Posts tagged ‘tsi’

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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Text and photos by The Lenspeed Team


The benefits of Volkswagen’s MQB are now well covered in the press, but it is hard not to see why. When one gets into a vehicle blessed to be based on this platform, the incredible torsional rigidity and refinement of the chassis can be felt even without an expert behind the wheel. Then after a few days you realise even more gains when you see how slow the fuel needle drops.

The new B8 Passat is a true benefactor of MQB and has done very, very well to make sure it left no stone unturned to maximise this opportunity to make the Passat better in every possible way.


For instance, the car is now much bigger in every way, but for once it also looks incredibly athletic and dare I say it, even beautiful. It’s all in the details – the sharp creases that could only have been possible with some delicate manufacturing techniques; the LED tail lamps; the way the roofline rakes in an elongated, coupe-like way. It has been a while since we have seen a Passat that looks this good, and for that reason alone would have drawn some people to the showrooms.


But the good news continues in the interior. It seems to have been designed to be incredibly airy, with lots of interior space optimised by making the door and dashboard panels as thin and unobtrusive as possible. This can only come with decades of experience in building these saloons, day in and day out. The buttons, instruments and controls are all fantastically classy, and can easily pass off being in an Audi. You’d then start to wonder, perhaps unfairly, how amateur the attempts of other manufacturers are in trying to compete.


Drivers will enjoy a massage function that’s been orthopedically approved, although this may stoke the anger of passengers who do not get the same privilege! It is a seriously good massage, more shiok than what I can remember in any car I’ve driven in recent memory. Well, at least the rear seat space is now generous rather than adequate, so that should appease the driver’s companions somewhat.


The Passat we tried came with a 1.8 TSI and 7-speed DSG combination. The way the steering feels, the handling, the power delivery and the ride all feels very similar to a Mk7 Golf, which is no bad thing of course, as in our eyes that is the class leader among hatchbacks. It feels light on its feet, super efficient, yet super intelligent, being able to be supremely frugal whenever it can yet also responsive when it needs to be. An example of how brilliantly sorted it feels is its engine start-stop system, which is the smoothest I have tried in any car. The gearbox and engine tuning seriously takes some beating, the onboard ECU almost feels like an extension of one’s mind!


The fact that you get an efficiency of a Golf in something the size of an Audi A6 is also a revelation – the Passat is seriously frugal! Without batting an eyelid, you can see a range readout comfortably above 700km and the fuel gauge refuses to budge from full even after traveling 100 or so kilometres (although this could just be down to how it is tuned).


So is it perfect? No. One area which we feel it could be even better in was the ride comfort. In general, the ride of the Passat is firm and never cushy. This means over some roads it can feel a tad harsh, which is surprising in a luxury sedan. It is not bad, but for our local road conditions a softer suspension would be appreciated. The other is insulation from tyre noise, which is more noticeable given the excellent all-round refinement of the car.


We’ve never expected to say this, but a Passat has won our hearts in a way that no other recent VW product we’ve tried, had. What a car!

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Thoroughly competent coupe takes to the open roads in Singapore

By Team Lenspeed

We’re huge fans of modern Volkswagens, not from a driver-centric standpoint, but we appreciate its ability to be effective on literally any type of traffic condition. Even in base-spec VWs, these force induction 4 potters produce more than sufficient punch to pull you out of sticky situations. Now, the Scirocco is the latest car in the family to utilise the 122bhp 1.4-litre TSI motor. How will this pan out for a car that sits comfortably in the Category A COE bracket, while boasting head turning looks especially in this Flash Red hue?

First things first. This is the facelifted Scirocco, and you could tell it from a couple of aesthetic changes. The headlights are largely unchanged apart from the LED contour beneath the xenon light, and the front air intakes are now accompanied by what Volkswagen label as “aerodynamic blades”. Over at the rear, you’ll notice a slightly revised rear bumper. But what’s important here is the VW emblem that now doubles as a boot latch just like the Golf – a neat touch taking into account that you had to unlock the boot from the driver’s seat in the predecessor.

It’s interesting to note how well specced the Scirocco was at least for our test unit. There’s a panoramic sunroof, bi-xenon headlights with separate LED daytime running lights and a rear view camera. And we’re told that these are only available for the “Equipment Pack” (EQP) variant for a cool S$15,500 premium (for a grand total of S$141,800). Don’t get too excited yet if you’re scrolling through the interior pictures, because the triple gauge cluster and DCC (suspension setting) is only available in the test unit. But you’re still getting the flashy 18” rims, a flat bottom steering wheel and a “RCD 510” radio – that’s still pretty well equipped for a base-spec Roc. And we reckon that this is as good as it gets in terms of equipment levels, as I’m sure the product specialists at VCS would have done their homework to fit the Scirocco into the appropriate target segments.

How does it drive, then? To be honest, it drives very similarly to other Volkswagens. The power delivery is consistent throughout the rev range, with the low-end grunt of the 1.4-litre TSI unit gathering a peak torque of 200Nm way under 2000rpm. That’s not a stratospheric figure, and it won’t set your pants on fire if you put pedal to metal. But allow the light pressure turbo to spool and you’ll be covering ground at a respectable pace. You’ll be disappointed if you treat it as an out-and-out sports car, but the Scirocco (at least in VCS-spec) was never intended to be that hardcore right from the get-go. If you dial it up a notch, you’ll find that it’s a pity VCS didn’t include DCC as standard. Because the Scirocco’s character is best suited when left in “Comfort” setting, as it soaks up bumps much better than “Normal”. The sportiest suspension would be best left untouched if you’re pottering about ripped tarmac.

We’ve managed over 400km on local roads over the course of three days, and its safe to say that we’re more surprised by its eco-friendly credentials, although it looks far from green-centric. Interestingly, the Mk7 Golf 1.4 TSI comes with a “Coasting” function that reduces “mechanical drag” by decoupling the engine from the transmission to save on fuel. Not for this Scirocco. But we’re not really complaining if it can rake up more than 750km per tank – impressive number given that its running on rather broad 235/40R18 rubbers.

There are not many competitors in this segment for the Scirocco, especially at this price range if we factor in style to accompany performance numbers. And we reckon that’s why the predecessor was such a massive hit. But the game has changed significantly over the past four years with loan restrictions playing a major factor in consumer buying habits. Would you splash the cash on a brand new Scirocco? That boils down to how much you’re willing to sacrifice practicality for a perceived increase in style. Opt for the Golf 1.4 TSI with EQP if you prefer to play it safe. But this Scirocco won’t be bad a choice either if you want a quirky touch as a daily drive.

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By Team Lenspeed

350km covered in two days in Singapore. Where on earth did we go?


To be honest, Volkswagen’s Polo would be an unlikely contender in Lenspeed’s fast fleet. But focusing on its driver-centric values would be absolutely ridiculous, as it’s engineering is purely based on delivering maximum miles per tank of fuel.

Neatly wedged just under the base-spec Golf, this Polo features a 1.2-litre turbocharged unit churning out 89bhp and 160Nm. That doesn’t sound like much in modern day speak. But VW has a tendency to create products that administer more than paper numbers might suggest, and this Polo is no exception.

What we like about it is the manner in which it accumulates pace effortlessly, gathering a keen sense of flow even over harsh tarmac. We reckon this primarily stems from the 15-inch tyres measuring no wider than 185mm. It’s not groundbreaking engineering – just a simple formula that made cult cars so effective two decades ago.

Narrow tyres, responsive chassis and an urgent engine were the ingredients found in a hot hatch back in the old days. This Polo will not exactly set your pants on fire, but a relatively featherweight frame and minimal rolling resistance from the rubbers is no doubt a good step back in time to deliver honest driving rewards.

Practically covering all expressways during the off-peak period, we had the chance to figure out just how efficient this Polo is. We managed to clock 22km/l over the course of 350km, with 80% covered on the highway. And we reckon it could achieve well over a 1000km with 45 litres of fuel if we extrapolate the data. Simply stunning figures for a petrol motor. VW’s BlueMotion technology still renders old school petrol engines extremely effective, even with the proliferation of electric motors. Well played, Volkswagen.

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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


Marketed as the “seven-seater sports car” in Singapore at its launch campaign, the Touran was an oddball from the very beginning, providing serious performance in an admittedly dull exterior packaging. We like to bet that the Tourans you’ve seen on the road have been surprisingly quick off the line and even around corners, which is totally at odds with its traditional three-piece box shape. We suppose Volkswagen always had a sense of humour.


Until early 2014, Tourans in Singapore came only with the twincharger petrol engine, which for the purposes of this test is rated at 170bhp and 240Nm in the 2009 example Lenspeed sampled. This engine, already heaped with praise by international media, is truly a gem, sprinkling the Touran with more sparkles of magic than it would have you believe.


Early this year the TDI version was released, which provides an interesting backdrop to the already-excellent TSI version – would you pick a diesel Touran that, while traditionally having a lot more torque, is only 10Nm up from the petrol Touran? Add the fact that it is 65bhp down from the TSI’s output, and the comparison gets interesting – let’s find out.


What is common between these two cars is already half the battle won in the MPV market. Shedloads of space, including foldable and removable second and third row seats, means that the Touran fulfills its brief well. Its chassis is stiff and it shows with tidy, agile responses, offering utterly predictable answers to unevenness on the road. Blessed with a multi-link rear suspension setup, the Touran genuinely handles like a slightly bigger and taller Golf – no small feat considering its broader job scope. It is an undeniably good drive, as much as you want to dislike the car because of its looks. It definitely over-delivers on its visual promise.


Driving these two cars back to back is revealing, however. Saliently, the petrol engine offers staggering amount of performance from the get-go. Thanks to its supercharger, it overcomes the lag associated with both a small and a turbocharged engine, offering a low-end power delivery that outshines even that of the diesel’s, at least until the latter’s turbocharger kicks in. Yet, because its turbocharger has already spooled up in the later part of the rev range, the TSI continues to pull all the way above 4,000rpm, after which it starts to lose its momentum but not its eagerness. It’s more willing to rev all the way to its redline than the diesel, although there is hardly any need to. Even after 76,000km, the TSI engine felt like it has lost none of its horses, putting up a very, very impressive performance that constantly surprises one who has not tried a twincharged engine for some time.


The TDI offers no such surprise. It’s expectedly punchy, but not before you overcome a pronounced lag in the low-end that is simply absent in the TSI. This is a surprising finding for a diesel engine, which has always banked on low-end torque as one of its main selling points. One has to remember, however, that the twincharger is no ordinary petrol engine…


Given an extended period, the TDI version starts to grow on us. While offering performance that is more sedated, it was certainly paying off in terms of fuel consumption. The long-term average fuel consumption for the TSI was 9.5km/L, while the TDI managed 11.5km/L, even achieving 25.1km/L on one particularly economical journey! There is without a shadow of a doubt that the diesel engine is more economical, despite being ragged hard. It’s a grizzly sort of motor, but also one that feels pretty reliable and fool-proof.


Although both cars are equipped with different gearboxes – the TSI has a 6-speed DSG while the TDI has a 7-speed DSG – the differences are nearly imperceptible despite what has been said about the 7-speed box being more jerky and indecisive. If anything, the 7-speed box feels slightly faster in its shifts, although perhaps slightly less willing to kick down a gear.


Before I took these two cars out, I expected the Touran TDI to be the superior car by a comfortable margin, which is fuelled in no small measure by the hunger set upon the Singaporean driver for efficient diesel engines that have been out of our reach for so long. But in reality, this twin test has shown that petrol engines have made a strong comeback in the last couple of years thanks to forced induction, providing a power delivery that naturally aspirated petrol engines can never achieve before. While these new-fangled petrol engines cannot quite match the fuel economy of diesel engines just yet, if the Mk7 Golf 1.4 TSI is any indication they are definitely improving by leaps and bounds with each generation.

“Either way, you’ll be driving one of the finest MPVs in the market…”

In this case, the conclusion would be this: if you want a seven-seater (sporty) car, you’d enjoy the TSI version more. If you want the ultimate practical seven-seater car, the TDI version is just that. Either way, you’ll be driving one of the finest MPVs in the market, even if they are a little long in the tooth now…

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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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