Posts tagged ‘gti’

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

What drives you? It’s not only Caltex, according to Lenspeed


“There are certainly ingredients to help us achieve this intangible blend of mechanical pleasure geared towards putting a smile on your face”

A lazy and humid Sunday afternoon led to this entry, very possibly fueled by thoughts on what makes a car tick all boxes when Lenspeed embarks on an unceasing search for the perfect driver’s car. This time, we delve deeper into the mechanical insights of a vehicle’s drivetrain. More specifically, we leave out the transmission and focus only on driven wheels.

Yes, we will omit all-wheel drive for a full-fledged three-way impression, and will save this comparison for a rainy day (rightly so!). So now we are left with rubbers that are in charge of powering the car from either end of the chassis.

One might opine that RWD will be the obvious choice for car enthusiasts, as most cars of a sportier nature comes with this configuration in default mode. We wouldn’t disagree, because Lenspeed had plenty of fun in cars set in motion by the rear wheels. They typically offer a well-balanced ride, since the weight distribution is often engineered to be more neutral as the bulk of the drivetrain’s weight is tilted to the rear to counter the heft up front for a front-engine vehicle.

There are also advantages for a RWD drivetrain even when the engine is mid or rear mounted. This sensation is more apparent in high-powered vehicles. Cars tend to squat when it starts to accelerate as they labour for grip from the rear rubbers. It plays to their advantage because the engine’s weight helps the car to gather traction on the wheels that are powering the vehicle. This, we feel, makes RWD such a special drivetrain if engineered by the right minds.

Precious wheel time with RWD machines yield positive results most of the time. We spent a day with the BMW 1 Series M Coupe, and were impressed by how adjustable the chassis is, and its ability to handle 335bhp just by two rear rubbers. Mid corner adjustability is superb – you can get the tail wagging with electronic aids switched off just by teasing the throttle and letting the front rubbers work only on directional changes. It’s a natural way of enjoying poise and control in a very confident manner. RWD proves to be triumphant over other drivetrains time and again, and will still be a petrolhead’s default choice in the foreseeable future.

That should leave cars with a FWD drivetrain biting the dust, yeah? Not quite. Lenspeed feels that FWD will always have a place in our heart, not because we spent most of our time driving them, but some are indeed seriously fun propositions. While most FWD cars tend to lean towards understeer when driven on the limit, there are a handful engineered to tackle corners with as much intent as RWD vehicles. Yes, steering inputs can be intrusive at times due to the front rubbers having to cope with changes in direction and sending torque to the tarmac, but this arguably intrusive and synthetic feel can be forgiven as some cars, hot hatches in FWD configuration in particular, offer a particularly unique experience only FWD cars can afford.

We zoom in on hot hatches because they tend to have a shorter wheelbase, and this is key for FWD enjoyment. You can benefit from lift-off oversteer when tackling a sharp bend by going in hard and fast, and subsequently easing off the pedal and directing the front wheels to the intended path. You can cork the inside rear wheel, get it standing on a “tripod” and allow the chassis to work its magic. Of course, this requires more work from “external resources” – narrow and less grippy tyres on a damp surface are preferred. A good example would be the Suzuki Ignis Sport Lenspeed had access to last month, when we took it out for a spin up North in a Gymkhana-like circuit.

There is no secret recipe for absolute driving fun. But there are certainly ingredients to help us achieve this intangible blend of mechanical pleasure geared towards putting a smile on your face. You wouldn’t go wrong with a sporty RWD drivetrain. They can be a handful and a tad too playful at times, but dial it down a notch when that happens, keep all electronic aids on, and you will enjoy a neutral driving experience at a comfortable tempo just like any other drivetrain. If you are in the market for FWD fun, opt for a short wheelbase car, preferably a hatchback (Suzuki’s Swift Sport would fit the bill!), and dispel the myths regarding your daily hauler being relegated to just a boring mode of transport.

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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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