Golf Cabriolet tested

John Oxley lets his hair down in the new Volkswagen Golf Cabriolet

Convertibles are cool, yes? But unless you can get the roof up very quickly when the weather turns to custard, it’s easy to turn your glamorous blonde passenger into an unhappy camper.

However you needn’t worry about that with the new Volkswagen Golf Cabriolet, for at the first sign of a serious spit on the windscreen you simply slow down and pull into the side of the road, hitting the “close” button between the seats as you reach 30km/h, and nine seconds later you’re snug as a bug in a rug and ready to re-join the traffic.

Volkswagen NZ recently introduced the new Golf cab, and they’ve chosen an interesting model as the sole available vehicle, the 1.4TSI petrol model with a 90kW engine and DSG double clutch transmission.

It’s an interesting choice, and we feel a good one, for it opens up the market for this good-looking and versatile 4-seater to a much wider audience than the more expensive folding hardtop Eos, at $43,000 versus $60,250.

Yes, the Eos has a slightly up-spec interior, and a bigger 2-litre engine, but it also takes 25 seconds to raise or lower the roof. And that’s while the car is standing still – first you have to stop!

The Golf Cabriolet, meanwhile, comes with a well-insulated automated folding soft-top, and has automatic rollover protection that triggers in milliseconds.

 When the top is up, the Golf is very quiet inside, thanks to the roof’s three-layer construction, and it also stays warm, too.

At the same time the soft top, unlike folding hardtop cars, doesn’t reduce boot space when it’s stowed, with a 250 litres of cargo capacity, even with the top down.

In addition, the folding rear bench seat is split, which significantly increases capacity.

In fact we carried an overseas guest in the car, and although her suitcase was far too big for the boot, we found we could happily stow it alongside her, without impinging on her seat space.

While we’re going on about the soft top, one last thing – even when it’s raised it makes the Cabriolet one of the best-looking cars in the VW line-up (eclipsed only by the Scirocco), and a lot better than the awkward-looking Eos. And the lines when it’s open are just so perfect, uncluttered and clean.

The test vehicle was also finished in a superb matt white, easier to photograph thanks to the better contrast and absence of bright highlights, but we suspect harder to keep clean.

Although not as extensively specced as the Eos, there’s not a lot lacking in the Cabriolet.

Features include 17 inch alloy wheels, park assistance, climate controlled aircon, seven airbags, include one to protect the driver’s knees, and Bluetooth connectivity. The latter links to both a cellphone and an audio unit such as an iPod Touch, and throws out 4 x 20 watts through six speakers, with a front-loader CD and Aux input.

There are also electrically-operated windows and mirrors, the latter heated. Claimed overall fuel consumption is 6.3L/100km, and it’s got a 5-star EuroNCAP safety rating.

When it gets to the engine, well don’t look at the capacity, look at the output, with 90kW and 200Nm of torque – the latter from as low as 1,500rpm and right through on a plateau to 4,000rpm.

The car feels quick, and its 0 -100km/h time of 10 seconds certainly isn’t messing around for a car weighted down by the extra strengthening needed to prevent scuttle shake, plus the mechanisms for raising and lowering the rook and popping up the roll-over hoops.
The 7-speed DSG dual clutch gearbox certainly helps in this, although at times, such as when exiting onto a main road from a side road, it seemed uncertain about which gear to choose, hesitating just at a time when you want it to be ultra-positive.

But there’s nothing hesitant about the handling, which is just about as close to neutral as you’re ever going to get in a production front-wheel drive car, nor about ride quality, which is very unGolf-like – compliant and comfortable, not rock-hard like the GTI.

Would I buy one? It’s on the wish list!
Body type 2-door convertible
Drive Front wheels
Engine type  4-cylinder turbo-charged
Engine capacity 1390cc
Max power 90kW/5000rpm
Max torque 200Nm/1500-4000rpm
Fuel consumption 6.3L/100km
C02 emission 147g/km
0 to 100km/h 10 secs
ABS brakes Yes
Air bags 7
Air conditioning Climate
Burglar alarm Yes
Panic Button No
Boot Capacity 250L
Wheel type 17 inch alloy
Spare Tyre Space saver

Estimated running costs
36 Months 60000km
Price    $43,000
WOF     $180
Fuel     $9,990
Registration    $1,293
Servicing to 60k:        $1,650
Total Tyre cost:      $1,150
Residual (30%)    $12,900
Indicative final figure    $44,363

The running cost model is used for illustrative and indicative purposes only. Adrenalin Publishing Limited accepts no responsibility or liability should any costs indicated in the model change from those published. All residual values are based on a calculated 30 percent as a financial instrument and are not the expected or indicative resale values.