Golfing Around - Volkswagen Golfs take a trip up to Malaysia

19 Oct 2018

The wet weather hardly put a dampener on the group of us as we prepared to leave the Volkswagen HQ at Alexandra Road. You see, the excitement is all because a convoy of us will get to squeeze the very best out of three different versions of 1.4 litre Volkswagen Golfs, as we are about to embark on a journey up North to Malaysia. Our cars were the Golf 1.4 Hatch, the Golf 1.4 Variant (Volkswagen language for Estate) and the Golf SV, a compact 5-seater MPV.

Our route takes us up to the state of Trengganu, then back south to Malacca, before returning home; covering more than 1,000km in the process.

Our first Golf was the Variant, a lovely Atlantic Blue estate car, with loads of cargo space at the rear for our luggage and gear. The good handling and automatic wipers made easy work of the rain as we set off towards the second link. At around 7am, traffic is actually smooth from the Singapore side into Malaysia.

In-Time For Bouncy Morning Fishballs

Our breakfast stop along the way as the day warms up is at Yuan Yean Fishball Eating House, about an hour and a half from the second link. Nestled in a rather sleepy area of Yong Peng, the eatery is well known for their bouncy fishball noodles… which were just average in my books… Their array of side dishes however is rather interesting, and perhaps what saved the day.

For those who have a thing for stocking up on snacks, Yoyo Native Food Products is just a 5 minute drive away. The shop carries locally made snacks, from crispy fried fish, preserved fruit and even a selection of locally produced teas. There is also a café, if you need to take a break during your drive.

If you are keen to document your road trip, the car park offers up an ideal place to shoot some photos… And that was what we all did.

Crabbing Over To The East For Some Crab

A car swop later and we find ourselves in the versatile Golf SV for the journey from Yong Peng to Cukai, a 4 hour drive covering some 310km through the middle of the Malaysian Peninsula. Taking the B roads towards the Eastern coast also means the need for a keener eye on traffic, as often driving on a single lane means that plenty of overtaking is needed to keep pace with our timings and to keep the convoy together. That lovely turbocharged 1.4 litre engine does deliver very punchy overtaking ability. Mated to well-spaced dual-clutch gearbox, the Golf is able to make the most of the engine’s power band, without losing boost between gear changes.

Our SV may be the tallest of the three cars, but the MQB architecture which all the Golfs are based on, means a well-thought chassis with exceptional rigidity. And the Golf SV actually does take to corners very well, which pleasantly surprised us.

Its almost two in the afternoon when we entered Cukai, which is at the Southernmost coastal area of Trengganu state for some famous stuffed crab from Tong Juan Restaurant. Many of us agreed that the stuffed crab and fried chicken were great though the prawns could have been fresher… maybe they were fished off the West coast.

Two doors away, to the right of the eatery, there is a local snack shop for you to load up on local goodies, if you have not done so earlier on at Yoyo. I recommend the crispy cod and the fish skin!

A Crescent Shaped Beach And Turtle Freedom

Back on the road, our convoy moves back inland to board up the E8 highway, a newly built stretch of two-lane road, less-travelled on by traffic, allowing our engines to breathe more freely. With almost an hour of easy bends, smooth tarmac and relaxed overtaking when needed, we turned back into some necessary B road driving to reach our final destination for the day.

The Tanjong Jara Resort sits off the main road of Jalan Kuala Trengganu. Nestled in a forested area, the sprawling resort is sited on a crescent shaped beach, and has a lovely lazy feel about it. This is the place we would spend the night after an entire day of driving.

Dinner would be an intimate occasion near the beach, with plenty of time to unwind and relax over a good meal, while we are almost lulled by the soothing soundtrack of the crashing waves nearby. But quite quickly, we learnt that the day would not end just yet.

As the weather was ideal, we learnt from a waiter at the restaurant that the staff from Lang Tengah Turtle Watch (which works with the resort), and operates right beside our restaurant were about to release some baby sea turtles that night.

The red light does not affect the turtles, truly a wonderful experience seeing them crawl to freedom!

The turtles in the region, like others are endangered and the night’s release would originate from two nests, with a total of 97 turtles. I learnt something new, that we had to walk away from the resort and further down the beach, as any form of light pollution would disorient the newly-released turtles, and they might instead make their way towards the light, than into the crashing waves. With their release, one could think what could be lurking in the dark waters up ahead and their odds of survival. But this is a positive step. With a lifespan of about 80 years, these majestic animals have been on our planet for over 100 million years, and have fallen victim to poaching and a reduction in their breeding grounds due to human interference.

Automotive Journalists Can Cook (Maybe)

So we got sprung a surprise by Volkswagen Singapore the next morning. We learnt that we had to work for our lunch. They had arranged for us to cook our own dishes for the afternoon.

So how difficult can this be? The frying pan is like a steering wheel… they both have only one side. Quickly, we found out that Asian cooking is a little more than how western dishes are prepared. The art of “agaration” was something which we had to quickly learn, with the preparing of our two chicken and one fish dishes.

We managed with varying levels of success. When I say we ‘managed’ I actually mean we ‘began’ with varying levels of success, with some of us running away from splattering oil, and one of the guys had been cooking for a good five minutes without a fire (not me).

Over here... one of the peeps from Volkswagen is beginning to get worried about our abilities... or more like a lack-of

Under the guidance of the restaurant’s chef, we began to appreciate and enjoy the cooking process. The smell of the different spicy paste combinations and coconut milk hitting the frying pan were heavenly, and we quickly learnt about how to manage our heat, cooking times and more importantly, learnt about different ingredients and how they affect the taste and smell of our dishes. The chicken rending from my pan was flavour-filled, tender and too little.

Tanjong Raja Resort does open these cooking classes for guests, and you do not need know how to cook to whip up something lovely.

Bringing the Rain to Malacca

Setting off after lunch, our journey covers over 400km South-Southwest from Trenganu state to Malacca, crossing the peninsula through Gambang, travelling along the Lebuhraya Tun Razak B road, and a little challenging due to the very heavy rain and the amount of roadwork going on.

Our car this round was the Golf 1.4 Hatch, which stood up well to the wet roads, puddles, uneven surfaces and whatever else the weather could throw at it. The shorter length also means that its a little more nimble than the rest, which makes for an even easer drive. Little touches like automatic wipers reduce the amount of fiddling you go through without the need for turning them on and messing with the different speed adjustments. Other safety features like blind spot monitors provide us with an extra set of eyes on the side as we navigate our way through traffic.

Entering the state of Malacca in the early hours of the evening, traffic is naturally slow. With the heavy rain, drains were at near full capacity from draining water from the road surface. But by the time we reached our place for the night, The Majestic Malacca, a hotel rich in history, and sited right beside the river; which brought in wealth to this lovely and culturally diverse state; the rain had stopped… Nothing lasts forever even cold October rain.

The front of the hotel began life in the late 1920s as a house built by a wealthy business man, and has been painstakingly restored into the reception area and restaurant, complete with period correct accents, while the actual accommodation is in a high rise building at the rear.

Dinner was at the popular Bai Zhan restaurant. According to our guides, the place has won numerous culinary awards over the years, and we quickly learnt why. Dishes like their suckling pig, and very fresh fish certainly won us over.

There is a Teh Sarabat shop just a few good meters away from the hotel where you can get your fix of Roti Canai (Prata to us). Malacca is tourist friendly, with lots to do if you are willing to explore a little.

Road trips always are a special thing, as you can see and experience more. This is when you can truly experience the joy of driving. The cars we drove here, equipped with their advanced 1.4 litre TSI engines, and quick shifting DSG transmissions are great companions for long journeys, and the comfort that they provide ensures that you are less tired when you have reached your destination.

About the Cars

Volkswagen Golf Highline 1.4 TSI

Engine Cap:        1395 cc Turbocharged
Power:                 123Bhp @ 5000rpm
Max Torque:      200Nm / 1400rpm
Transmission:    7-Speed DSG
0-100 km/h:        9.4secs
Top Speed:         204 km/h
Length:                 4258 mm
Height:                 1492 mm
Width:                  1799 mm
Wheelbase:        2620 mm

Volkswagen Golf SV

Engine Cap:        1395 cc Turbocharged
Power:                 123Bhp @ 5000rpm
Max Torque:      200Nm / 1400rpm
Transmission:    7-Speed DSG
0-100 km/h:        9.9secs
Top Speed:         200 km/h
Length:                 4351 mm
Height:                 1613mm
Width:                  1807 mm
Wheelbase:        2670 mm

Volkswagen Golf Variant 1.4 R-Line

Engine Cap:        1395 cc Turbocharged
Power:                 123Bhp @ 5000rpm
Max Torque:      200Nm / 1400rpm
Transmission:    7-Speed DSG
0-100 km/h:        9.5secs
Top Speed:         205 km/h
Length:                 4267 mm
Height:                 1481 mm
Width:                  1799 mm
Wheelbase:        2620 mm


Photos by Clifford Chow & Eric Chen

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