other two, and this results in a more comfortable time sailing over humps and holes you’ll frequently encounter. Body roll has been dialled back, and you’ll scarcely feel it is there even when you’re kicking u dust from one apex to the next.
You’ll almost be never short on grip, not when the Golf comes standard with the XDS or Electronic Differential Lock. This piece of tech, which works with the ESC, sends an appropriate amount of power to the correct wheel for the situation to keep the wheel — and the car — from spinning. Given that it isn’t over-the-top powerful, the XDS is something that you may not need until you need it.
As with most modern cars, the Volkswagen allows you to tweak how the vehicle moves and handles. Available in the R-Line, which is the one you see here, the driving modes adjust the powertrain, steering and the DSG to various degrees.
Most of the time, you’ll be driving in either ECO or Normal, or Individual, crawling in traffic thinking of the Sport mode you’ve reserved for the weekend. At the very least, the interior is quite a pleasant place to be in. The large touchscreen on the centre stack is part of an ‘infotainment’ system with MirrorLink, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto installed within.
Seats inside the Golf R-Line is covered in Vienna leather interior that feels soft. The seats are nicely bolstered around the sides. Lumbar support is available for the front seats for comfort.
More trimmings from the R-Line catalogue are placed outside, replacing the bumpers, grille, spoiler and exhaust for visual effect. The colour, called Turmeric Yellow, looks like gold and it adds a gleam to the Golf. Definitely outstanding, it is a much better-looking car than the Sportline, which has been dropped from the line-up.
Whether or not to buy really depends on what kind of Golf you want. This Golf won’t make you feel like you’re a speed demon, but it isn’t dull. It will give you power when you want it and will happily trade horsepower for litres-per-100km when asked. In so many ways, this is a just-nice Golf, one that will be happy to drive everywhere every day.
Specification: Volkswagen Golf R-Line 1.4TSI
Engine 1,395cc, 4-cyl, direct injection, turbocharged | Transmission 7-speed DSG, front-wheel drive | Power & Torque 148hp @ 5,000-6,000rpm / 250Nm @ 1,500-3,000rpm | Performance 8.2s 0-100kph, 216kph, 5.2l/100km combined | Price RM173,390, on-the-road without insurance | Score 9/10