Earlier this month, we joined a group of friends from the media for a drive up to Malacca and Terengganu in the newest members of the Golf family – the stylish Golf Highline, the practical Golf Variant, and the family-friendly Golf SV.
The route brought us through a range of varying road and traffic conditions – from the twisty and pothole-riddled B-roads just outside Yong Peng, to the wide and smooth East Coast Expressway leading up from Kuantan, and finally the snarling city traffic in the Malacca city centre.
Our first ride of the day is in Car #5, a ‘Cranberry Red’ Golf SV. The time now is 6:45 a.m., rather early – but necessary to allow us to avoid the morning traffic at the border crossing. We set off from Volkswagen Centre Singapore amidst a torrential downpour and headed directly for Tuas 2nd Link, where we’d regroup at the Petronas petrol station.
As we set off from Petronas for our breakfast stop at Yong Peng, the rain had thankfully eased up, with clear roads ahead of us to let the cars stretch their legs a bit. With an hour-long drive ahead of us and just five hours of sleep the night before, my co-driver climbed into the rear seat of the Golf SV for a quick snooze, but not before complimenting the abundance of space.
We arrive at Yuan Yean Fishball Eating House along the main road of Yong Peng town, a household name in Johor with a 30-year history. We each had a bowl of their famous fishball noodles, accompanied by some Muar otak-otak and Taiping eggs. Taiping eggs – hard-boiled eggs with some fish paste on top, then coated in a light batter and deep-fried – are a unique Yong Peng speciality, with the fish paste and egg yolk creating a delightful blend of textures.
With our tummies filled, we set off for a 310 km drive to our next destination – and more food. This time, it’s a seafood lunch in the coastal town of Chukai, Terengganu. The route first takes us through approximately 150 km of twisty B-roads, where the pliable ride of the Golf SV allows us plenty of comfort while hustling through the corners, with Maroon 5 blasting on the stereo.
In Malaysia, these B-roads are typically narrow country roads that connect smaller villages, with a single lane in each direction and the absence of a road shoulder. Due to their rural location, maintenance usually isn’t carried out regularly resulting in many bumps and potholes where one would least expect. Despite the poor road surface, the suspension of the Golf SV soaked up every last bump for maximum comfort.
As we approach the town of Muadzam Shah, the convoy leader calls for a fuel stop at the Shell station just off the main road. Rather good timing, as our fuel gauge reads a tad over half after nearly 300 km of fairly hard driving – or a respectable 15 kilometres per litre. We take this chance for a car swap, hopping into Car #7, a sweet Golf Variant in ‘Atlantic Blue’ with all the R-Line equipment – this meant sporty body styling, 18-inch wheels, and even paddle shifters to make full use of the DSG gearbox!
The remaining journey to lunch took us through another 80km of B-roads before we merged onto the recently completed East Coast Expressway. Well-paved and largely devoid of traffic on a weekday morning, the road conditions allowed us to up the cruising pace a tad in an attempt to avoid the impending storm which was visible through the large panoramic sunroof.
Threading our way through Chukai toward the coast, we park up next to the Kemaman River, where a group of curious kitties take an immediate liking to the six cars, rubbing up against the cars and sauntering up to us for pats.
Photos snapped and kitties patted, we cross the road to Tong Juan Restaurant and tuck into a hearty seafood lunch. Tong Juan Restaurant’s claim to fame are their stuffed crabs – a mixture of crab meat, vegetables and egg, stuffed in a hollowed-out crab shell and deep fried to perfection. With saltiness from the egg and a hint of sweetness from the crab meat, it paired perfectly with white rice and some chili sauce.
After this feast, we head on toward the final leg of the journey for the day that would take us to our accommodation for the night, and a much needed change of scenery after staring out a windscreen for the better part of 7 hours! The final leg is an easy hour-long highway cruise, made easier by flicking the cruise control button on and letting the car do its own thing at 110 kilometres an hour.
Before we know it, we’re driving through the thick foliage that lines the driveway of Tanjong Jara Resort, a quiet and peaceful seaside resort in the small town of Dungun, Terengganu. As we line the cars up at the hotel lobby, smartly-dressed hotel staff unload our bags and whisk them away to our rooms.
Designed to resemble traditional 17th century Malay palaces, the resort offers various rooms overlooking either a garden or the sea, all with timber interiors for a cosy, relaxing atmosphere. Entering the room, small thoughtful touches are evident – the air conditioning humming along at a comfortable 23 degrees, soft classical music playing from the television, and a therapeutic aromatherapy scent by the bedside. If you’re looking for a luxurious getaway to take a break from the hullaballoo of daily life, we’d recommend a stay at Tanjong Jara Resort.
We get up bright and early for breakfast, hoping to take a slow stroll along the beach after our meal – alas, the weather had other plans, and a thunderstorm blankets the resort. Guess it’s a sign to enjoy the cosy room a bit longer…
Thankfully, the rain stopped before our next activity – a cooking lesson for traditional Malay cuisine such as ayam mas merah, led by senior chef Zukri from Nelayan Restaurant within the resort. With most of the participants having no prior experience in the kitchen, the dishes were simplified with pre-prepared pastes to make cooking a bit less daunting. With some guidance from chef Zukri and his assistants, everyone was able to successfully produce their own tasty traditional dishes!
For families looking to visit Tanjong Jara Resort, this might be a fun activity for your young budding Jamie Olivers and Rachael Rays – allowing them to try their hands at cooking in a safe environment, while at the same time avoiding the inevitable mess that they’re bound to create in your kitchen.
The driving for the day began after lunch, heading north toward Malacca. Over 400km of driving was planned for the day, with two bathroom breaks in between. It was our turn to sample the new Golf Highline today, finished in a smart looking shade of Indium Grey. Equipped with sports suspension and the driving profile selector, we set the car up to our liking in ‘Individual’ mode – configuring the suspension to offer a comfortable ride on the highway, while putting the steering in its sharpest setting to fully exploit the Golf’s handling abilities.
As we pull off the highway for our first break, my co-driver has nothing but compliments for the car. “Really stable at those highway speeds, and so comfortable!“ he quips. I couldn’t help but to agree with him, additionally thinking about how the cavernous boot had swallowed our numerous bags and camera gear.
Onward to 250 km of B-roads, and here’s where the sports suspension of the Golf Highline really shines – tackling the corners even with a bit too much enthusiasm, the dampers performed excellently and there was nary any body roll, allowing us to power through corners as quickly as the tyres allowed.
Malacca finally beckons as the sun begins to set, but not without the legendary traffic congestion that the town is known for. We pull into the driveway of The Majestic 45 minutes behind schedule, and amidst a light drizzle.
Converted from the family home of a local Chinese tycoon, Leong Long Man, the property has nearly 90 years of history. The original Victorian porcelain tiles and stained glass windows were preserved during the numerous refurbishments the property underwent, and we sat in the lobby appreciating the architecture of a bygone era. Inside the room, the first feature you’ll notice is the plush four-poster bed, as well as a free standing clawfoot bathtub in the bathroom. If you’re looking for a well-appointed room with a touch of history, you can’t go wrong with a stay at The Majestic.
All good things come to an end, and our journey with the updated Golf range is no different. With our stomachs filled at the hotel restaurant, we had an early start for our journey back to Singapore.
Today, we’re back in the original car we started our journey in – Golf SV #5 – perfectly sized to fit the mountain of traditional confectionery we had purchased the previous night. Luggages, camera bags and shopping fit in the boot of the Golf SV with plenty of room to spare, leaving the cabin area free for my co-driver to lounge around in.
Just 40 minutes from Singapore, we break for lunch at Tropical Garden Restaurant in Kulai, with everyone sharing their views after having experienced the three new Golf models. The common consensus praised the driving dynamics of the Golf Highline, the spaciousness of the Golf SV, and the all-rounded capabilities of the Golf Variant. Despite them being three different cars to suit different needs, the same 1.4-litre turbocharged TSI engine powering them all performed admirably under the various drivers’ diverse demands.