I recently read an article done by Eric Chin about the Golf being a classless car …. by classless, he does not mean a person is cheap. More like is there a car a person drives whom no one can label the driver as being rich/poor, introvert/extrovert, young/old, fresh grad/successful business man, professional/non-professional …. well, you get the drift. And he concluded that the Golf fits such a profile. You can read how he comes to this conclusion here:
It’s a very interesting article. I personally find it well written, humorous and entertaining. But do I share his views about it? Let’s look at it in detail:-
You’d have to be living in Mars if you don’t know what a VW Golf is. In the 35 years since it was introduced to the world, it has achieved almost as much legendary status as the VW Beetle and Elvis. Now in its 6th incarnate, the Golf has always been one of the most desirable vehicle for a small hatachback family car. To run some numbers:-
Category: C segment hatchback small family car
Engine variants: 1.4 TSi (160PS/240Nm) and 2.0 GTi (210PS/280Nm)
It’s closest rival in the 1.4TSi category is the Peugeot 308THP (156PS/240Nm) where as in competing against the GTi, there are a number of sport players such as the Mazda 3 MPS (256hp/380Nm) and the Renault Megane RS 250 Cup (250hp/340Nm). I’ve not driven the MPS or RS to say much (though a great many who has says the MPS torque steers too much where as the Megane RS eats the GTi anytime, anywhere) but the GTi drives and handles pretty nicely, much better than its younger sibling. However, as this article talks about the daily drive of a Golf, the TSi would serve this function pretty well.
Our story with the Golf started when we needed to find a replacement for the Peugeot 308THP. The candidates shortlisted were:-
Honda and Toyota was never in the consideration list because I feel their cars is over-priced and under-spec-ed. Since we were using a continental turbocharged car, it is understandable that among the list, only the VW Polo offered any kind of driving excitement. We were finalizing the booking details of the Polo when a friend of mine offered to test drive the Golf.
Needless to say, the poison was too great to resist. In terms of trim, it’s far better compared to the Polo which is as well equipped as a marathon swimmer in a rock climbing competition. In terms of space, it trumps the Polo by offering space the size of the national park and don’t get me started with the engine performance. I still get that tingling sensation down under when I kick my (gear) stick to S and floor it.
A slew of features confuses this car to be a girls car (which incidentally fulfills this well enough. This, by no means is an admission that it’s a girl’s car). Auto lights are standard. Even is the missus forgets to light up in the dark, the Daytime Running Lights is more than enough to alert everyone ahead of the car.
The car has auto cruise, though admittedly, it’s not much used when it has never gone outstation in the 1 year of ownership.
On the other stalk, you’ll find the controls for the auto wiper which is another useful feature for the occasional forgetfulness when driving in the rain. Also seen is the paddle shifters which I find useful only on descent from Genting Highlands. The paddles serve to hold the lower gears necessary to keep speed at a more controllable situation (ok, I’m getting old. Don’t drive as fast as I used to)
Beer drinkers would love this car … it’s the only one that comes stock with beer openers which is also functions as a divider for cups/bottles. Smallest details that makes like more meaningful. Of course, drinking while driving is a big no-no.
Boot space is decent (though not as large as the Peugeot 308), offering 350litres of boot space which isn’t much if compared against regular C segment sedan cars. However, the trump of every hatchback is the rear opening which opens up wide, making it easy for odd shaped boxes to enter. With the rear seats folded, the space increases to a whopping 1,305litres of space. Sadly, the seats don’t fold completely flat but that’s alright. It’s not like I’m going to sleep at the back.
Other features include footwell lighting which is not only useful when searching for dropped things in the dark, it also increases the ambiance of the cabin. The intensity of the lighting can be controlled via the Multi Info Display Panel through the steering. The dual zone air auto airconditioning does its job well in keeping things chill, reminiscing of good ol’ Denso units found in Toyotas and old Sagas/Iswaras. Too cold in fact that most of the time, I keep the temperature at the border between cold and hot air most of the time.
One not to useful feature is the tiny eye glasses holder:
Seriously, I wonder if the glasses in Germany are made super thin since most of our sunglasses won’t fit in there.
Here’s something that caused me to panic some time ago:
The glove compartment is not to say particularly huge but notice where the service bootlet is placed on top? A great many Golf owners didn’t know there is a slot there and when you think you lost your service book and want to replace it, it’ll cost you more than RM300 since the book has to be ordered from Germany.
Fuel consumption of the 1.4 is pretty good. I average about 500km per 50litres of RON95 although that’s mainly due to my heavy right foot. Some have said they can get 600km for the same amount of fuel driving just purely around the city. Outstation drives should break all records. Hey, who needs a hybrid when this scores just as well in saving petrol?
There are some other useful features not advertised in the brochure such as auto-up/auto-down on all 4 power windows which allows another key feature which is to remotely wind down and wind up your windows via remote (hold the unlock button for a few seconds for down and lock for up) and parking light (perfect for parking at dark corners where with the flick of the signal stalk either left or right will light up both front/rear left or right DRL and tail light). Probably something so common in Germany that they forget about it here.
Being a VW, there is tons of modifications you can do to dress up the Golf:
One of the most common is to change the rear taillights to LED R types and OSIR exhaust tips:
The RNS510 is also a useful upgrade as it adds GPS, DVD player, SD Card reader as well as giving the option for owners to add a Bluetooth module (which I did). Also added is a MID cable for iPod/iPhone/iPad which allows songs in those handhelds to be played through the headunit and will also charge those devices at the same time.
The cable does not come with the car and I bought mine in eBay. Costs around RM80++.
Problems with the Golf
The Internet is flooded with information about how the DSG judders at low speeds, particularly between gears D1 and D2 … probably due to the RPM being tuned to be too low and causing engine knocking when trying to set off more briskly. In many instances, VW has identified the clutch pack to be the main culprit for this and have changed some of those afflicted by it. A great many is supposedly solved by a DSG software update. As mine does not suffer the gearbox judder as bad, I have opted to wait for my next service before updating it.
The other common “problem” I get is from the elderly who criticises why so small a car for so big a price? At that price segment, I could have got a Toyota Camry or similar D segment cars. True …. but only if I needed the space. The driving appeal of the Golf cannot be compared with any Asian D segment.
There’s also the thing about mechatronic failure (the part which essentially acts as your left foot in this manual-auto clutch system). When it decides to go haywire, what you would get is a DSG with erectile dysfunction … nothing happens even when you floor it at D or manual mode. Well, maybe a small blip on the rev meter but there is absolutely zero kinetic power. Dead in the water. Fortunately, no issues on mine so far …. hope it stays that way.
Maintenance schedule of the Golf
It’s every 15,000km or 1 year, whichever comes first. Here’s the maintenance schedule and estimated costing (assuming there is no price increase). Do note that different SCs may have variations so at best this is just a guide:
In case you’re interested, here’s the maintenance cost for the GTi
Comparing against a Honda Civic which requires owners to go back for service every 5,000km, the Golf’s servicing cost seems reasonable.
And so, coming back to Mr Chin’s article about the Golf being classless. I suppose he’s right …. if we live in other parts of the world. The fact remains that Malaysia overtly taxes cars, creating an inflated amount that does not reflect the true cost of the vehicle. The Golf TSi sells for about RM160,000. Assuming a person takes 90% loan at an interest rate of 2.5%, the monthly installment comes to RM2,000 for 7 years and RM1,625 for 9 years. That’s a lot of money …. even at the maximum 9 years repayment, a person needs to earn a minimum of RM5,000 nett per month. The average Malaysian probably earns around RM3,000. Overseas, the Golf is priced much more reasonably but here? Well, I believe a rich man can own an affordable car but a poor man cannot afford an expensive car. Like it or not, just based on the price scale, if you drive a Golf, you’re certainly above average in terms of earning capacity.
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