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2023 Volkswagen Golf 1.5 Mild Hybrid R-Line Review Singapore

The 2023 Volkswagen Golf R Line is equipped with the same 1.5 eTSI engine and mild hybrid system from the Golf Life & Life Plus variants, sitting within Category A COE in Singapore.The Golf R-Line produces 129 bhp, 200Nm of torque, and will go from 0-100km/h in 9.4 seconds. n R-line trim, the car features R-design front and rear bumpers, R emblems on the front grille and fenders, and R design alloy wheels. Inside, an R-line steering wheel and R sports seats complete the upgrades found on the range topping Volkswagen Golf.

Aesthetic Upgrades

In a bid to bring better value to the consumer amid higher than usual COE prices, the CAT A friendly version of the Volkswagen Golf has received some new kit and aesthetic upgrades in the form of a new R-Line trim. In this specification, the drivetrain has been kept the same, but because we are all visual creatures to some extent, a sort of R-line treatment has been applied to the car, giving it a sportier looking front and rear bumper, sportier wheels, and some R badging to go with the get up.

Not to be confused with a Golf R, which is Volkswagen’s flagship pocket rocket, the Golf R-Line does not share the exact same bumper design as the Golf R. It’s a smart move, as Volkswagen have helped potential buyers avoid the accusation of trying to up-badge their regular Golfs. That said, the front bumper looks ample sporty, and even features an R badge on the front grille. Even though car enthusiasts will easily tell the difference between the R-Line and the R, most people won’t be able to, and the car still looks properly sporty from the front. At the rear, the absence of the Akrapovic exhaust system and the iconic centre R badge between the Volkswagen logo makes differentiating the cars more obvious.

Same Proven Drivetrain

Underneath the bonnet, those who are already familiar with the CAT A friendly versions of the Golf will find an identical drivetrain in the R-Line. A 1.5 litre turbocharged 4 cylinder engine powers the car alongside a mild hybrid system, and drives power to the front wheels via a 7-speed dual clutch transmission. Power is rated at 129 bhp with 200Nm of torque - enabling the R-line to travel from 0-100km/h in 9.4 seconds.

Despite packing just 129 bhp on paper, the R-line’s turbo 4 pot is a rev-happy thing, and quite happily pushes the limit on its 200Nm of accessible torque. For all intents and purposes, the R-Line feels like a CAT B car, and feels quicker than its suggested power rating. The 7 speed dual clutch is also a highly intuitive gearbox, and holds its gears when it detects some form of acceleration, but also quickly upshifts for economy and smoothness when driven under regular conditions. As the transmission always feels like it is in the right gear, the end result is a very intuitive drive that is engaging and fun for the driver. Truth is, the 7-speed gearbox rarely puts a foot wrong in terms of gear selection, and has been one of our favourite transmissions, or at least one of our favourites for some time now.

Fun & Engaging to Drive

In general, Volkswagen Golfs have always been fun cars to drive. There is a willingness in the engine to be pushed hard without protest, the chassis is measured and composed, and the handling is precise and sharp. The current generation is no different, and seems to have grown from strength to strength, building upon the successes of its predecessors. In the Singapore context, most of the performance we require from our cars comes in the low end, due to the amount of city driving that we do. It’s the perfect environment for a Golf, as the engine feels punchier in the low end, and the transmission shifts quickly to avoid holding higher RPMs. This means that the Golf feels very brisk to drive and is actually extremely fuel efficient for a car that is only a mild hybrid.

When pushed, the Golf is a willing participant and will allow you to push the RPMs up without much protest, and the transmission has the versatility to match as well. Under more spirited driving conditions, the transmission is quick to adapt, and downshifts the moment it senses a drop in speed - it’s an uncommon quality that isn’t necessarily even found in more premium vehicles from other automakers. The result is a car that always feels ready and aligned with its driver. By extension, this makes it fun and engaging to drive. Aside from the drive, I also happen to think that the Golf is well built and ergonomically very practical car - a quality that is often under-valued.

Who Will it Appeal to?

While opting for the Life or Life Plus variants will still provide you the same driving experience as the R-Line, the R-Line does round off the persona of a hot hatch quite a lot better and looks effortlessly handsome. For that reason, the R-Line will appeal to drivers who appreciate a car with positive driving dynamics, and desire the looks to match.


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