Posts tagged ‘hatchback’

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”


Leave a comment

By Gerald Yuen

DS3 best tank ever-2

Best mileage per tank of fuel for Lenspeed’s Citroen DS3 Staff Car

Embarking on a self-motivated “eco challenge” with the DS3 ain’t that easy at all, with plenty of variables factor in. It wasn’t a complete stroll in the park the past two years, as most my driving was done in cut-thrust traffic right smack in the sweltering afternoon heat. On bad days, one tank of 42-litre fuel could gather at most 450km– not that promising for a car with tyre dimensions of 205/45/17, and one that weighs under 1200kg. This statistic can be rather discouraging, and that might also be due to my exposure to the diesel-like consumption of the previous Staff Car, the 122bhp Mk6 Volkswagen Golf (easily clocking up 15km/l on the combined cycle without breaking a sweat).

This time round, I decided to go even easier on the throttle, anticipate traffic, and keep in appropriate gears most of the time (not a difficult task as the 1.6 THP motor prefers to be left operating in its wave of torque under 3000rpm). 70% of driving was done on BKE, SLE and TPE, while the rest were reserved for food hunting in neighbourhoods at crawling speeds.

I noticed that the engine felt most at ease when left in 6th at around 80km/h, and the computer indicated a range between 20km/l to 25km/h when wafting along at that comfortable speed. During city hooning, you can feel that much more fuel will be used when working through the 1st and 2nd gears, more so than from 3rd to 4th. That might be due to the long gear ratios, prompting me to hang onto a lower gear before it runs out of puff.

I managed to clock 620km with 42.5 litres of fuel. That works out to be 14.5km/l. The most encouraging number after 2.5 years of DS3 ownership. Better late than never, then. Not a bad scorecard for a petrol variant that can sprint to the century under 7.5 seconds. Faith in turbo petrol efficiency restored…


Leave a comment

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.

Leave a comment