Me and My Car: A city-hopping VW Golf GTI
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Meet digital strategist Phil Williams from transport app Iomob, and his Volkswagen Golf GTI
What are you driving?
My VW Golf is a 2005 MkV GTI, 2.0 turbo, leather interior and all mod cons. Bright red like a giant Jaffa. I bought it in 2007, with just 12,000 on the clock. A knowledgeable friend helped me import it direct from Japan. The yen was at a weak moment and I got it for a steal. Even with maintenance down the years, it owes me nothing.
Why a Golf GTI?
To a designer, the Golf GTI is a work of art. Exterior styling is the start, and the MkV was (and still is) a banner moment for VW’s design team. But it’s inside where the magic happens. There’s nothing less than you need and nothing more. Little elements like the footrest for your right foot (when in cruise), the positionable middle arm rest and the branded bottle opener in the middle console surprise and delight me to this day.
Is it your daily drive?
Yes. Being a five-door hatchback with great interior volume, it’s such a versatile tool that a single person (or small family) can easily get by on this alone.
The feature you like most?
Cliche, I know, but I love the six-speed DSG gearbox. Zippy on the pickup, incredible long-run economy, power in all crucial gears. Mine has the tiptronic shift on the stick, which I find so much more authentic than paddle shifters on the wheel. No doubt from a childhood driving my dad’s manual stationwagons.
How does it suit your lifestyle?
I’m a city guy and I love the energy of Auckland . . . the GTI looks sharp and drives great from Piha to Ponsonby. But like most Kiwi city dwellers, I also like to escape.
And when you hit any of NZ’s great winding hill roads, the GTI’s low, powerful stance handles every curve. I feel alive in it.
If you had to describe this car as a famous person?
Thom Yorke from Radiohead. Not new but not old. Clever and stylish, but not exclusive. Everyone’s favourite band ... accessible but universally acclaimed.
What do you keep in your Golf?
My DJI Mavic camera drone. New Zealand’s landscapes are divine. and you never know when you’re going to drive around a bend and see the light striking the hills, just so. I’ll pull over, put the drone up in the air, and shoot some film.
Favourite road trip?
I once did a largely uninterrupted stretch from Queenstown to Cape Reinga. That’s a strong contender.
Anything else in your garage?
Yes, a Cowboy e-bike. I brought it back from Belgium. Jawdropping design, slices and dices rush-hour commutes like a samurai sword. E-bikes are a secret hack to life in central Auckland.
You’re planning to buy a Tesla Model 3?
Yes, I was in the first wave to put my deposit down for a Tesla 3. But I’ve put a pause on the purchase. It’s going to be a big year for electrics in 2020. The VW ID3 will be a contender, and the Polestar 2 range from Volvo looks rather tidy too. One thing is for sure, my next drive will be electric.
How you describe your driving style?
Around town . . . calm and sensible. Open road . . . fast and precise. I like to feel the corners.
You embrace EVs, what about driverless vehicles?
I’m not a fan of driverless. As a technologist, I recognise that it’s going to happen, and there will be benefits. But personally, I love driving. The instinctual decisions on how to take a corner, the feeling of flow. The weightlessness as you crest a hill, and swoop down onto a stretch of open road in the warm evening light. I want to do it myself.
Top driving song?
Talk Talk’s Life’s What You Make It. Expansive and uplifting like a good road trip itself.