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2023 Volkswagen Golf Life Plus Singapore Review - CAT A

The new 2023 Volkswagen Golf is a CAT A COE friendly front wheel drive hatchback which features mild hybrid technology in its 1.5 etsi drive train, providing better fuel consumption than its 1.4 tsi predecessor. The new CAT A COE Volkswagen Golf comes in 2 trim levels, the Life and Life Plus variants, and features more usability and fuel economy for Singapore roads.

CAT A Friendly

The new 2023 Golf Life Plus is now available in a CAT A COE friendly format, allowing consumers the opportunity for greater savings and lower upfront costs. Utilising the same 1.5 etsi drivetrain as before, which has been tuned down to fit within CAT A COE requirements, the Golf Life Plus is the higher of two trim levels available in Singapore. While many will welcome the more cost effective option of a CAT A COE Golf, there will no doubt be some that will wonder if this adjustment will compromise the things that made the Volkswagen a much loved, and frankly legendary vehicle.

While there is definitely a difference in power, the new Golf Life Plus is fortunately still quite peppy to drive. Much of the power has been recalibrated toward helping the car get off the line, and there is a decent amount of power and torque off the line, made better by the car's quick shifting 7 speed dual clutch transmission, which always seems to find a way to be in the right gear, at all times.

The retention of the 4 cylinder 1.5 litre power unit also ensures a certain level of composure up at speed, with a healthy torque band that extends well past 100km/h. In essence, it would seem that the Golf's entry into the CAT A COE market maybe have killed off a little bit of horsepower, but the car still remains a pleasant thing to drive, capable of punching above its weight and saving the end consumer some money.

All Round Performer

One of the things I like about Golfs has always been their drivability and connection to the driver. There is superb calibration in the chassis that allows the driver to feel connected to the car and the road. In a recent road trip we took with Volkswagen Singapore and Skoda Singapore, we got the opportunity to put a bunch of CAT A Volkswagen / Skoda cars (including the Golf), through some windy Malaysian B-roads. Suffice to say, the Golf performed admirably, offering excellent road feel through the curves and bends, almost dancing to the sway of the roads. Although not the anywhere near the most powerful or expensive car we've tested this year, the Golf has to be one of my favourite drives so far this year - offering me plenty of engagement and driving pleasure during my time with it.

Another aspect of the Golf's driving dynamics that I think does not quite get enough credit, is just how good the 7 speed dual clutch transmission is. Lively off the line, the transmission then does an awesome job at reading how aggressive the driver inputs are, before accurately holding its revs for more power, or upshifting quickly for better economy. With either scenario, the Golf did not put a foot wrong, and during my entire time with the car, never once felt like it was in the wrong gear - even minor speed changes while going downhill were picked up extremely quickly by the Golf, downshifting quickly to offer the assurance of engine braking, while ensuring that the car was in the right gear to accelerate off again.

Best in Class

While not the cheapest car in its segment, the CAT A friendly option of the Volkswagen Golf has effectively brought its price down closer to its key competitors, making it more competitive as an option, especially since price seems to be the only factor where other CAT A options seem to have the edge over the Golf. In terms of build quality, driving dynamics, and even fuel economy, I am of the opinion the Golf Life Plus is easily one of the best cars in its class.

Who will it Appeal to?

One of the hallmarks of a Volkswagen Golf over its many years of production has been its straightforward nature. The car is unpretentious, simple to operate, and gets the job done in a rather rewarding way. While there will always be consumers who will gravitate toward their comfort zones of buying utilitarian, point A to B cars, the Golf will definitely appeal to a more contemporary group of consumers who can appreciate the higher levels of build quality, better driving engagement, and overall performance offered by the Golf.


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