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Going Topless – Golf Cabriolet 1.6TDI

The first hopeful glimmer of sunshine always sparks a barbecue, sun cream and convertible buying frenzy. With high hopes for good weather we road test the latest addition to the market, VW’s Golf Cabriolet.

Despite the increase in popularity and the obvious advantages of hard topped convertibles, soft top purists have little regard for them. The weight penalty of hard tops plays havoc with fuel economy, emissions and handling and is the reason why Porsche, Mercedes-Benz, Audi and BMW all continue to produce soft-top convertibles.

Test Car
Our test car was powered by Volkswagen’s 1.6-litre diesel engine mated to a five-speed manual. Smart styling is what cabriolets are all about and the steeply angled windscreen of the Golf Cabriolet coupled with styling cues borrowed from Audi’s A3 convertible, gives a sportier look than many of the rivals. It is an elegant and perfectly proportioned four-seat convertible.

On the Road
The Golf is a great car to drive with sharp steering and good handling. As the cabriolet uses the same tried and tested components the ride is just as good and the manual gearbox is slick and smooth. Under the canvas-roofed cabriolet the lack of noise is instantly noticeable; you are beautifully cocooned from the outside without ever feeling cramped. When weather permits, it takes the electro-hydraulic roof just nine seconds to open thanks to an ingenious electro-hydraulic control system. In addition it can be operated at speeds up to 30km, an absolute must in Ireland where blissful sunshine can turn to torrential rain in the blink of an eye.

On the road the ride is firm but compliant and the handling is sharp and positive. The real test of a cabriolet is how well it drives with the roof up and the Golf passes with flying colours.  A feature of many cabriolets is that so much additional weight is added to the body to compensate for the removal of the roof that all this does is dampen performance. Regardless of whether the roof is up or down the Golf cabriolet is good to drive. There is no apparent scuttle-shake despite the absence of a fixed roof and the cabriolet handles as well as the hatchback.

There is a good choice of engines, ranging from a 1.2-litre petrol unit to two diesels a 1.6 or 2.0-litre. Our test car, the 1.6 engine offer low emissions and good fuel economy and returns 4.4 litres per 100 km with CO2 levels of 117g/km. Annual motor tax is €160 and the journey from 0-100 km takes about 12.1 seconds with a top speed of 188km.

The inside is familiar VW and is almost identical to the current Golf range. Everything is well finished with good quality materials throughout but we would have liked a little more luxurious touches given the price difference for the cabriolet. Over all it is roomy and there is great head and leg room for driver and front passengers. In the back things get a little cosy but there is a reasonable amount of space for two adults. Boot capacity is 250 litres but limited space is no surprise to the cabriolet owner.

The Golf Cabriolet is one of the best around and offers a great compromise for top up or down driving. It is elegant, comfortable, economical and offers good value for money. Cabriolets are an indulgence; why else would we shell out €27,000 plus, but thankfully if everything we did was purely rational the world would indeed be a duller place.


 Competitors: Audi A3 Cabriolet; Peugeot 308CC; Mini Cabrio

 Why you’ll buy one? Fun to drive; good handling; excellent noise suppression

 Why you won’t? Limited rear visibility; interior a little drab

 Last word: For soft top purist this is a definite winner


Engine: 1958 cc putting out 77kW @ 4400 rpm and 250Nm @ 1500-2500

Max speed: 188km

0-100km/h: 12.1 seconds

Emissions (motor tax): 117g/km (€160)

Starting price: €27,715

Model price range: €27,715 – €34,700 (test car was priced at €35,289*)

 * optional extras  included Leather “Vienna” Plus Pack, sports suspension, 18” alloy wheels, leather multi-function steering wheel, mobile Bluetooth “entry”, Multi-function display “plus” – €5,889


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