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1 May 2009

On the Mark: VW Golf Sport 1.4 TSI

The new Volkswagen Golf (Mark VI) pushes no new envelopes but devastates rivals with a classier ambiance and more importantly, a lower price tag.

Despite suffering a dip of 11% in worldwide sales for 2009, Volkswagen is very close to overtaking Toyota as the world's largest car manufacturer. 363,000 units separate the two as the first quarter numbers of 2009 revealed. A number which Volkswagen would easily overcome with the newly launched Mark VI Golf.

Volkswagen's rivals must really hate the Golf. 35 long years of production, and each time a new generation is required, the brief is the same: "Like the last one, if you would, only a bit better please." And that's all that's been required to keep it Europe's bestselling car.

Sporting Volkswagen's new design language, most people would have noticed how much the new Golf Sport 1.4 TSI looks like the 1997's Mark IV Golf. The Walter De Silva penned lines are simple; those straight taut lines should enusre longevity. Oddly, I found a great deal of similarity between the new Mark VI Golf and the classic 1993 Peugoet 306, penned by Pininfarina. Regardless, the new Golf is a welcomed departure from the German manufacturer's Gallic-inspired themes with the previous model.

Volkswagen made no attempts to hide the fact that the new Mark VI Golf is pretty much the same underneath the skin as the previous model. The accountants from Wolfsburg complained of thin profit margins as a result of the long 30 hours needed to build the Mark V Golf, hence a re-design was needed to maintain the financial health of the German manufacturer. Which is no bad thing since the Mark V Golf is a thoroughly well engineered euro-hatch.

The similar driving experience meant a composed ride and light fuss-free steering. The Golf Sport 1.4 TSI is not a replacement for the GT sport. Despite having a "Sport" tag on paper, this is not exactly a fun steer.The focus is clearly on making the new Golf a quiet drive. Better aerodynamics and more effective sound insulation marked an improvement in refinement.

The hushed driving manners compliments the somewhat clinical cabin that has undergone the most changes. The previous model, Mark V Golf suffered a dip in outright perceived quality in the interior. An issue which Volkswagen had taken seriously. The new Mark VI Golf feels like a return to form. Every panel is tight and consitent. Each surface feels soft and tactile to touch. A very pleasant surprise considering that the design brief was to cut cost. If not for the the peculiarly high driving position, the new Golf is spot-on for the space on offer and the placement for all major controls.

The asking price for the Golf Sport 1.4 TSI starts from S$87,800. Sounds a lot for a 1.4 litre engine. However with the help of supercharging and turbocharging, the 1.4 TSI engine churns out a healthy 160 horsepower. Mated with Volkswagen's famed Dual Clutch DSG transimission, acceleration is brisk and enjoyable; 8.0 seconds to hit 100 km/h from a standstill. Given the strong performance, fuel efficiency is unexpectedly good (6.0 litre/100km). Over the weekend with the Golf, I was close to calling Volkswagen (Singapore) to check if the fuel gauge was actually faulty. The meter barely nudges despite my heavy footed driving! Take some time to get used to the jerky low speed gear changes, otherwise, the Golf Sport 1.4 TSI's drivetrain is close to flawless, showing other manufacturers the way to downsizing petrol engines.

While the flashier Golf GTi that should arrive on local shores later in the year remains high on many's wish list, there is plenty to recommend for the Golf Sport 1.4 TSI. The European hatchback leader returns with more class and an even more affordable price tag (Especially the case for the base model with a detuned 120bhp, 1.4 TSI that starts at S$74,800). Who can argue with 35 years of evolution?
Volkswagen Golf Sport 1.4 TSI
Engine 1,390cc,Supercharged and Turbocharged DOHC
Transmission 7-speed dual-clutch
Wheels Driven Front Wheels
Max. Power160 hp @ 5800 rpm
Max. Torque240 Nm @ 2000 rpm
0-100 km/h8.0 secs
Top speed220 km/h
Fuel Economy6.0 l/100 km (combined cycle)
CO2 Emissions139 g/km (Combined)
Dimensions (L x W x H) / Weight

4199mm x 1786mm x 1479 mm/ 1,286kg

Price with COE* $87,800

*Prices quoted are indicative of prices in Singapore. Please contact your local distributor for prices in your country.

P.S You would need to option for bigger alloy wheels to replace the puny standard 16" ones.

Reader's Comments

1. 2009-05-01 19:20  
6.0 l per 100 km?

could that be a misprint? whats a combined cycle?
but again for a 1.4 to churn out 160 horsepower, perhaps so...

my 1.6 cooper supercharge is already 8.0 and i would hardly call that fuel economy, let alone the Golf which is only a 1.4 engine...

but price tag is indeed alluring...
2. 2009-05-01 22:49  
6 litres on 100kms is hardly fuel efficient, but its no secret that VW/Audi are lagging behind BMW and lately even Daimler in terms of efficiency... the BMW 116i uses abt 4,9-5,5 litres on 100 depending on how you drive it. The Diesel versions are of course even better with 3,9 - 4,5 on 100kms. For a meager 1,4l engine, the VW uses too much for german efficiency applauses.

On the other hand, I am surprised to hear that some ppl manage to get a 1,6l Mini Cooper up to 8 litres... boy, you must really beat him around the block, huh? or is this just driving in SG city mode? The usual for this car is abt 6 litres and the much racier turbodiesel is 5 litres on 100kms...

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