VW Golf Cabriolet – Review
By Liam Bird
I know I’m probably not the first person to ask this, but are you sure we’re not currently going through some sort of 1980’s revival? Think about it: Heavily synthesised music dominates the pop charts. Skinny jeans are simply drain-pipes with a different name. We’ve just had a royal wedding. We’re at war (still) in the Middle East. Millions are unemployed while the super-rich keep raking it in. The Iron Lady has made a re-appearance. And just as you’ve decided to finally bin those old Ultravox cassettes you’ve had languishing in the loft, Volkswagen go and build a new Golf Cabriolet.
Yes, I’m fully aware that VW built a soft-top Golf in the nineties too. But let’s face it, the one we all remember most fondly was the prettiest of them all, the Mark One. And yes, I am aware that one was designed in the Seventies by Guigaro, but in white especially, an original Golf Cabrio is undeniably as eighties as leg-warmers and Kajagoogoo.
To be factually correct, today’s MKVI version is the first fully open Golf in nine years, and it’s also the first ever rag-top Golf not to have befitted a “strawberry basket handle” roll over hoop too. So roof up or down it’s a bit of a looker. Plus, because the roof folds flat in just nine seconds and can be re-erected in just eleven, there’s no need to be caught out by any nasty showers either.
“Feeling of solidity”
Volkswagen’s designers have done a sterling job of retaining all of the styling cues that make a Golf a Golf and yet, somehow, they’ve given this new Cabrio an identity all of its own. A steeper raked windscreen, visibly shorter boot and an altogether lower (hood up) roof-line being the most obvious external changes.
Inside it’s business as usual. Although a little sombre, the Cabrio’s interior remains familiar. Soft touch materials, a nigh on perfect driving position, light and precise steering, a slick shifting gearbox, and beautifully clear dials all add up to make an interior that feels as though it’s come off something far more expensive. Chopping the roof off one of the world’s most popular hatchbacks seems to have made little difference to its all-round feeling of solidity, apart from a little more road noise and some occasional whistling around where the B pillar would usually be found on a tin top Golf, it’s easy to forget you’re in the Cabrio.
“Built for fun”
There are a few concessions to practicality though. In order to accommodate the active roll-over protection system – effectively a roll bar that pops up automatically within 0.25 seconds should anything untoward be detected – the Cabrio is strictly a four seater; there’s no fifth seat belt.
Overall boot space is also significantly reduced. 250 litres might well be class leading, but capacious? I’m not so sure.
Since when, though, did anyone buy a soft-top, even a four-seater one, purely to be practical? Our 1.4 TSi test car may have arrived on winter tyres as if to cement its day to day usability and very nearly returned its claimed combined mpg figures too, but ultimately a soft top of any kind is built for fun. The fact that the new Golf Cabrio achieves all of that and also feels as though it’s been built to last for at least the next thirty years or more simply adds to its appeal.
VW Golf Cabriolet SE 1.4 TSi
Engine: 1390cc. 4 Cyl 16V Twin charged
Transmission: 6 Manual front-wheel-drive
Power: 120 bhp @ 4000rpm
Torque: 148 lbft @ 4000rpm
0-62mph: 10.5 sec
Max Speed: 122mph
Mpg: 44.1 (combined)
Price: from £22,470