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"We can be everything in this car." The dynamic couple talk the intensity of parenthood, and how the Golf embodies different things for them and their kids.

16 Dec 2022

At some point - normally earlier on - the same question faces everyone who's embraced parenthood with arms opened wide: Can your time and space truly belong to you as much as they do to your children?

When we ask Aarika Lee and Kevin Lester whether life has changed drastically since the recent arrival of their baby boy, Aarika's first reply is candid but still delivered with a laugh: "I definitely have not slept in a while".

We asked our guests to mimic a shot of their kids in the trunk - and without skipping a beat, they did
In fact, he's tagged along for the shoot today, and is lying awake peacefully just behind the camera in his pram - eyes open with the sort of curious-about-the-world expression permanently etched into his little face. We've just joked earlier on that he's the rightful star of today's shoot - not the couple, nor their silently cool Moonstone Gray Mk8 Golf, brooding right behind. 

"Logistically, it's a change because our oldest is nine, and then we have a seven-year old. And then now it's like, Oscar is three-months old," Kevin explains. "There's a lot of logistics like driving to school or, you know, dropping them off at the in-laws… But we're okay so far - still smiling."

Aarika and Kevin have been driving their Moonstone Gray Mk8 Golf for close to a year now
In many ways, Aarika and Kevin are your typical Singaporean parents. Many who have had young kids themselves will not be unfamiliar with the whirlwind weekly routine of making sure each child is properly attended to.

"You'd be surprised for seven and nine year-olds - I feel like their schedules are busier than ours," Aarika remarks. "They have their own extracurricular activities, they plan their own play dates - and we have to make sure they’re going to all the activities that they want to."

Yet in other ways, the couple's lives don't feel typical in the slightest bit - not with all the double multiple-hatting they do. 

Their family has recently grown again, with the arrival of their three-month old boy
Assembling everything they dabble in within a couple of paragraphs is impossible. But in case you're unfamiliar (and if so, where have you been?), Aarika is a musician and entrepreneur who has helped spearhead multiple social initiatives with her platform. She still represents a variety of brands now while serving as Marketing Director at marketing agency, Elementary Co.

On the other hand, you might know the equally diverse Kevin as established local rapper and producer, THELIONCITYBOY, whose passion for football even led him to a stint as Creative Director at Lion City Sailors FC (although he's recently also entered the tech industry). You're guaranteed to see the couple's faces around constantly, considering the range of clients lining up to work with them.

The multi-hyphenate couple - very comfortable in front of the camera - is constantly engaged with brands that feel true to them
As Aarika shares, their creative work sometimes "doesn't keep us bound to a certain space". And despite the rise of telecommuting over the course of COVID, the couple is still constantly on the move. 

Amidst the flurry of activity encompassing playdates, adrenaline-filled school runs and work-adjacent commutes, meetings even happen on the go now. "It's also very acceptable these days. You're not the only person sitting in the car, you know, having a Zoom meeting," Kevin notes. 

It makes sense, then, that their Golf embodies different things to them depending on which point of the week, or even day that they’re in. 

The Golf proves to be both an exciting and fascinating space for the couple's two older kids
If the kids are on board, they're naturally the king(s) and queen. "It's PG Music blasting in the car", Kevin says with a smirk. "You try to make the environment in the car as comfortable as possible when you're going to school."

The hatch is also an environment in which fascination and excitement are evoked simultaneously. Recently, their older boy realised there was a dimming function on the Golf's rear cabin lights. Now, when his parents are putting his baby brother into the car, he helps make sure that the lights are less glaring.

"They're exploring and they're curious so much that they're just touching stuff all the time", Aarika shares, singling out the Golf's interior ambient lighting strips and expansive infotainment system as the kid's favourite bits. "It's too easy for them to use. They're like 'Mummy, I'm going to switch this up', and then suddenly I'm in Eco Mode, or in Comfort Mode." 

Aarika's love affair with Volkswagen began way back when she was still driving a Beetle Type 1
"Yeah, because everything is touch and drag", Kevin notes. Laughing, he adds, "Sometimes I'm like, 'Can you stop it? I'm driving.'"

Although Kevin is genuinely joking, there is truth to his statement - cars ultimately need to live up to the expectations (and enjoyment) of whoever's at the wheel.

Having to ferry five means that certain models make more sense for them now, but sometime not too long ago - pre-children, naturally - Aarika was the proud owner of a very different, and very special car for the people. 

"My very first car was a Volkswagen Beetle (Type 1) that my mum gifted me, so I was very lucky", she shares.

With its commodious rear seats, the Golf works perfectly as a family car despite its compact size
Recounting fondly, Aarika continues: "We were in a band at that time, so I was driving to gigs - my whole life was in this little car of mine. I really fell in love with the Volkswagen brand from the get-go, since my very first car was [one from the brand]."

At that time, her family also owned a Mk6 Golf GTI, a car she used to half-seriously refer to as "the younger and more powerful version" of her Beetle. She and her siblings (and even Kevin) would come to the conclusion that even if they had all the money in the world, they would not trade the GTI for anything else, "because it's such a great everyday car, but also a great, fun car to drive in." 

A solo drive in the Golf is almost cinematic for Kevin - windows lowered; hip-hop playing
Going back to what their Golf embodies, however, the hatch is unmistakably for them too. When the kids have been dropped off, and five on board become one (or two), the hatch becomes an oasis of calm against the chaos of the everyday. 

When we ask how they individually enjoy the car, Kevin tells us the solo drive is an almost cinematic experience for him, especially during or past sundown. "Sometimes your favourite songs are not what [children] would listen to. There's the 'Explicit Content' [tag] there, you know?", he jokes. 

"Moving around especially on the ECP, seeing the Singapore skyline, it's like a movie moment? I feel like when I drive, and hip-hop is playing, the windows are down a bit sometimes - I won't do that if the kids are in the car."

Having a car that, like them, can wear multiple hats, is something that the couple treasures
Aarika, on the other hand, has recently taken to podcasts, specifically those of the crime and mystery genre. "When your life is very hectic and noisy with kids… I've started to realise on all my drives I actually like listening to stories."

She singles out the Golf's six-speaker sound system as a highlight that enhances the experience. (Kevin later tells us he has to turn the volume down every time he takes the car over from her. "How loud were you listening to this crime podcast?!" "It creates the environment, you know? More suspense right?") 

Although Aarika admits that it is in her heart to drive a Beetle again someday, she also believes what they have now more than meets where she and Kevin are at in life. 

Thanks to the Golf's mild hybrid assisted eTSI engine, the couple manage about 800km on a tank
In Singapore, practicality reigns - the mild hybrid-assisted, 1.5-litre eTSI engine on their Golf is fuel-sipping (a full tank easily clears 800km with their driving styles), while its 380-litre trunk and spacious rear seats serve their family outings more than adequately. 

Still, it goes beyond that. "When we drive on our own, we still get the 'power drive' that we want," Aarika points out. "But there's also the (consideration of) safety when we drive with the family. So I feel like it's a good balance." 

Kevin agrees. "There's also this thing about - you can be a parent with your kid, but when we go on dates, that car also feels right for us." He also reiterates that as "a big movie person", it always comes back to the cinematic opportunities of reliving "that movie moment when you both open the door and you walk out - right?"

"As much as you're parents, you also are a couple... And we can be everything in this car."
"It still must feel like you," Kevin says as he mimics the opening of a car's doors. "I think those little things - when we take our couple photos - I like that the car and the brand represents us also."

Laughing, Aarika adds, "We still get to be who we are - as individuals - separate from being parents. Because sometimes it just all becomes one."

Kevin summarises it perfectly. "As much as you're parents, you also are a couple. Those little things always need to come back together. And we can be everything in this car."

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volkswagen  vw  golf  gti  beetle  mk8  beetle type 1