Posts tagged ‘VW’

Text by The Lenspeed Team

SKODA made a comeback to Singapore on Thursday, with its new showroom facility perched not-so-quietly at the backyard of Volkswagen Singapore’s building. It all makes sense – shared platforms, parts and technologies mean there are already huge economies of scale to have both brands under one roof.

The one thing less clear is how exactly the two brands will co-exist. In other parts of the world, there is more breathing space when it comes to price differentiation, because government tax isn’t such a big proportion of the overall cost of the car. In Singapore however, the tax on a Skoda is going to be pretty close to what a Volkswagen attracts. So for people who are going to pay 90-95% the cost of a Volkswagen for a Skoda, they might as well the little extra for the German badge.

But maybe there’s more to Skoda than just the price. Things like the self-charging torch in the boot, or the cavernous interior space whichever model you choose. And then there are also specifications – even the cheapest Rapid Sportback will feature KESSY and a rear view camera as standard. Not bad, but having only 2 airbags is a bit of a shocker too.

Also, VW currently doesn’t sell a 7 seater SUV, and Skoda fills that gap with the Kodiaq. VW killed off the Jetta, but Skoda ‘cleverly’ sneaks back into the small saloon segment with the Octavia. It will be an interesting next few months to see how Skoda fares. What is for sure is that it’s here to stay. Good news for everyone in the end. We hope we’ll see an Octavia wagon being brought in, or even a VRS; now that will really pique our interest!

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Text and photos by The Lenspeed Team

When I was in the army, there was always a white Caddy driven to camp by a fellow soldier. Equipped with DSG and a fashionable red interior, it was the first time I actually found a van attractive. I thought it would be a great idea as a starter car too, as I loved diesel engines and at that time the tax on diesel cars was simply too prohibitive. Fast forward to today and now Volkswagen will sell you a Caddy that seats 7, albeit with a petrol engine (diesels only come with the commercial-only Caddys unfortunately).

At first, the idea of a passenger van sounds utilitarian in the greatest sense of the word. The Caddy traditionally was only used almost exclusively for transporting goods, but now with passenger seats, Volkswagen is keen to sell it as a family vehicle too. It is a bit of an enigma, but with so many crossovers and segment-hoppers, I guess it isn’t that big of a surprise. That dovetails with the fact that quite a fair number of commercial vehicle owners in Singapore actually do a “DIY” solution of rear seats too, never mind that in the eye of the law it could be a bit of a pudding.

The new Caddy now looks sportier, with a front bumper and rims that could be off an R-Line equipped Golf. The rear lights are smoked, and the windows tinted, but nothing can hide that it is still a high-riding vehicle. The rear boot for example opens just like a conventional Caddy and is gigantic. Parking in a HDB car park may be a problem if you need to open the rear boot regularly. Overall, however, it looks good in a tough go-anywhere sort of way. There are some nice ‘jewelry’ details too like its LED licence plate lighting, silver anodised roof rails and bi-xenon headlamps.

Looking through the features list, the major points a family may look for are ticked. There is nice alcantara leather upholstery, cruise control, a modern 6.33-inch touch screen display, folding tables at the back of front seats, a rear view camera and even curtain and side airbags. Don’t for a second think that because it’s a van, Volkswagen would scrimp on equipping this car to the hilt. There is also a huge amount of storage space, certainly more so than nearly any car out there. Maybe it’s something about van drivers just generally carrying more Stuff, but it’s more than you’ll ever need. A word of caution if you’re thinking of a long road trip though – with all 7 seats up, there is not much luggage space to speak off in the boot for the standard Caddy (the Maxi should ease this restriction considerably and also add more rear legroom).

This is actually not the first Caddy we have driven. The last one was a true commercial vehicle though, and while we liked its drivetrain we were not so sure about its rear leaf spring suspension in terms of comfort. Now this fact will be even more important now that the car is used as a passenger car. Does it do a better job this time round?

It is clear to see that Volkswagen has definitely worked hard to bring up the refinement of its latest Caddy. Bumps are now soaked a lot more in a car-like way, and there is less of the “rebound” sensation that comes in waves right after passing unevenness on the road. It is still there though, and you will definitely notice the commercial roots of the car whenever you see the car through a corner. But at least it has improved.

The noise levels are now pleasingly low, especially with the 1.4-litre engine taken straight off a Golf. It’s quiet, efficient and punchy enough for the Caddy, feeling like it does better than the on-paper stat of 11.3 seconds for the 0-100 km/h sprint suggests. Still, we would prefer a diesel engine for this type of car, though.

As a whole, while we love the idea of a practical, bargain basement van that can function as a 7-seater MPV as well, there is a caveat here. The Caddy Maxi isn’t the bargain basement, because with 7 seats you have to pay passenger car COE. So the price adds up to $125,900 (as at publication) – you do not enjoy the current amazingly low COE figures for commercial vehicles, even though in reality you would be driving one! It is more sensibly compared to the next 7-seater in the Volkswagen range, the Touran. If you ask us, if you could shell out that bit more for a Touran (a $11,500 gulf between the standard Caddy and base Touran; even less at $6,500 if you opt for a Caddy Maxi), it is a much better car with a passenger-focused overall concept that is fit for purpose. It shows, from the refinement, interior design, drivability and handling.

However, if you must, the Caddy isn’t a bad way for 7 to travel, too. It certainly is the best passenger van in the market though, if this is the segment you are in.

 

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Text and photos by The Lenspeed Team

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My back really hurt when I got back to Singapore.

Not because of the Passat Variant I had over the weekend drive into Malaysia, not at all. It was because I jumped into my old Honda, and suddenly its suspension felt creaky, stiff as a plank and inexplicably harsh. What could have caused this?

I initially suspected heavy loads could have taken their toll on it, but as time wore on it slowly dawned on me that because I was so pampered by the VW, my own car just didn’t match up any more. It felt broken next to the utterly excellent, supremely comfortable Passat.

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I actually never planned to take the car up north. But at the spur of the moment, and in the spirit of testing the car properly in varied environments rather than the humdrum of urban Singapore, I decided to do it. It’s been a while since the family has been back in Malacca, and it’s durian season (sorry for the aftermath, VW).

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What can I say? Predictably, the Passat shines on the North South highway. It rides beautifully, even on its large rims, the engine is flexible and more than capable at a high-speed cruise, and second row legroom is just awesome. There was nary a complaint at all from all passengers. What’s appreciably special about the Passat is how good it is in town as well, when we entered Malacca. With the dependable 6-speed gearbox, it shifts efficiently and manages to retain most of its fuel sipping nature in the urban landscape too. The engine pairs well with the smooth gearbox, and this is the combination we’d always pick over the 1.8 engine with the 7-speed gearbox.

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It’s worth mentioning about the chassis. Yes, we have already spoken praises about MQB. Honestly, the one in the Passat is so good and continues to astound. It trumps almost anything in its segment with its rigidity and integrity. It feels like a one-piece item hewn from solid metal, yet it is so light and makes the Passat feel very agile. On rough roads to the durian plantation the chassis is totally unfazed at all with the bumps and dips, neither flexing nor complaining with creaks.

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The interior is also wonderful, high quality and an exercise in German restraint. It wouldn’t look out of place with an Audi badge. Being a wagon, the Variant also helped us to load all the massive amount of shopping that the women did. It must be said though, that while the electronic instrument cluster is novel, it seems a bit overly complicated at the end of it. I found it useful for navigation purposes, but I am in the camp that prefers a head-up display to this.

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If there was anything to improve on (and we are struggling here), it’s that the car lacks a bit of soul. It’s perfectly executed, but a little playfulness would be nice. Then again, the looks of the car are already a huge step up from before, and it is genuinely handsome and classy now. Who are we to complain?

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It was the perfect road trip companion, and we now feel a little worse for wear in our own car. That is full praise for the VW and how it completed the trip so effortlessly that everyone in it got used to its high standards. This could be the most complete wagon in its segment today… Volkswagen does a winner again.

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Text and photos by The Lenspeed Team

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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).

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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.

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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

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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

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Lenspeed received an unusual assignment when Volkswagen called up one day to offer us the Caddy Maxi for a test drive. As it turns out, it was a wise decision on their part – we’ve been in the market for commercial vehicles before, firstly for their immense practicality and then more reasonable price (vans have a different COE). More recently, we were again on the prowl for a dependable van, this time for a family business. However, we had a slightly different buying decision compared to the typical corporation – we either wanted a diesel car or a van, so it wasn’t a choice between different vans. Why so?

The changing diesel vehicle landscape in Singapore was one of the reasons. Lowering of diesel tax surcharges on oil-burning cars meant that they make a lot more sense than they did before. That brought an influx of diesel cars into the market, albeit on a slew.

With this greater choice, one would not immediately go for a van when the car can offer the same fuel economy, but with greater freedom and features. Take the 70km/h limit on vans which do not apply on cars, for example, which turned out to be a very annoying thing in the Caddy (not through any fault of the van itself).

The other reason is the vehicle in consideration will be used more than just transporting goods. We need a do-it-all – to bring the dog to the vet, to bring the grandma for dinner and to buy groceries from the market. So a diesel car would immediately come to mind, although Volkswagen says the Caddy Maxi would be available with rear seats too, in due time. And, with all of those stickers of bicycles and sofas on the Maxi, one would be led to think it has a lifestyle purpose too. So it would be right up our alley when picking a vehicle.

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You may have noticed this isn’t just a normal Caddy, with the ‘Maxi’ name tagged to it. With its staggering wheelbase, the Maxi is an enlarged Caddy specifically designed for tradesmen and deliveries. That explains its cavernous rear space, which feels unnervingly hollow when one first slams the door shut in the Caddy – it feels like one has just stepped in a huge room! After familiarising with the strange but not unwelcome sensation however, it doesn’t really bother as the Caddy is sufficiently quiet at speed.

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It is very car-like too – at least from the front seats. The instrumentation gauges and major touch points are standard Volkswagen high quality fare, although you will get a steering wheel that is plastic instead of leather-wrapped (admittedly, it feels more hardy that way). The dashboard layout reminds of the Touran, although there are thoughtful storage areas everywhere in the Caddy that you wonder why they don’t have in the passenger cars.

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Perhaps the most car-like association of all is the DSG gearbox. Seen in nearly every Volkswagen model, it works brilliantly in the Caddy, perhaps almost too well. It is so efficient and so quick, you get to 70km/h in no time and the built-in alarm starts beeping! The engine, however, is noticeably rougher than in the Touran TDI we tried previously.

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The handling too, is a tad too van-like for our comfort. The rear suspension feels like a fixed beam, lacking a sense of fullness to the damping, although the front suspension seems to work a lot more familiarly. Perhaps putting a heavier load in the storage space may help to explain away some of the ride irregularity.

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There are many thoughtful features in the Caddy that endeared it to us. From the rubber floors of the front row, to the double sliding doors, to the indented soft floors of the storage area, to the little hooks there and here to secure your loose items, it’s clear that the Caddy was built with utility in mind. Attention has been paid to its primary purpose.

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Volkswagen will also offer a 5-year / 200,000km on any of its commercial vehicles, which should put your mind at ease if you’re calculating costs for your business. Servicing is done only every 20,000km, which is substantially less frequent than a normal car (half that of a typical Japanese car).

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So would we buy one over a diesel car? We’ll have to see that version with seats at the back to be sure, but judging from its price, servicing proposition and extended warranty, it has a strong case for itself indeed, especially if one prizes value and utility over creature comforts. Just remember to tune your driving style to suit the speed limit, or just don’t get on long highway journeys…

 

 

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By Team Lenspeed

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

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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

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

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“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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