Posts tagged ‘golf’

Text and photos by The Lenspeed Team

From carving corners down a B-road, to shuttling the family off for firefly viewing, the ‘7.5’ iteration of the Golf GTI sharpens a familiar formula further

Forgive us for being quite critical of the Golf GTI. We are hardest on those we love the most, and with the GTI, at least three of Lenspeed’s staff have at least owned one at some point. Two still soldier on with Mk5 GTIs, festooned now with freshly renewed COEs. You could consider us fairly passionate about this hot hatch.

You would have known the old story by now, about how the Mk5 changed the game for the GTI, and thereafter the formula stuck. It literally reads off a textbook: TFSI/TSI + DSG = the hot (insert car variant here) of today. Everything from Nissan GTRs to Porsche 911s to BMW M5s now have some form of a turbocharged engine paired with a dual clutch gearbox, so needless to say it was quite a watershed car, the Mk5 (yes, it may not have been the first, but it certainly was the most popular). The latest imitator is the Hyundai i30, which is maybe proof that there is still life to the now age-old concoction yet.

So it is with great familiarity that we swoop up the keys to the Mk7.5 Golf GTI. Yes it’s all very mature and polished, so much so that the facelift – for enthusiasts – is hardly noticeable in terms of drivability. The Mk7 already set the standard so high that the extra 10 PS in the 7.5 is more for the paper chase than anything else. In fact, it does lag a fair bit so when boost kicks in it overwhelms the front tyres more than expected (but it could have also been due to worn tyres).

The most major change for us is the gearing of the steering, which feels almost as meaty as in the Mk5, but far sharper and accurate. The pre-facelift Mk7 felt a tad light and lacking feel, but they dialed it back in here. Otherwise, everything else is business as usual. Perhaps there is a tad more finesse to the gearbox shifts, but we’d be none the wiser. It’s going to be a moot point anyway as Mk7.5 GTIs will soon come with a brand new DQ381 7-speed gearbox that currently does service in the Mk7.5 Golf Rs.

Perhaps what’s more noticeable is that the signature red stripe now creeps its way into the headlights more definitively and there are snazzy dynamic turn signals for the rear lights. The interior received a strong touch, with the newest toy in the car world – a screen replacing the instrument panel – that Volkswagen calls Active Info Display (AID). The 9.2-inch infotainment system is also redesigned, as if the last one was bad at all, and features gesture control now. All very fancy, but we would be just as happy do without the technology as well.

What’s very cool for a Mk5 owner though coming to a Mk7.5, is discovering how much better the interior is packaged in the newer car. There is so much more space around the footwell, with smarter and neater design. Now that’s an improvement!

On a whim, we decided on a slightly extended test drive by driving into Johor to catch some fireflies at Kota Tinggi. Thus, the GTI was subjected to a gamut of stress tests – from the dead slow traffic on the Second Link, to the maddening crowds in Johor Bahru and the winding B-roads towards Kota Tinggi.

It didn’t surprise us, and neither would it you, that the GTI excelled in all of these situations. With Auto Hold, a small footprint and a cool Dynaudio sound system, sitting through the traffic was no sweat at all. On the B-roads, the GTI was pure entertainment. With tyres a little worn, we could get the chassis to work a little more with the road, and discovered roadholding is infinitely secure; if one could nitpick, maybe a little dull. But you can really go faster than you think without feeling at all worried you’ve overestimated yourself. Body rigidity is up there with the best of the lot, and the MQB chassis doesn’t feel aged at all next to competitors.

If there was anything surprising, it was that the Mk7.5 rode a bit harsher than the Mk5, more sports car like, even with its larger rims factored in. Brakes are also direct and some may say even a bit too grabby, but it all contributes to a more committed experience. It is by no means unpleasant, but combined with an exhaust note that can sound a bit synthetic at times, it could feel a tad contrived. All things considered though, we are picking on minor grievances.

We finished off the weekend with fuel consumption logged at 11.1km/l, so we could have easily achieved a range of above 550km even when pushing hard. That is a GTI all right – a car for everything and everyone. It still remains the swiss army knife of hot hatches, but we think we’re ready for the next revolution in the Mk8 GTI. The formula is already close to perfection, so something new is due. Perhaps a hybrid GTI is in the cards?       



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Text and photos by The Lenspeed Team

The new Mk7.5 Golf 1.0 TSI showed us, in spectacular form, once again how much technology advances in a matter of years.

It wasn’t quite so possible to get this mix of enjoyment and economy even with the pre-facelift Mk7 Golfs, at least when considering the Singapore line-up. If you wanted a bit of poke you got the 1.4s, and while frugal for its time these days its just about middling the pack. So if you really wanted to conserve fuel you would have went for the 1.2, which for all intents and purposes is a fine engine except that it lacked a bit of character.

The 1.0 TSI replaces the 1.2 TSI; and startlingly, at least for the time being, it’s the only Golf you can buy besides the hot GTI and piping hot Golf R. It seems VW is taking longer than usual to get the new 1.4/1.5 Golfs into the market, presumably not for lack of wanting (the Golf 1.4 TSI Highline has just been homologated).

But there’s reason to cheer. The 1.0-litre wonder is truly superb. Call us coloured, but ever since we tried a three-cylinder engine in a Mini Cooper many years ago, our impression of these thrumming motors were formed (mostly good). Somehow, they love to be thrashed to a heady redline, and even though they aren’t the smoothest you don’t really care because there’s a bit of character to the off-beat idle. And the best thing is, the harder you drive them, the smoother and sweeter they become. So you keep caning the thing in anger and it must be said, it’s rather fun.

But surely that means fuel economy suffers? Astoundingly, it wasn’t the case for the Golf 1.0 TSI. Any attempt to worsen its fuel economy is quickly recovered with a short cruise, even if it meant heading only to the next traffic light in an urban commute. It was remarkable how the fuel consumption readout refused to go below 16km/l. At best, we hit 23km/l and were confident to do better had we not run out of highways. Everything seemed geared to preserve the black gold, and yet it is fantastic how little it compromised the everyday driving experience.

If we had a gripe, it’s that the start-stop system is rather rough, especially with the 3-cylinder – and this is the unfortunate disadvantage with these engines. But overall refinement is great, maybe even better than the Mk7 models. It just feels so efficient and clean, as if everything is optimised perfectly.

Yet when you find a good road, the car won’t disappoint. Nevermind the torsion beam rear suspension; you’d be hard-pressed to know unless over severe compressions. The basic handling of the Golf is already agile, precise and some say clinical. But for this class of car, it’s already one of the best. Damping is spot on (with small rims no less – always our preference), body roll is well-managed and the chassis is unflappable. You can really feel all four wheels working in a hard cornering stance, and that for us is always a mark of a good handling car.

So everything about the 1.0 TSI is improved over the old car, almost. But one thing stayed the same which perhaps could be the Achilles’ heel of the car. Its extremely basic in its specifications. With a stiff asking price, one is expecting a lot more bells & whistles that comes as standard. Unfortunately, the most you can get here is Bluetooth, LED rear tail lamps, reverse sensors and… Nothing much else to write home about. One can’t even retrofit App-Connect to the Golf 1.0, for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. I know this is almost a premium product, but, it needs to be better equipped! Just look at the Kona 1.0 to see what we mean…

But that aside, this is Golf 1.0 TSI is a stunning achievement. If this is the last of the downsized petrol engines, we are very happy that it has come this far for the entry-level class.


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Text and photos by The Lenspeed Team


Wagons have always been a rarity in the Singapore market. Our traditional saloon-loving population failed to see why they’d want to buy something that resembled a hearse – at least that is what they’d think, anyway.

Step forward to 2016 though and you’d see hearts and minds are changing. Wagons are now on regular offer by distributors, with models like the Mazda 6 wagon, Subaru Outback and Mercedes C-Class estate being on sale for some time now. There is growing appreciation for the extra space afforded by a wagon, yet with car-like driving characteristics and handling.


This brings the Golf Variant which we test drove recently to the fore. A particularly poignant example of its breed, the Variant is destined for greatness, based on the already-excellent Mk7 Golf, which feels at least a generation ahead of its competitors in refinement, its drivetrain and chassis rigidity.

The very familiar 1.4 TSI does duty in the Golf, which is no bad thing at all, with its smooth power delivery and torquey characteristics. The 7-speed DSG feels particularly suited to the car too, being even more intuitive to your throttle inputs than you’d hope it would be. Although acceleration to 100km/h on paper is 9.5 seconds, you’d always feel it is faster than it is.


What made our test car a bit special was its R-Line kit. Never mind that it’s technically not a real “R” product from Volkswagen; it at least has some mechanical differentiation from its standard cousins, with sports suspension and larger alloys. Truth be told, the car rides harder than we thought it would, but for most situations it is entirely comfortable and easy to live with. Only but the worst of potholes may unravel it and jiggle some of your passengers.


The interior, needless to say, is wonderfully put together and is an exercise of German sensibility. The panoramic sunroof is a bit of a party piece too for passengers. Apple CarPlay, which came on our test car, is probably the next best thing since sliced bread for iPhone users. You can project whatever you see on your phone, onto the centre console screen. No more relying on a phone mount to fumble with.

As you may be able to tell, we like this one a lot.

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By Team Lenspeed


Hopping into the MkV R32 certainly brought back good memories. We had the MkV GTI for three years before swapping it for the FD2R. This unit comes with a Bastuck exhaust, a massive Forge intake and Sparco rims. Although we prefer to keep it bone stock, the addictive VR6 grunt aided by the catback exhaust definitely elevates the overall appeal of a Golf. It’s a left-field choice, we admit, but that’s precisely why we fell in love with it.

On the move, nose heavy tendencies can be felt the moment you chuck it hard into a corner – not unexpected considering that the VR6 takes up the entire space of the engine bay (even the battery needs to be relocated to the rear boot!)

At 1500kg, this is one heavy hatchback. You could definitely feel the heft while ploughing it through the corners. I prefer to let it waft on the freeway rather than keep it on the boil, as it can’t match the urgency of the FD2R’s K20A. What’s pleasantly surprising is the low end torque that instantly reacts to my input, a very different feeling compared to the MkV GTI where the turbo takes time to spool for it to gather serious pace. It’s not as reactive as a K20A of course, but still receptive enough to derive direct response and pleasure only NA motors can muster.

Technological progress have indeed helped turbocharged units to identify gaps in the torque curve and throttle response, but in our opinion, purists will still crave for the combination of an authentic engine note and accessible throttle response. The R32 will not be a petrolhead’s first choice primarily due to its heft, but old school ingredients are well in place for an enjoyable time behind the wheel, which is why Lenspeed is always on the hunt in the classifieds for rare finds. And in our opinion, the R32 fits our list and will be part of our staff fleet for the long haul. In-depth updates soon!

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By The Lenspeed Team


The Golf GTI seems to fill the gap of the do-everything car pretty convincingly, whichever generation you pick. From the stellar Mk1 which first spawned the hot hatch fever, all the way to the latest tech-laden Mk7, Golf GTIs serve their owners faithfully and, at most times, tirelessly.

In Singapore the MkV Golf GTI really re-launched the badge back into mainstream view, thanks to the quantum leap over its predecessors as well as the favourable moderate-low COE climate back in 2005. While nobody really paid attention to the Mk4 Golf GTI (which offered less performance than a diesel Golf in some cases!), mid-level execs looking to inject some excitement into their lives lapped up the MkV by the hundreds. It helped as well that going into its model year cycle, COE prices dipped to its lowest levels in recent memory in 2009 – sustaining the sales boom even right up to the point the MkVI came by to replace it. It almost felt like the MkVI came too early and disrupted the hay-making of the MkV.


With its direct shift gearbox (DSG) and 100bhp/litre output TFSI engine, the MkV was a potent machine and stands proudly amongst other performance cars even today. Handling has been tuned to err on the side of caution (read: understeer), but for most situations the car will reward you with stability, comfort and vast point-to-point pace. It is even fairly economical, with reported real usage figures around 10-11km/l.

These days, MkV Golf GTI are available by the bucketfuls in the market, so you can take your time to choose. Early cars (2005) are by now either exported or scrapped, so few can be had but you will have your pick from 2006 onwards. Best picks are from the run-out 2009 models, and there are some special editions worth a punt too, including the Pirelli Edition, ED30 as well as the VP1 (the last unique to the Singapore market). For bangerwatches however, 2006 models are the ones to watch out for as they are now asking for as little as S$30,000. A good Chinese New Year gift to yourself, maybe?



Lenspeed staffers have had a fair bit of experience with Golf GTIs. Between us we have owned the Mk2 8 valver, the Mk5s (early year and late years) and at least one of us are now pining for pristine Mk1s for keepers. At some point Golf GTIs (especially MkVs and above) are likely to have been modified, and while the EA113 engines are typically hardy, you’d be well-advised to watch out for heavy modifications which may affect the longevity of the drivetrain, especially the DSG which is only rated to be able to handle up to ~380Nm.

DSC_0072Modifications are common on the GTI, such as this Pivot gauge mounted in what used to be an aircon vent

The most common modifications include an ECU Stage 1 upgrade (various brands are available or custom maps too), catback exhaust systems and big brake kits. Cosmetically, what you see out there is as varied as your imagination but many designs are an acquired taste.

Oil changes are advised to be done every 15,000km, but if the car has been modified, it is a good idea to reduce that considerably. The EA113 runs very hot, especially under heavy boost, so make sure service records show the car has been cared for with top-notch engine oil. It is common to have oil consumption between services (up to 1L per 10,000km is our experience), which is a point of annoyance for many owners, so keep an engine oil bottle handy with you always (check if the owner does!).

DSC_0491To dial out understeer, rear sway bars are commonly installed which are thicker than standard items. Standard suspension is from Sachs

It is common to find coil packs failing (if you find this in service records) for modified cars, so check that these have been dutifully replaced. The 6-speed DSG rarely has any issues but earlier cars can feel slightly jerkier due to wear and tear. The gearbox is supposed to last the lifetime of the car but there are shops out there which can do a refurbishment for you. Volkswagen will also do a recalibration for you to reduce the jerks, which has been reportedly a good way to solve the issue.

Some GTIs imported to Singapore are made in South Africa (as opposed to Germany), and these usually do not show any major differences between each other. However, if you are looking at a parallel import model, note that OMV values tend to be lower and therefore will have a bearing on the asking price.

VW-Golf-GTI-Pirelli-07A no-nonsense interior, pictured here is the Pirelli Edition with special yellow stitching and seats inspired by tyre treads.

On the inside GTIs have lovely Recaro seats up front which only show excessive wear on its side bolsters – try to see if this can be rectified to prevent further damage but it is not a major point. It is common for early year cars to have peeling plastic buttons and knobs; these are generally easily replaced but can be costly. Check a collapsed rear headliner too, which looks more severe than it actually is – probably due to our hot weather, the glue holding it together gives way. It’s an easy fix, but will set you back a few hundred dollars.

Look out also for aftermarket head units, which were a common modification because MkVs were brought in to the country with extremely low-spec RCD500 units that offered no navigation, Bluetooth or USB connectivity. China-made units are generally to be avoided as they are slow, laggy and unsightly (operating system wise), but if you see RNS510 units installed you know the owner has put in some good money. Early 2005/2006 GTIs also have a limited functionality split-screen onboard computer (as opposed to a full screen in later models), so watch out for this if you like to tinker settings yourself. Generally, rattles are also common and can be a hide-and-seek affair to solve, but it is not a major issue unless it bugs you.


All in, the MkV Golf GTI is a quality product that warrants a new COE renewal, especially in this atmosphere of sliding prices. The MkVI that followed seems more polished, but it has the new EA888 engine which some say lacks a bit of character. It also feels a little bit “in-between”. The MkV, if well taken care of, will be a keeper. Our staffer with a MkV had this to say: “Every time I get the itch to look for another car to replace the Golf, there are many flights of fancy but nothing that can quite offer the all-in-one package that the GTI does. The great fuel economy, effortless torque from the engine and can-do attitude gives me no reason to ever sell it.”


Sold in Singapore between: 2006-2009, 3-door and 5-door
Prices: $30,000 – $75,000
Engine: 2.0-litre TFSI, EA113
Gearbox: 6-speed DSG
Performance: 0-100km/h in 6.9 seconds (stock – but a Stage 1 can bring that to low 6s)




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By The Lenspeed Team

Can Volkswagen’s Golf in base spec trim deliver more miles for the money in its bid to capture mass-market appeal?


When Volkswagen Group Singapore (VGS) broke the news to us regarding the introduction of a smaller capacity Golf, the Lenspeed team wondered if this could be VW’s secret weapon to drive sales, especially with restrictions and taxes impeding the market’s desire to acquire large capacity haulers. A small turbocharged unit fitted in a practical Golf. A marketing stroke of genius, perhaps?

While this reduction of engine capacity to 1.2 litres to complete VW’s petrol Golf hierarchy at least in the local market tells most of the story, drivers will also not receive standard features found in the 1.4 TSI Golf specified with an “Equipment Pack”, or “EQP” in VGS speak. Lack of keyless entry, an 8-inch touchscreen display, “Park Assist”, LED daytime running lights, bi-xenon headlamps with cornering lights, sunroof, 18-inchers and twin tailpipes might be deal breakers for some, but we at Lenspeed feel that a Golf in its most fundamental trim level has its own appeal. It directs the focus to one that supplies affordable and a fuss free mode of transport in a constructive and practical manner, just like how it was set out to accomplish back in the 70s with the Mk1. The appeal of a Golf based on a unanimous vote from the Lenspeed jury lies in the manner in which it delivers maximum efficiency with minimal fuss.

While we can live without these “enhancements”, a crucial tech “upgrade” that would be a huge plus for a car developed to tackle the miles will be the “Coasting” function, which is found only in Golfs equipped with a driver profile selection. What this does is reduce “mechanical drag” by decoupling the engine from the transmission to save on fuel. We tried it in the 1.4 TSI Golf, and it works brilliantly. It’s a perfect basis for comparison here, too. How will a 1.2 TSI Golf (104bhp) with narrow tyres stack up against the slightly more powerful 1.4 TSI Golf (122bhp) with broader rubbers and a “Coasting function”?

With a tyre profile of 205/55/16 compared to the 225/40/18 slapped on the 1.4 TSI with an EQP trim, you will notice more lean from the chassis as it loads up the front rubbers, but there is always a sense of control even when you embark on more enthusiastic driving. Mid corner adjustability is predictable – you can pitch it in and the chassis conveys a sense of reassurance even when it sways towards slight understeer. And with this encouragement from the driver’s seat you will realise that you can chuck it in at a tempo you would not expect to achieve from a five-seater, 104bhp hatchback. This is primarily due to the manner in which it executes a great deal of “flow” – the suspension works in conjunction with the smooth power delivery to cover ground in an effective manner.

The utilitarian Golf certainly feels more urgent than 175nm of thrust on paper, at least right from the get-go. Sink deep into its wave of torque up to 4000rpm and there is more than sufficient poke to keep up with traffic. It displays its love for the open roads too, settling into a comfortable cruising momentum while holding firmly in the highest gear. We were not able to trouble the upper regions of the rev range as much as we would like to, but there is no question that the 1.2 TSI motor feels at home riding steady with the needle hovering just over 2000rpm in seventh. The stability at freeway speed is superb, and more remarkable is the fact that the motor feels relaxed, belying the pint-sized unit resting beneath the hood.

The fuel gauge refuses to settle for less even during more heavy-footed driving, with the MFD consistently recording no less than 12.2km/l even when driven within the congested confines of the central business district. When the roads widen, fuel figures start to land even more in our favour – a 100km, traffic free route yielded 18km/l, not a far cry off VW’s claims of 20km/l. These are numbers that are nearly identical to the 122bhp-powered 1.4 TSI Golf. We anticipated from the start that it would be a fistfight to the finish line, and now we conclude that both are equally efficient haulers and winners in their own right.

At $116,300, it represents superb value considering the current COE landscape. We wouldn’t pitch this variant against premium German hatchbacks though; we even reckon potential buyers of the Mazda 3 (priced at $103k) flocking towards this tempting proposition. And yes, green cars need not be based on diesel motors or even fettled by an electric motor. A simple recipe with ingredients polished by the largest automaker in the world proves that petrol cars can triumph in this relentless pursuit for eco perfection. And indeed, the 1.2 TSI Golf’s main rival might very possibly still be the 1.4 TSI armed with a very neat trick up its sleeve. Nevertheless, both appeal to a different set of consumers. It is astonishing to see how Volkswagen manages to bring forth two similar offers (at least in the local market) without overlaps in the product range – a flexibility that indicates a strong sign of automotive domination. Well played, Volkswagen.





“The appeal of a Golf lies in the manner in which it delivers maximum efficiency with minimal fuss”





“With this encouragement from the driver’s seat you can chuck it in at a tempo you would not expect to achieve from a five-seater, 104bhp hatchback”





“The stability at freeway speed is superb, and more remarkable is the fact that the motor feels relaxed, belying the pint-sized unit resting beneath the hood”


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By The Lenspeed Team

Holy trinity picLenspeed’s take on three most appropriate cars for Malaysian roads

Most of us associate road trips with breathtaking sceneries and frequent pit stops to indulge in local delicacies. But there’ll be a select few who place equal emphasis on the mode of transport. This, we feel, defines a proper road trip experience. Most cars can ferry passengers to destination Z fast, but only a handful can keep the driver absorbed in the experience to keep petrolheads satisfied. Lenspeed takes a look at three cars (tried and tested, of course!) for varying budgets that can perform well on the freeways, without diluting the element of fun when navigating through challenging B Roads.

Volkswagen Golf 1.4 TSI (Mk7)

It might be the least powerful car of the trio here, but there is plenty of usable torque at the lower regions of the rev range to extract maximum potential out of the 122bhp motor. Although steering inputs could be sharper, there is sufficient feedback through the rack to keep a keen driver engaged. It handles well too – dealing with gradual switchbacks in composed fashion.

Dial it up a notch through sweeping corners and it settles into a predictable understeer – throttle off and it steps back neatly in line. Its tidiness through the bends came as a surprise for us, since there is also plenty of travel in the suspension, allowing it to glide through potholes efficiently. We have to stress that the magic lies with the 16” rubbers that might not look aesthetically pleasing, but works wonders with the suspension to supply excellent damping even under duress for extended journeys. (FYI: The Golf Sport comes with 140bhp and 17” rubbers, but felt less well sorted and resolved than the 122bhp variant). Best of both worlds in a “back to basics” Golf. This car punches far higher than paper specifications. A brilliant choice for a family of four.

Renault Megane R.S. 265

This French pocket rocket receives a slight tweak over the 250 Cup. Aesthetic differences of the R.S. 265 over the predecessor include 18-inch matte black alloys and glossy black lacquer finish on the door handles, extended LED housings and darkened eyelids. And those keen in this segment of the market would be more interested in the technical enhancements – it receives a 15bhp and 20Nm hike over the 250 Cup, accompanied by a “freer-flowing” exhaust for more vocal presence.

We took it out for a spin and the enthusiasm attained right from the get-go is primarily attributed to the inertia-free unit that revs freely to redline. Its initial climb is characterised by feint turbo whiffs up to 4000rpm, replaced by more beefy resonance once it reaches boiling point. And it gets more dramatic when you engage “ESC Sport”, which is when you get to fully utilise the extra performance over the 250 Cup. (We’d pick the sound of high-revving NA cars in a jiffy, but we’d be more than happy to settle for this).

Despite this power hike, the Cup Chassis remains unruffled and eager to impress. 1379kg of heft isn’t entirely featherweight to begin with, but you can still plough it into a bend and let the chassis work its magic. It deals with irregularities cleanly, and the suspension manages to find a fluid rhythm on surfaces where others tend to jiggle and lose pace as a result. And because it is mated to a proper self-serviced 6-speeder, it entitles the driver a full expression of mechanical involvement, which makes it an accomplished and satisfying “B Road” weapon for those craving for optimal driving involvement. We assure you that the R.S. 265 will be perfect for stretches leading up to the plantations in Kota Tinggi.

Porsche 997.1 GT3

You’d be forgiven for thinking that the GT3 is too hardcore for the road. Yes, its low stance may pose a problem for car parks, and yes, it may drink a fair bit of fuel. But you’d be surprised to learn that the GT3 is a beautifully damped machine, giving a firm but wholly appropriate ride that seeks to get as much tyre on the road as possible, whatever the tarmac condition.

It is also a relatively long-geared car. So if you’re intending to cruise at somewhere above 150km/h, the car won’t discourage you. In fact, because the basic GT3 model has so long gears, it has received some criticism for its slightly lazy driving experience behind the wheel, with a laid-back countenance that’s not quite GT3. But you’d hardly complain on a long highway.

The result is a car that is genuinely comfortable enough to be on a highway jaunt, yet equally game for a B-road blast.  While ultimately less focused than the RS model, this GT3 could be the best balance struck for real world situations.

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By Gerald Yuen

Go with the flow pic

It’s human nature to crave for the best possible version of any product they desire. Take timepieces for example. The more we get hooked onto the dark depths of the horological world, there is a tendency for us to desire more complicated “movements”, as simple automatic “ETA” complications won’t make the cut for us anymore.

The same concept applies to cars. More exposure to performance-oriented vehicles will raise the bar on our level of satisfaction. But do big numbers on paper directly translate to driving fun? Yes, driving cars with oversized motors beneath the hood will make us feel invincible, but we’d rather substitute this temporary boost of adrenaline with a continuous stream of what we call “flow”… and we assure you that it can be more fun than just driving flat out for short spurts.

So what is flow? We have to admit that this article from Pistonheads set us thinking: Simply put, flow is the ability to wring maximum potential out from a car without having to back off excessively, even when dealing with nip and tuck roads. For a vehicle to achieve ample flow, two conditions have to be met.

Firstly, the chassis has to work seamlessly with the suspension to neutralise irregularities. This might sound simple, but we’ve been in many cars that might be fast on paper but struggle to hold ground with less powerful cars, primarily due to the vital lack of understanding between suspension, chassis and tarmac. This leads us on to the second point. Optimal flow can be attained with a “less is more” approach. By operating a car with less horsepower, you are more likely to keep revs nearer to its boiling point, and that maximises the potential of both the powertrain and drivetrain most of the time.

Let’s compare a 122bhp Mk6 Volkswagen Golf, with a 200bhp Mk5 Volkswagen Golf GTI. There will definitely be occasions where we can fully utilise all 200bhp from the GTI, and it will probably reach destination Z much faster than the 122bhp Golf on the same stretch of roads. But this immeasurable sensation of flow can be lacking in the GTI – and this is where the 122bhp variant will triumph. It soaks up bumps efficiently due to the 16” rubbers that look like donuts, its chassis less rigid but well sorted to tackle regular B Roads confidently, and the engine is not overly powerful so that you can keep it on the boil most of the time. The GTI is definitely fast, but the Mk6 Golf is certainly fun.

Even if your pockets run deep enough to buy higher end variants, you might want to reconsider what makes driving fun first, before splashing the cash on your purchase. And if you are working on a tight budget, you can either rob a bank, or go with the flow.

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