First Impression: VW Mk7 Golf TSI

We last wrote about the Golf 7 some days back, at the Malaysian debut of the car. The big question on everyone’s mind at the time was its price – how much would the Golf 7 cost? Most were expecting a slight increment, so when it was finally revealed to us media folks that the price would remain at RM158k, you can imagine some of us were mildly surprised. Price aside, we’ve just gotten back from the drive to Penang, and can share some of the first impressions we’ve gained over the short trip.

So we all know that the previous 1.4-litre twincharged engine has now been replaced by a single turbo mill with similar displacement. Power figures sit at 140PS/250Nm versus 160PS/240Nm in the previous car , with the zerotohundred sprint taking 8.4s; slower by 0.4s than its predecessor. In the modern day where most manufacturers come out with more powerful cars with each new generation, this is certainly a ballsy move by VW. The good news here is that in real world scenarios, the difference in performance is barely discernible; the new car pulls strongly through the entire range, past legal highway speeds easily.

Our route to Penang took us through some kampung roads, and despite us pushing pretty hard over certain stretches, fuel consumption was very impressive – a little more than half tank remaining, after over 400km of travel. KL to Penang then back? Definitely possible. Sporting BlueMotion badgery, VW says the new car has reduced fuel consumption figures, lower CO2 emissions, and improved efficiency. Standard tech includes an engine start/stop system and regenerative braking. We mentioned cylinder deactivation technology (ACT – Active Cylinder Technology) in our previous post; it turns out that Malaysian Golfs will not get this feature.

Looks are subjective, but after spending two days with a fleet of Golf 7s, we have to say that the new car looks marginally better than its predecessor. With the mk6, there were always some part of the car that didn’t blend quite as nicely – the fog lamps, the LEDs in the head lamp, and the tail lamps were all screaming for an upgrade. With the new car however, we can find very little fault. The new design tail lights look good, the fog lamps have been integrated sleekly with the front bumper, and the ‘U’ shaped single strip DRL looks fantastic.

Moving inside, it is clear the Golf 7 carries significant revisions. Build quality together with fit and finish is the usual impressive standard. The faux brushed aluminum finish you get in the Passat has been carried over, together with a sporty flat-bottomed steering wheel. Button layout is ergonomically sound, with one exception – the electronic parking handbrake: its placement is on the panel below the gear selector, further away from driver; we feel it would have been more intuitive if it was closer to the driver. On the subject of the car’s E-brake system, some will like it and some will not., but it does give the car a classy, more premium feel. The infotainment system comes in the form of a 5.8 inch “Composition Media” colour touch screen unit. It is a hassle free, easy to use system that comes with a slew of connectivity choices – AUX, USB, SD card, and Bluetooth.

We sneaked the car out in the middle of the night, and headed for the twisty roads that led to Batu Feringghi. Here, the car’s well sorted chassis really shone through. VW says the new car is up to 100kg lighter and it certainly feels that way when you chuck it through corners. Its comfortable too, soaking up lumps that Penang roads threw at me, without getting flustered. Clearly, the car could do with much more power and the GTI variant, when it arrives, promises to be brilliant. We know that the mk6 had issues with the 7-speed DSG and although the Golf 7 uses the same DQ200 gearbox, VW says that they have worked on improvements in an effort to eliminate the problem. My initial impression is that the gearchanges are noticeably smoother and there’s definitely little to no juddering, but I guess only time will tell when it comes to reliability.

Overall, we’ve only got positive things to say (so far) about the Golf 7; it maintains all the hallmarks of the Golf DNA, and is priced the same (RM157,888 OTR w/out insurance) as the mk6. In our opinion, you’re getting more for the same money. No wonder then, that it managed to blag the award for European Car of the Year 2013, with an impressive margin over its competition. Some weeks later, we will have a more in-depth review of the Golf 7; in the meantime, the cars will be available for viewing and test drives at all Volkswagen dealerships nationwide from this Saturday, 16th March 2013.

From taking pictures of supercars on the streets, Won has taken his hobby to a whole new level, by regularly contributing to '(00). Owner and purveyor...