Review – Volkswagen Golf 1.4 TSI

Last updated: 21st September 2011 – New map update from APR, results are looking good!

Volkswagen Golf 1.4 TSI
(Image source: Motortrader.com.my)

After all the hype about me posting up on the Golf on both my blog as well as on Facebook, Wearnes VW saw my post on their fan page and informed me on Friday (September 2010) that the car was available for a test drive. This is definitely thanks to the power of social media. Immediately I called Wearnes VW and made an appointment with them for a test drive on Saturday the moment the opened. Not that I was super kiasu or anything, it’s just that I had a number of wedding meetings and errands I had to run hence I decided for an early test drive.

Both CW and BK as well as Ash followed me to the dealership for the test drive. Ash had already placed a booking for the Golf earlier but I just wanted to test drive the car first hand to see it. Of course there are plenty of pros and cons when I sat in the car and looked at it. Initially I did say I wanted the car to be red but after seeing the red colour in person, I felt as if it didn’t have the same effect as the Golf MkV had with their tornado red paint jobs.

First Impressions

The unit that was available in the showroom was in Amaryllis Red and I didn’t like it that much. Stepping into the car, the first thing I noticed was the lack of leather seats as well as manually adjustable seats (versus the electric seats you get with the GTI). Of course these luxuries have been taken away in order to bring the price of the car down. The dashboard looks decent as well as the number of knobs and gadgets are a plenty. Build quality was good as BK was trying to figure out how in the world did they make such a good solid feel for the compartments in the car especially on the side hand rest.

Although there were some comments on my Facebook which I totally agree with, was that the 16″ rims and the fabric seats does give it a budget look and feel.

Visual differences compared to the Golf GTI

 

From the outside, there are quite a number of visual differences between the Golf TSI and the Golf GTI. First and foremost would be the front bumper where the GTI’s front bumper is different and it also includes in a front lip as well. The GTI sits lower compared to the Golf TSI. The number of fingers I can fit between the gap of the tyres and the car is around 4 fingers on the TSI versus 3 on the GTI. The GTI has a simple side skirt (although I don’t really think its a full skirt). The rear bumper as well is different as the GTI cater’s for twin exhaust versus the double exhaust ports on the TSI. Another small but important difference is the rear spoiler, the TSI’s one is a little short which seems a little short. Also the GTI’s brake calipers are red in colour.

On the inside, the GTI car is wrapped in leather and the driver’s seat has electronic seat functions. The steering wheel is wrapped in leather and red stitching and it’s a flat bottom steering wheel which gives a better and sportier feel to it. The TSI uses the same one in the Passat CC. Also the GTI does have aluminium sports pedal versus the standard rubber ones on the TSI.

Cabin Space and Boot Space

Let’s face it, the car is small and it has less boot space then what I am used to. Well as a comparison, what I am used to is ferrying 3 friends to the golf course with 4 golf bags in the boot of my Honda Civic. I am definitely not going to be able to fit in 2 let a lone 3 golf bags unless I bring down the rear seats which in turn means I can’t ferry the other people as well. Seating wise, it’s still comfy but the fabric seats that come with the car are a little more on the hard side of things.

I am having slight difficulty fitting in a large-sized golf bag into the boot. In order for it to go in, I had to angle it in such a way that the bag is laid down diagonally. But other than my golf bag,  there hasn’t been much of an issue getting other luggage in. It is rather ironic that the Golf has difficulty fitting a golf bag in its boot.

The Drive

The most important thing to me was the drive, I drive a lot. As in, I travel over 100km a day to and from work alone and this does not count in lunch runs and dinner runs or the occasional trip to the city center for meetings. But most of the driving time is limited to the highways where I feel fuel consumption comes into a very big effect here. The engine was beautiful, pickup was good, way better than what my 1.8 Civic can handle but there have been comments about it being a little bit of lag before the turbo kicks in. I guess I probably would need to have driving experience with a GTI first to have a good comparison.

Power (updated Sep 2011)

Now I have to be very frank, the power output between both the 1.4 TSi and the 2.0 TSi engines are really day and night. I have driven the GTI as well as the Roc 2.0 and the power difference can be easily felt. The amount of torque generated and the pull factor will leave you pressed back against the seat. So this is the true difference between the 1.4 TSi and the 2.0 TSi versions. To some, 160ps is enough for their usual day-to-day drive but I guess the power junkie in me seems to want to have more power!

I recently brought the Golf to GT Auto in Sunway (Sep 2011) again using the same dyno machine as the previous run below. The difference this time is that APR has released a version 2 of their 1.4 twincharger map and I wanted to see what is the difference on a proper dyno machine instead of relying mainly on my butt dyno. So using the same machine and also seeing the previous results (170whp and 267Nm torque), this time I came out with a smile! Latest figures is that I am running on 194whp (wheel horse power) with 307Nm of torque! That’s more torque than a stock Golf GTI and the horse power is quite close to that of a Golf Mk6 GTI. Definitely a happier guy right now! Note that hardware wise, everything remained the same with the exception that I changed my drop-in filter to a K&N drop in filter.

I brought the TSI to GT Auto in Sunway and put it through a couple of runs on their dynometer. On paper the spec rated it at 160ps and that is achieved using Ron98 fuel. So with Ron95, based on other 1.4 TSI cars including the Roc as well, power on wheel was around 150-155whp when running on Ron95 fuel. After remapping the engine to a Stage 1 APR v1 map, I only managed to pull around 170whp on Ron95. I still think that is a little low and even the guys at APR has informed me that the reading was on the lower side. I definitely have to bring the car out for a datalog session to check out the readings and the boost levels.

The infamous DSG Gearbox

Gear change was quite smooth and the paddle shifter were fun to play with but as the shifter are in a fixed position, the weird part comes when you are turning on a winding road and you wanted to change hence you might have some difficulty changing gears quickly using the shifter. You have 3 different gear modes, the standard “D” mode for your every day-to-day driving, the manual mode where you have to change gears manually without the need of a clutch and the “S” mode where you usually red line your rev meter a lot more before it changes gear.

Braking powa!

The brakes were very sensitive as a little tap would send the car to a screeching halt almost immediately. That is quite good considering for a car that has 160hp.

Handling and suspension

Handling on the car wasn’t too bad, although the salesperson didn’t let try to slalom the car along Jalan Maarof so I can’t give a good perspective on that. In my defence, there were plenty of potholes on the road which allowed me to snake my way in between them but I also wanted to try out the suspension comfort whilst going over the potholes. Compared to the Golf GTI and even the Sciroccos, the Golf TSI is a little wobbly especially after taking a high-speed corner. You definitely feel a lot more planted in the GTI and the Roc due to their stiffer setup.

Features

The car comes with plenty of features which include optical parking system(OPS) in front and at the back of your car. Whenever you park your car, you get a display on your head unit, which in my case is the RCD 510. Note that the original head unit you would receive with your cars would be the RCD 310.

Definitely comes in handy especially when you try to reverse into a tight parallel parking space.

Other features also include the ability to plug-in your USB thumb drive into the player as well as your iPhone/iPod via the MDI (media device in) connectors. Note that upon delivery of the car, only the MDI-to-USB cable was provided. I managed to source through eBay to get the MDI-to-iPod cable hence I am now able to plug my iPhone into the system and control it via my steering wheel (control meaning controlling the volume and switching of songs). All of this whilst the car also charges my iPhone at the same time.

Some interesting features which may seem standard for those of you who are used to drive a continental car but seem to be exciting for me because this is my first European car would be the auto rain sensor, auto lights, paddle shifters on the steering wheel, radio and MFD (multi function display) on the steering wheels and much more!

Fuel Consumption

Technical specs states that the car can travel up to 100km on 6 litres but I would be happy if it could go for 700km on a full tank of 55 litres.

At the end of the test drive, we were brought downstairs to the basement to have a look at the various other colour models available, reflex silver, a deep blue colour and another red was available. The test drive car was in white (candy white). Personally I would have chosen the blue but once you have driven on the highway everyday for the past 4 years, you would know that our highways are filled with stone and small pebbles which would eventually chip away at our front bonnet and bumpers. Hence going for a light colour is always preferable.

By the way, I also saw the Polo 1.2 in the basement. It’s not the final one which will be launched as it is a manual version brought in here to pass the Puspakom test. From the outside, it looks exactly like a Golf, only smaller. Not mini-me small but just a little smaller.

Overall I would say it is a fantastic car, European built quality and the power is there. Two thumbs up from me 😛

Some updates on the fuel consumption. I have also included in the Ron of the petrol I used to fill it up with. Personally I swapped over from Ron 97 to Ron 95 mainly because of the fuel hike but I can definitely notice the difference in terms of pickup and power. Overall power is slightly less but with Ron 95, the pickup feels as if it is a little more sluggish.

  • 1st run – 520km (Ron 97)
  • 2nd run – 520km (Ron 97)
  • 3rd run – 500km (Ron 95 mixed with Ron 97)
  • 4th run – 500km (Ron 95)
  • 5th run – 520km (Ron 95)

As of right now, I am sticking to only using Ron 95 petrol as the prices of Ron 97 has increased.

4th Jan 2011 – I have driven almost 4,000km and my average fuel consumption is around 9.7km/L

11th March 2011 – I have driven almost 7,300km and my average fuel consumption is around 10.7km/L. I get about 550km average for a full tank of Ron95 petrol.

21st April 2011 – Trying out the new Petronas Ron95 Extra petrol, still see no difference in terms of mileage. I get the average 550km for a full tank of petrol

4th May 2011 – I just downloaded an app from the iTunes store for my phone. I need to fuel up my car for another 3-4 more times before getting a good set of data. Will post those up pretty soon.

Fuel preferences:

  1. Caltex Ron95
  2. Petronas Ron95 Extra
  3. Esso Ron95
  4. Shell Ron95
  5. BHP Ron 95 – I get the worst fuel economy out of BHP

Car Maintenance:

This is my first hatchback car ever and I have never had a chance of maintaining one. Since the car is still relatively new, the service period hasn’t popped up yet hence there aren’t much information about it here. One of the things that I am rather anal about is how clean the car is and the colour I chose for my car was white. Personally I would have loved it in Tornado Red. Anyhow, no matter what the colour is, the car gets very dirty very easily especially the back. In rainy weather, mud, grime and dirt gets trapped at the lid of the 5th door so you will see that the back portion of the car is always dirty.

I have sent the car in recently to apply Sierra Glow on the body to maintain and sustain its white shine. You can read more about Sierra Glow in my review post here.

Car Services:

As I have recently passed my 7,500km mark, I have decided to send my car in for a simple service. Note that I did not send it in to the official VW service center as all I needed was a simple engine oil change and replace my fuel filter. I sent the car to Exquisite Marques over at Sunway Damansara and the 1st cost was RM380 in total of labour charges.

7,500 km – RM380 @ Exquisite Marques
15,000 km – RM525 @ Wearnes Service Center at Sg. Besi (total service time was about 6 hours)

Car Modifications:

When I first wrote this article, I would probably think that keeping this car stock would be very good already but once the modding bug hits you, it hits your hard, as well as your wallet. Here are some of the modifications you can do which may or may not void your warranty.

  • Change your existing head unit (RCD 310). Alternatives around would be the RCD 510 as well as the RNS 510. Both the RCD and RNS 510 sport a touch screen LCD whilst the latter provides 20Gb of hard disk space and a built-in GPS navigation system.
  • iPod MDI cable so you can control your song list using the steering wheel controls
  • Change your rear lights to the Golf R LED lights. Shops which sell these babies include Ryou’s Modshop (found on Facebook), Exotic Mods in Sunway Damansara, Exquisite Marques in Sunway Damansara and many more.

  • Change your rims, let’s face it. The stock 16″ Atlanta rims just doesn’t quite suite it especially since the advertisement features the Golf with 18″ Atlanta rims. I fell in love with these Caractere rims!
  • Upgrade your ECU with APR’s tuning. Bring your car from 160bhp to 205bhp! Other tuning brands include MTM, ABT, DKTuning, Custom ones available at Exotic Mods as well.
  • Change your pedals to aluminium racing pedals! Love these from OSIR.

  • Add a bodykit, ABT has a showroom in Glenmarie. Get a copy of Hypertune and you can find loads of them available for the Golk Mk6.

  • If you are thinking of increasing the power for your Golf TSI, I would also recommend that you change your brakes! Get the Golf R BBK (big brake kit) or 3rd party market brakes such as Brembo discs and brakes.

  • Door sills scuff plates to protect your sides from scratches especially if you track on a lot of sand and dirt.

  • For those of you who bought the 2010 Golf TSI, the latest mod you can do is get the front DRL Bi-Xenon lights. The 2011 Golf TSI and Golf GTI’s will come with these lights as standards (damn Volkswagen! If only I had known!)

Places where I wash the car

  • Waxsons in Aman Suria – Best place and very good cleaning job. A RM28 nano-wash and interior cleaning job really is worth it here! What I can notice is that even the dust on the air con vents have been cleaned up!
  • Cars International – Expensive and don’t really get many benefits by joining their membership.
  • Susheteki in Tropicana City Mall – Don’t like the staff’s attitude, didn’t really do a good job and must be a member to wash your car during the weekends

Conclusion

It would sound extremely biased especially if I said that this car is a very good car but with so many other choices within the price range, I can safely say that the ride and power on this little white rabbit is really amazing! Of course the next closest thing would be the Peugeot 308 Turbo which also offers similar power ratings (on paper) with the Golf but because it is a CKD model, the interior and ride quality doesn’t come close to the Golf. But then again, you are paying a lot less for the Peugeot 308 Turbo. Overall I am very pleased with the Golf and even though I pump it with Ron 95, there is always power available especially when I want to overtake cars. The feel of the supercharger and the turbo kicking in is awesome. Only problem I have is that thanks to our wonderful Malaysian weather where it rains almost every other day, a Candy White car gets dirty very easily!

Discussion Groups and Forums

Do check out these forums where I participate together with other VW Golf TSI owners. Good source of information and a great place to hang out and learn from one another. A warning, you will get severely poisoned by some of the members there 🙂

Do look out for me there in those threads. I am known as either “Mavik“, “mavicarus” or “rendezvous“.

Other Test Drive Reviews

  • Check out Motortrader’s more comprehensive test drive here.
  • Check out ZerotoHundred’s test drive review here.
  • Darren

    Hey bro, i would like to go for a test drive too!!! drooling….

    • Yeah, go over to VW at either Bangsar, Jalan 222, Ampang or TTDI for a test drive. Make sure you call them first to make an appointment with them 🙂

      Or not, you can head over to the Wearnes VW at Bangsar along Lorong Maarof and speak to Emily there 🙂

      • serena tan

        hi, there's another Volkswagen authorised dealer in Old Klang Road is call Veemer Motor. Call 012-2568 214 for 1.4 golf test drive.

  • Arif

    Golf is a car of the year!

    • Yes it was and the car is totally amazing 🙂 Mine just recently arrived last week so I am enjoying my first week in it.

  • weee:)

    hi, great review! am very interested in getting one. can you please show some pictures of your car and show the modifications you have done? am interested to mod it as well thanks:)

    • So far the modifications that I have done would be:
      1) RCD 510 Head unit
      2) Golf R rear lights
      3) iPod MDI cable addition
      4) Rims changed to 17" Denvers
      5) Door scuff plates/door sills

  • Hyvdavid

    hi, stumble upon your blog when searching for golf 1.4 TSI review. Great review you have here…i went straight for test drive after reading your review 🙂

  • RobinChoong

    Hi bro, I'm interested in getting the same car too. But don't the modifications void the warranty? That'd be a waste, no?

    • Yeah they do void the warranty but it depends on what you mod. For example, the RCD 510, lights and all are mostly OEM VW parts and even now the GTI comes with the RCD 510. I still keep the original parts so I can always swap it out if I need to get a warranty claim.

  • RobinChoong

    Actually, one more thing. Do update about the remap. I'm thinking of doing the same after I get my hands on this remarkable piece. Need your opinion first though. You have great insights.

  • Grinmale

    Hi mark. Love ur review. Will be getting my golf soon. Any idea how much golf r tail lights retail for including installing ? How's your paint protection holding up ?
    Keep blogging !

  • Jnc621

    Sales agent told me only need to do service every 15,000km?

    • It really depends on your preference, some people would just like to follow the schedule which is every 15,000km, some who are more attuned to their own driving styles tend to want to bring it in a little bit more regularly especially those who like to ride their cars pretty hard. Turbo cars tend to suck up more engine oil so do check your engine oil levels regularly. 

  • minfei

    bro for ron95 bhp , not good ?

    • I got a lot of power from BHP but the worse mileage. Sometimes up to 70-80km difference

  • Jay

    Im sure the ECU rechip would void the warranty… but is it reversible without the manufacturer's knowledge? In that case the ECU rechip would be the best mod ever!

  • Jem

    Hi Mark, any side effect after your tuning?

    • Yes, extra power and oomphh 😀

  • Jem

    any problem on the gear box?

    im the unlucky one as i intended to remap the ECU but the gear box spoilt …

  • Kaviarasu Subramania

    Mark..the OSIR footrest only comes with the top part is it? How about the side? 

  • CH

    Hi mark,

    Could you share a bit of the car maintenance fees for this Baby? Feel like getting the golf. But just wonder how is the service cost like… probably you could shed some lights on the most expensive service cost that you got so far (and what has been involved).

    Appreciate your info on this. and GREAT post! I love it. 🙂

    Thanks.

    • The car went in for service twice, first service at 15,000km was billed around RM600+ while the 2nd service at 30,000km was billed at around RM900+

  • Chong

    Hi Mark,

    Just wondering how much did you insure (or did you even insure) your windscreen for the Golf TSI? Was quoted RM4500 from the VW SA which I believe is a rip-off. I guess that's natural since the SA will get a cut from the insured amount as well 🙁

    Are you aware of any other place/workshop (besides VW authorised SC) that may carry genuine VW windscreen for a more affordable price?

    • In the club we have had cases where member's windscreen got cracked and they had to pay around RM4k for a windscreen from VW themselves. Outside is difficult to get original windscreen because the Golf has a number of sensors on the front windscreen such as the rain sensor and the heat element. Hence the reason for the high price of the insurance. 

  • maxref

    Hey bro, I'm interested to change the tail lamp into golf R version and RCD510 as well. Problem is, there's so many maker out there.

    Obviously the most expensive one is made in Germany.

    For the tail lamp, But there r ones from Taiwan (1.6k) and china (1.3k)which is cheaper but I dunno abt their reliability though the shop claims that they r OEM from china n etc.

    As for RCD510 basic, found china oem for $850. Where did u get urs? Thanks for the help man

    • markleo82

      If they are OEM it is fine as long as you are not required to splice or cut any internal wiring. Original OEM parts have connectors and cables so it is really really plug and play units. I got my RCD510 previously from a car in Singapore (he upgraded to RNS510).

  • Really, the USB thumb drive is much helpful to all of us. I have come to note that upon delivery of the car, only the MDI-to-USB cable was provided. Really, it's a good service.

  • Really, the USB thumb drive is much helpful to all of us. I have come to note that upon delivery of the car, only the MDI-to-USB cable was provided. Really, it's a good service.

  • Chipped Power

    Have you tested the 0-100km/h acceleration difference with the APR chip? I’m really considering getting the APR tune…just wondering about what the actual difference is and have you experienced anything negative after the mod (eg more wear n tear or fuel consumption)?

    Thanks!

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