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 hp is the most basic Golf available, and comes in below the Golf 1.4 TSI with 122 hp and the Golf Sport TSI producing 140 hp.
Mated to the familiar seven-speed dual clutch DSG direct shift gearbox, the 1.2 TSI is 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. Of course it becomes more enthusiastic when slotted in S but D is perfectly acceptable.
The zero to 100 kmh sprint may be nothing to shout about at 10.2 seconds but what is more relevant in the urban context is the zero to 80 kmh time of 6.8 seconds. In fact, the latter acceleration is just half a second slower than the bigger 122 hp Golf 1.4 TSI's.
So, when moving off from stationary, the Golf feels like it has bigger lungs than just 1,200 cc. With little turbo lag, the 1.2 TSI keeps up with traffic easily. The relatively low kerb weight of 1,230 kg 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, or 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 does display all the relevant data, such as the digital speedometer for example, but it is operated using the tip of an instrument stalk.
There is neither keyless entry and start, nor climate control aircon, 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 upholstery and the most important stuff comes standard, such as the seven airbags, including a driver's knee airbag, ESP electronic stabilisation program, XDS electronic differential lock and an electric parking brake.
Also important is its fuel economy - the Golf 1.2 TSI consumes just 5.0 litres of petrol per 100 km safe under the urban cycle. Together with its safe and predictable handling, it is the competent choice.
Volkswagen Golf 1.2 TSI
Engine 1,197cc turbocharged
Gearbox 7-speed dual clutch transmission
Max power 105 hp @ 4,500-5,500 rpm
Max torque 175 Nm @ 1,400-4,000 rpm
0-100 kmh 10.2 secs
Top speed 192 kmh
CO2 emissions 115 g/km
Average OMV $19,500
Distributor Volkswagen Group Singapore
Tel: 6474 8288