Alex Kersten
12 September 2011

What is it?

Back in the Eighties the Golf Cabriolet provided practical, open-top motoring for the masses, in fact during its lifetime 34,189 sun-loving Brits bought one. But in 2002 Wolfsburg chiefs closed not only the roof on the convertible but the door to the production line.

However, after a nine-year hiatus the convertible Golf is back, retaining its soft-top canvas roof and is on sale this month, alongside its Eos coupe-cabriolet sibling. But as VW is quite happy to sell its Scirocco hot hatch alongside its Golf GTI, why should the German firm worry about a similar sales duel between these two similar drop-tops. Certainly the Golf Cabriolet has some significant advantages. Without a complicated hard-top folding mechanism the soft-top is lighter, and as manufacturers face pressure to cut emissions and improve fuel economy, this could be seen as an early move in the right direction for VW and its convertibles.

We’ve already driven the Volkswagen Golf 1.4 TSI GT cabriolet on the smooth roads in France. But how does it cope with the potholed roads of the UK?

What’s it like?

On the move, it’s the roof-up refinement that impresses most. Wind noise is surprisingly hushed thanks to VW’s state-of-the-art roofliners and insulation. Holding a civilised conversation at motorway speeds is never a problem.

Much like the similar-looking Audi A3 Cabrio the roof is easily raised and lowered, and can do so on the move up to 18mph, and the whole operation is over in only nine seconds. But unlike an Audi A3 Cabrio there are no visible rollover hoops by the back seats. This doesn’t mean that there’s no crash protection, instead VW has kept a stylish clean line at the rear of the car by utilising its discreet rollover protection modules, which are stowed out of sight but can be deployed in milliseconds. Subsequently the Golf looks sleeker than its Audi sibling.

Engine wise VW has gone to town with a great range of petrol and diesel powerplants. The four petrols comprise 1.2-litre TSI 104bhp, two 1.4-litre TSIs 158/120bhp and a more high-performance 2.0-litre TSI 207bhp, complemented by two diesels, a 1.6-litre 104bhp and 2.0-litre TDI 138bhp.

VW has worked hard on the Golf’s chassis and wanted to replicate the hatch’s torsional rigidity. Where issues do begin to creep in, however, is if you hit a pothole. Then the GT’s suspension – lower than standard by 15mm – absorbs impacts noisily and uncomfortably. The ride can be at times quite jarring, not helped by standard 18-inch wheels and low-profile 225/40 R18 tyres.

On the plus side, the Golf’s steering is, as always, very good. Sharp cornering inputs ensure a quick and balanced change of direction, thanks to the Golf’s taut chassis, while the nicely weighted steering adds to the driving experience.

The six-speed manual gearbox is slick and precise and works well with the twincharged powertrain, making the most of the car’s mid-range torque. The more expensive seven-speed, dual-clutch automatic version (£26,595 versus £25,295) doesn’t work quite as well, preferring to change up sooner than you’d like it to.

In mixed B-road driving we averaged a respectable 32mpg. Driven more conservatively, however, you’ll get closer to the claimed 44mpg.

As we said in our first review, the interior is well laid out, if a little clinical, and the leather seats are supportive and comfortable.

Should I buy one?

The GT cabrio is well built, fairly rapid and economical to boot. Our only criticism is its combination of sports springs and low-profile tyres

 

Volkswagen Golf Cabriolet 1.4 TSI 160PS

Price: £25,295; Top speed: 134mph; 0-62mph: 8.4sec; Economy: 44mpg; CO2: 150g/km; Kerb weight: 1484kg; Engine: 4 cyls, turbo and supercharged petrol; Power: 158bhp at 5800rpm; Torque: 177lb at 4500rpm; Gearbox: 6-spd manual

Join the debate

Comments
12

Re: Volkswagen Golf 1.4 TSI Cabriolet

3 years 16 weeks ago

My initial thoughts on this car still stand, I think it is miles better than the EOS for a whole host of reasons (weight, styling, simplicity...).

What's better, like the original this car is truly desirable.

It would be great to see more manufacturers follow suit (definitely Peugeot) and drop their CC's in favour of soft tops.

 

 

It's all about the twisties........

Re: Volkswagen Golf 1.4 TSI Cabriolet

3 years 16 weeks ago

Am I the only one who wonders why car magazines never show photos of cabriolets with their hoods UP? After all, it would be good to know how they look 95% of the time...


Re: Volkswagen Golf 1.4 TSI Cabriolet

3 years 16 weeks ago

Looks very good to me . Is this based on the golf Mk 6 and the Eos on an oldre model ?

Have to say I prefer this to the EOS

Re: Volkswagen Golf 1.4 TSI Cabriolet

3 years 16 weeks ago

Sounds decent enough. And the point of the Eos was what again?...

Re: Volkswagen Golf 1.4 TSI Cabriolet

3 years 16 weeks ago

TegTypeR wrote:

My initial thoughts on this car still stand, I think it is miles better than the EOS for a whole host of reasons (weight, styling, simplicity...).

What's better, like the original this car is truly desirable.

It would be great to see more manufacturers follow suit (definitely Peugeot) and drop their CC's in favour of soft tops.

I agree. i think this is a lovely car and would certainly be my choice if I were in the market for a convertible of this size. As far as I'm concerned it immediately makes the Eos obsolete.

According to AE only 3 out of every10 cabriolets sold last year were CCs so it seems the car buying public definitely prefer the fabric roof option.

Re: Volkswagen Golf 1.4 TSI Cabriolet

3 years 16 weeks ago

Autocar wrote:
However, after a nine-year hiatus the convertible Golf is back, retaining its soft-top canvas roof and going on sale in VW dealers in September,

So.. after the summer...?

Nice timing.

When people start buying them (next year), that will surely be the final nail in the coffin for the Eos. I read somewhere that the Eos was due to die anyway, when the next gen' Passat came out as there would be a drop-top version of that.. (to go with the Golf Cab' and inevitable Beetle Cab')

Re: Volkswagen Golf 1.4 TSI Cabriolet

3 years 16 weeks ago

Not really sure of the point of it with the Eos around, they look virtually identical, especially from the front.

However, I imagine with the top up, it looks a bit odd with the stubbly little rear, just like the A3 convertible which I think looks awful.

Re: Volkswagen Golf 1.4 TSI Cabriolet

3 years 16 weeks ago

fhp11 wrote:
Not really sure of the point of it with the Eos around, they look virtually identical, especially from the front.

Like all VWs then....

Re: Volkswagen Golf 1.4 TSI Cabriolet

3 years 16 weeks ago

Johnny English wrote:

Am I the only one who wonders why car magazines never show photos of cabriolets with their hoods UP? After all, it would be good to know how they look 95% of the time...

A good point, but some us really do take the roof off. 525 miles yesterday with around about 350 roof down. Pity that thunderstorms spoilt my fun....

Re: Volkswagen Golf 1.4 TSI Cabriolet

3 years 16 weeks ago

fhp11 wrote:

However, I imagine with the top up, it looks a bit odd with the stubbly little rear....

It will, but for me that is part of the appeal of a Golf convertible, they have always looked like that.

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