Singapore - Coming from owning an array of Japanese cars like the AWD 2005 Subaru Impreza WRX and a mid-engined RWD 2007 Toyota MR-S, this editor has gone full-circle so to speak. The two previous cars featured manual transmissions and catered to a niche audience. The WRX had a rallying heritage and represented the best bang for buck performance in a body suited for everyday practicality while the MR-S was a precision driving instrument, low on power and everyday usability but high on finesse.
So when it came to bidding the two-seater convertible goodbye, I was stumped. What could possibly fill that hole (if there was any) which my previous two vehicles provided. There were a few conditions though, it needed to have a rear bench (due to friends and family member’s incessant nagging that the MR-S was extremely selfish), be reasonably quick and most importantly look the part of a motoring journalist’s ride.
That said, I pondered over and test-drove all manner of cars, from excessively modified track weapons to bread and butter transportation before finally settling for today’s feature car, a FWD Mk5 Volkswagen Golf GT. Now I know what you might be wondering, why not get the GTI? That’s what most of my friends asked - where’s the ‘i’ most of them would ask.
Well, responsibilities at my age far outweigh my whims or fancy, and a 1.4-litre powerplant’s taxation is significantly lower than that of the EA888. Now at that price-point I could have settled for the similarly powered Scirocco that looks way sexier than the unassuming Golf but one one slight difference. The ‘Roc comes with the 7-speed DSG dry clutch and anyone with Veedub experience would tell you why you should stay clear, on the other hand, the Mk5 Golf GT is the only 1.4 variant that packs a 6-speed wet clutch, the same bullet-proof transmission you get in the GTI from the Mk5 through to the Mk7. A rarity it is, highly sought after? Definitely.
This would also marked my first foray into automatic gearboxes, which I must admit, after test-driving countless Volkswagens, the DSG has utterly spoiled me when it comes to lightning fast shifts. Anyway back to my story, the hunt for a pristine Golf led me to the far corners of our sunny island and with a little bit of luck I tracked one down that was previously maintained by our good friends at MTR.
Without much hesitation I traded in my expiring MR-S (I later learnt that the car has got a new lease of life thanks to a new owner renewing its Certificate of Entitlement) and brought the Golf home. Now one of the highlights of the Mk5 Golf was its handling, the GT not only shares the same gearbox as the GTI it also rides on the same dampers as well - you get GTI levels of dynamics out of the box! Of course I was not about to be driving the Golf bone stock for long, the first thing that had to go was the suspension, which after being used for eight years were knocking pretty badly.