Singapore/Malaysia - We don’t normally go on driving trips up to Malaysia other than to cover massive races at Sepang, so when the good people at Volkswagen Group Singapore extended an invitation to 9tro to join them on a driving trip up north while at the same time trying out the entire 1.4-litre Golf range we jumped at it with glee!
We were then given details of the trip, starting from Volkswagen Singapore’s showroom along Alexandra Road, we would hop into designated Golfs and proceed to drive up north to Trengganu, spend a night at Tanjong Jara Beach Resort and then drive down to Malacca’s Majestic Hotel to spend another night there before heading back to home base.
Now the driving trip wasn’t as simple as freeway blasting up the entire stretch of Malaysia’s North-South Highway (NSH). Woven into the mix was a sizeable chunk of B-roads that would really allow us to put the various Golfs to the test. And test them to their absolute limits we did!
Throughout the trip we were rotated around three variants of the Golf, namely the standard Golf hatchback, the Golf Variant and the latest addition to the family, the Golf Sports Van also known as the SV. The three variations were all powered by the same engine, a turbocharged 1.4-litre four-potter mated to VW’s 7-speed DSG transmission. They all produced 123hp with 200Nm of torque with a 0-100 timing of 9.9 seconds for the SV, 9.5 seconds for the Variant and for the standard hatch, 9.1 seconds.
Through highways and B-roads, what impressed us most was just how versatile the Golfs were with respect to their dynamics. Naturally the Golf hatch was the most agile of the three and also our favourite as its smaller body meant it was quick footed, a ball of fun when sent careening into corners at less than legal speeds while still maintaining extremely satisfying levels of comfort, not mention all three models were really fuel efficient considering that we pushed them really hard on every single stretch of empty road we could find.
The Variant would be our next pick as we didn’t really feel that extra weight at the back thanks to the extended boot, acceleration and dynamics wise it is very close to the hatch and you will be hard pressed to tell the two apart from the inside. For aesthetics though, the Variant in its R-Line trim and red paintwork is just sublime!
Now onto the SV, first impressions, it looks like a MPV-esque version of the Golf and with that you might think its Golf’s characteristics might be lost, but nope. Its still a Golf underneath and even with the raised height and higher seating position we were utterly impressed with its finesse while driving through windy roads or going full throttle.
Day one started bright and early at 5.00AM at the Volkswagen Showroom where the invited media would gather, receive a safety briefing and ushered to our cars. From there we headed to the Tuas Checkpoint before entering Malaysia. After a brief stopover at Gelang Patah’s Rest Area we then proceeded to the town of Yong Peng for their famed Fishball Noodle breakfast.
From there on out it was B-road blasting all the way as we went covered several hundred kilometres before arriving at another town called Chukai for lunch. We got to try out the famous stuffed crabs at a local eatery called ‘Tong Juan’. After Chukai we were back onto the B-roads for a final round of high speed lane changes on poorly maintain roads. The Golfs at these stage were just soaking up all the the punishment with relative ease, we were rarely even shaken in the cabin.
By dusk we reached our destination, the Tanjong Jara Beach Resort, Trengganu, a five-star hotel overlooking the eastern Malaysian coast. We were each given a huge villa for the night but not before being indulged in a sumptuous four-course dinner at the resort’s restaurant. After dinner we even got to witness the releasing of baby turtles back into the ocean for a touch of nature! After that we retired for the night.
Day two started at 9.00AM with a cooking class organised by the resort for us automotive journalists to try our hand at whipping up some traditional Malaysian delicacies. Yes, you heard that right, cars and cooking! An unlikely mix, but a good thing the head chef was around to give us pointers and we managed to whip up a pretty mean Chicken Rendang (local curry chicken dish). After the highly enjoyable cooking session we tucked into yet another feast prepared for us before checking out and headed for Malacca.
Going from Trengganu to Malacca was another few hundred kilometres down south and provided yet another interesting mix of highways and B-roads, which we attacked with renewed vigour. The driving was highly addictive to say the least coupled with constant rain making the roads that much trickier, we were impressed with how each Golf variant held up against the elements, roads and even slower moving traffic.
The hours seemed to fly past while we were enjoying ourselves, it wasn’t long till we arrived in Malacca by 6.00PM and checked into a quaint ultra-luxury boutique hotel known as the Majestic. Just as its name suggest, the hotel is definitely majestic with a decidedly Peranakan (Straits-born Chinese) flair. After getting settled down in our rooms it was time for dinner and we were then brought to one of the best establishments in Malacca, the Bei Zhan Restaurant, where yet another culinary adventure awaited us.
With our tummies filled, the team retired for the night as we recharged for Day Three - the return trip! Our return trip was simple enough, we started the day with a hearty breakfast at Majestic before convoying out of Malacca, taking the NSH down to the town of Machap for lunch. From Machap it was just under 80km away from Singapore where we continued with our highway blasting taking the Golfs for some relaxed high speed cruising. We re-entered Singapore around 3.00PM in the afternoon and headed back to Volkswagen Singapore’s Showroom for a debriefing and then it was home sweet home!
Team 9tro would like to thank everyone at Volkswagen Group Singapore as well as the staff from Pit Crew for organising the fun-filled driving holiday that really allowed us to experience the entire Golf range and gain a better understanding of just how practical and versatile the cars really are! We are definitely looking forward to the next one!