READY, Set, Golf! … and off we went on the “new Golf family media drive” to Johor Baru, organised by Volkswagen Passenger Cars Malaysia Sdn Bhd (VPCM) recently. The drive, involving 20 media representatives, was a follow-up to VPCM’s introduction of the new Golf family – Golf TSI in Sportline and R-Line variants, Golf GTI and the performance hatch Golf R, in March. “Now it’s time to get behind the wheel and test them out for yourselves,” VPCM told us, to discover what the new Golf family has to offer.
The convoy involved the Sportline, R-Line and GTI, whereas the R would be waiting for us in Johor Baru for an “autocross challenge”. Taking the Kajang-Seremban Highway (Lekas), our first destination to showcase each of the three variant’s capabilities was the old Bukit Putus road on the fringes of Seremban. The seven-kilometre stretch, which until 2009 was the main route connecting Seremban and Negri Sembilan’s third-largest district of Kuala Pilah, until a bypass was built to replace it in 2009. It has more than 30 corners, many of them exciting hairpins. Narrow with a ravine on one side and hillside inches away on the other, it has seen countless mishaps since its construction in the 1920s, not to mention traffic congestions during peak hours and holiday seasons. By now, it is mostly deserted, thanks to the bypass.
To good drivers (and riders), the stretch is quite delightful, especially when traffic is very light. We had the same enjoyment, much amplified by the hot hatches we were piloting. On both our mad uphill and downhill dashes, we experienced many of the Golf’s passive and active safety features and systems such as the anti-lock braking system with brake assist and electronic brakeforce distribution, anti-skid regulator, electronic stability control, engine drag torque control, extended differential lock, adaptive chassis control (only in GTI and R) and the differences of all four Golf variants’ driving modes. It sounds like too much nanny-ing by the cars which could dilute the joy of driving but trust me, the Golf isn’t dubbed the “hot hatch” for nothing.
Once the joyride was over, we continued our journey south for lunch in Malacca, before proceeding towards the final destination in Puteri Harbour in Johor. Throughout the drive on the old Bukit Putus road as well as towards Johor, we got to also enjoy the Sportline’s and R-Line’s maximum 148hp at (5,000-6,000rpm) and 250Nm (1,500-3,500rpm) of torque and the GTI’s 227hp (4,700-6,200rpm) and 350Nm (1,500-4,600rpm), plus their many other features.
The next morning, we took part in an autocross challenge held in a “circuit” in a car park near our hotel. We once again tried out the Golfs’ many features like the day before, but now in very-tight, controlled environment with lots of red cones and the drive organiser’s marshals. This time, the very-hot hatch Golf R was involved too – and it is the only Golf variant with the 4Motion all-wheel drive system, not to mention yummy 286hp (5,500-6,500 rpm) maximum power and 380Nm (2,000-5,400rpm) maximum torque.
The autocross challenge was simply timed laps in the Golf R, to find and award the quickest driver. Needless to say, it was fun.