Call me boring, but my favourite type of car is the everyday runabout, preferably in hatchback form. A coupe, such as the BMW 220i, is a lot of fun, but it’s not very practical, with long doors that are tricky to open in tight spaces. A sports utility vehicle belongs in the real jungle and not a concrete one. A multi-purpose vehicle is out of the question, since I do not have any children.
Hence, a five-door hatchback is just right for me. Designed to be roomy and versatile, and engineered to be reliable and efficient, there’s very little that’s wrong with modern hatches, aside from the fact that their driving experience can be rather bland.
But there’s one carmaker that’s adept at creating fun yet functional hatchbacks – Volkswagen, which has made seven generations of the Golf.
Though the signature VW had humble beginnings, it has steadily evolved into a model known for its tidy styling, good refinement and nippy powertrains.
While the Mk 7 Golf is seen as a mass-market machine over in Europe, its reputation in Singapore is that of a near-premium, quintessential German hatchback.
The archetypal Germanic hot hatch is also a Golf, but it’s the much spicier GTI variant. Like its “regular” sibling, the Golf GTI also spans seven generations, but this is where their similarities end. For while the Golf is akin to a white-collar employee in a preppy ensemble consisting of chinos, blue shirt and leather shoes, the GTI is his athletic counterpart in jeans, sneakers and a polo tee (with a popped collar, no less).
The 2-litre GTI’s sporty cues include a red stripe running across the honeycomb-patterned grille, “GTI” badges on the fenders, and 18-inch alloy wheels. The 1.2-litre Golf, on the other hand, has mere 16-inch wheels and a more nondescript design. The GTI’s Oryx White paintwork will catch the eye, while the Golf’s Tungsten Silver hue lets it blend in with traffic.
Even though the Golf 1.2 is the entry-level variant within the local lineup, its classy interior certainly doesn’t reflect this. Leather seats are standard, along with a dashboard that features a “brushed metallic” trim. The hi-fi system has a touchscreen interface and the air-conditioning has dual climate zones, too. The only missing conveniences are a keyless ignition function and additional audio controls on the steering wheel.