Small package packs a punch
Volkswagen Golf 1.2 TSI
Seven-speed dual-clutch transmission
105hp @ 4,500-5,500 rpm
175Nm @ 1,400-4,000 rpm
Volkswagen Group Singapore
THE Volkswagen Golf 1.2 TSI, with a 1.2-litre turbo engine, may be the entry-level Golf, but it has better than entry-level performance.
The Golf 1.2 TSI with 105 horsepower is the most basic Golf available, and comes in below the Golf 1.4 TSI with 122hp and the Golf Sport TSI producing 140hp.
Paired with a seven-speed dual-clutch direct-shift gearbox, the 1.2 TSI has an all-new engine with double overhead camshafts and 16 valves (it replaces the previous model's single overhead cam eight-valve 1.2 TSI unit).
This latest version is a revelation. It is punchy and performs well in the city, even when the gear lever is shifted to D. It becomes more enthusiastic when slotted in S but D is perfectly acceptable.
The zero to 100kmh sprint may be nothing to shout about at 10.2 seconds but what is more relevant in the urban context is the zero to 80kmh time of 6.8 seconds. In fact, the latter acceleration is just half a second slower than the bigger 122hp Golf 1.4 TSI.
So, when moving off from a stationary position, the Golf feels like it has bigger lungs than just 1,200cc. With little turbo lag, the 1.2 TSI keeps up with traffic easily. The relatively low kerb weight of 1,230kg helps too. All new Golfs have lightweight construction, thanks to the Volkswagen Group's MQB modular architecture.
The only time the 1.2 TSI's diminutive engine size is really felt is during kickdown - when the accelerator is floored - say, to perform a sudden overtaking manoeuvre. But its limited elasticity is compensated for by the responsive gearbox. Plus the small Golf handles well, with good balance in fast corners and good stability at expressway speeds.
Riding on 16-inch wheels, it is also comfortable, although the aesthetics of the tyre and rim combination are a slightly different matter.
But as its wheel size indicates, the Golf 1.2 TSI is a rather basic package.
Inside, there is a sporty flat-bottomed steering wheel with stylish piano black spokes but no multi-function controls. The trip computer displays all the relevant data, such as the digital speedometer, but it is operated using the tip of an instrument stalk.
There is neither keyless entry and start, nor climate control air-conditioning, and the centre touchscreen works the audio functions only. The vanity mirror in the sunvisor is also not illuminated. But there is a choice of cool brown and black upholstery and the most important stuff comes standard, such as seven airbags, including a driver's knee airbag, an electronic stabilisation program, an XDS electronic differential lock and an electric parking brake.
Also important is its fuel economy - the Golf 1.2 TSI consumes just five litres of petrol per 100km under the urban cycle. Together with its safe and predictable handling, it is a competent choice.
THE BUSINESS TIMES