SINGAPORE (Nov 12): The new Golf 1.4 Highline is the latest variant of the popular hatchback to hit our streets, taking the number of models to four. That’s right, there are four versions of the Golf currently available.

The new Mk 7.5 Golf was launched earlier this year and, now, at the end of the year, we have the Highline. There is no argument that the Golf is a very popular car worldwide, and that is not an accident. It has sold more than 33 million units because this is a car that ticks so many boxes — it is fairly small and very practical, looks pretty good, and is very reliable and cheap to run.

It is incredible that the Golf has been around for more than four decades. In that time, Volkswagen has been developing the Golf design, reinventing it in its details and making it more precise. I was the proud owner of an MkII Golf in the early 1990s, and it is one of my favourite cars of all time. Since then, it has lost its boxy shape and is now considered a hot hatchback, particularly the GTI version. While this model appeals to young male drivers, the Golf in general attracts an upmarket crowd of middle-aged motorists.

The Golf 1.4 Highline is the first hatchback in the VW line-up to offer the Active Info Display (AID) — a fully digitalised instrument cluster with interactive functions.

This new version — the 1.4 Highline — continues to advance the Golf with plenty of updates in both technology and design. Design modifications include new front and rear bumpers, as well as new headlights (halogen and LED), along with LED daytime running lights. New wheel designs and body colours round off the update of the exterior. It is becoming a classic design and is unmistakably still a Golf.

The Highline has a few tricks up its sleeve in terms of digitalisation. This Golf is the first hatchback in the VW line-up to offer the Active Info Display (AID), a fully digitalised instrument cluster with numerous interactive functions. This is all neatly displayed on a sleek-looking, 12.3in colour screen. The satellite navigation data can be displayed in 2D or 3D, depending on your preference.

Under the bonnet is a 1.4li turbocharged engine that has been borrowed from the Mk 7 Golf. VW has developed a new 1.5li engine, but you will not find that in this Highline variant. That is not a problem, as you still get 125bhp of power and 200Nm of torque. This comes smoothly and reliably, and is particularly useful in the urban landscape of Singapore’s CBD, where you need to be constantly slowing down and speeding up. The city is where the Golf is at its best — compact, nimble and great handling around the urban jungle.

But none of this came as a surprise to me. I knew this before I even sat in the car, as the Golf is so predictable. Predictably pleasing, that is. It always meets your expectations and you always know what you are going to get, even with a new variant. As soon as you hop in the driver’s seat, it feels like your own car. It is familiar, comfortable and ergonomic. For someone who spends a lot of time in and out of different cars, it is very refreshing to feel so acclimatised as soon as you get in.

It is not just the Golf either. There is this quality about VW cars that is sometimes hard to define. They are just so driveable. Not exciting or unpredictable, but reliable and familiar. At the same time, they have a certain class and sophistication about them that you do not get with other cars in this price range. While VW is not considered a luxury brand, the cars do have a refined feel about them.

For the $122,900 price tag, you get plenty of bang for your buck, particularly on the technology front. There are lots of tech-centred safety features, including the Blind Spot Sensor with Rear Traffic Alert and the proactive occupant protection system. With my test-drive version, the infotainment system came with gesture control and a panoramic sunroof. The cabin is pretty spacious and will easily accommodate four adults. Boot space is also generous, making it a contender for best-value family car.

All in all, the Golf 1.4 Highline is probably one of the best-equipped models available in its price range. It is a very likeable car, so easy to drive and great on fuel consumption too. The tough decision is which variant to choose.

Golf 1.4 Highline
$120,400 including COE
Engine: 1,395cc, 16v, turbocharged
Power/torque: 125bhp/200Nm
Fuel consumption: 5.5li/100km
0 to 100 kph: 9.1 seconds
Top speed: 204kph

Justin Harper is a freelance journalist with a passion for all things fast.