2021 Volkswagen Golf 1.5 eTSI – First Impressions

Our first impressions from a short spin in the new mild hybrid 2021 Volkswagen Golf 1.5 in Singapore

This First Impression is from a short stint behind the wheel of the car in question. It’s less comprehensive than a full test drive/review. To get up to speed on the launch of the Volkswagen Golf Mark 8 in Singapore read our local launch story with pricing, spec details and more

SINGAPORE – A year and a half on from when it was first revealed, we’ve finally had the chance for a short test drive with the Volkswagen Golf Mark 8. What is our first impression? Very good. 

This is the Life Plus trim, which is one step above the base Life model, and one step below the sporty-looking R-Line model. The top dog for now is the Golf GTI – check out Ju-Len’s first impressions of it here. 

A VW Golf should handle well, be enjoyable for novices as well as experienced drivers, it should look modern, display exceptional driving manners both in town and out on the highway. 

Thankfully the Golf hasn’t expanded much and remains a similar size to the Mark 7, but it does look very sporty. The emphasis on horizontal lines and wideness makes the car look bigger than before, even without the racier R-Line/GTI visuals. 

The cabin’s eye-catching with its up-front digitalisation, that 12.3-inch driver’s display is crisp and lag-free. The infotainment screen isn’t the largest, this is the basic 8.25-inch ‘Composition Display’, but the simple menu layout and Android-esque graphics make it easy to use. 

But what ties this together is the ambient lighting which can also sync up with the infotainment screen. 

We drove the Golf for around an hour, and some of that time was devoted to photography, so we didn’t get a representative reflection of its claimed 4.8L/100km fuel efficiency in real life.

But the start-stop is utterly seamless, a huge improvement over the Mark 7’s and the ride quality is fantastic, ranking amongst the best for a small car. The 1.5 also has classic Golf handling: Easy if you’re going slow, and very confident if you’re going fast. 

There’s no longer a VW Jetta, so if you like the idea of a sedan-ified Golf, the same-platformed, just-launched Audi A3 is your closest bet

And the bad stuff? We did notice that some of the hard plastics present on the Mark 7 are still there, such as on the underside of the dash (near the driver’s legs), and around the central arm rests.

Yet none of the similarly-sized cars, both cheaper and more expensive, have the standing of the Golf. Yes, not even the 1 Series or A-Class, which offer more technology, but are nowhere near as cost effective.

Skoda’s Kamiq small SUV isn’t far off from the Golf in price, even in its most expensive Monte Carlo trim, while the Scala hatch offers more space for less cash than the Golf

The Golf ‘starts from S$125,900 with COE’ so we don’t have confirmed pricing on the Life Plus model as yet, we expect it to be around S$130k with COE, which isn’t that far off from the Mark 7, thanks to VES. If you can’t wait for our full test drive review to land (probably by end May), go test the Golf yourself.

about the author

Derryn Wong
CarBuyer's chief editor has a keen interest in all things mechanical, technological, animal and mineral. He's particularly fascinated by eco-cars and cars which make no logical sense. An avid motorcyclist and photographer, he also enjoys cats. Follow him on Instagram @werryndong