Volkswagen Golf Cabriolet 2.0 TSI

Nine years after it disappeared from the showrooms, the Golf convertible has returned – and it is an impressive improvement on its Eighties ancestor

Where did all the convertibles go?

Squeezed out by coupé-cabriolets, mainly, because carmakers considered the lure of a hard roof able to fold away in segments to be irresistible compared with the primitive alternative of fabric stretched over a frame. More secure, too, against hood-slashing lowlife.

Whether this last part is a problem for you depends on where you park. Much more of a problem, though, is that suffered by most coupé-cabriolets, especially four-seater ones. All that folding metalwork has to be stashed somewhere when driving al fresco. That means a bulbous, inelegant tail and extra weight.

Audi doesn't believe in coupé-cabriolets, favouring a fabric roof and neat lines. Volkswagen's Golf convertible, too, always used a soft-top right from its early days as a status statement in Thatcher's Britain. Finally, in 2002 and by then very outdated, it vanished from the pricelists. What we all thought was its replacement arrived in 2006, with a new name (Eos) and, yes, a metal coupé-cabriolet roof. Volkswagen's marketing people said it wasn't an open Golf at all, but something quite different. We did not believe them.

Now, as if to say "Told you so," there is a new Golf convertible, or Cabriolet as it is known. The Eos continues, but this new fresh-air Golf has a pert neatness and economy of line the Eos can't begin to match. The waistline rises racily to a tidy, truncated tail, which contains a surprisingly generous boot.

There is proper space for four people in the cabin, and the powered roof takes just 9.5 seconds to turn the Golf from a snug coupé with astonishingly little wind noise to a wind-in-the-hair roadster.

Many people know that a Volkswagen Golf and an Audi A3 are similar cars under their differing skins. Audi makes a neat A3 Cabriolet with a similarly abbreviated tail, so it's tempting to assume that the new open Golf is simply an open A3 in new clothes. The truth is more complex.

Structurally, it has a Golf front end, an Eos centre and an A3 tail section. Various bracing bars and filled-in zones underneath help make this the stiffest-in-structure open car made anywhere in the Volkswagen group, which includes Lamborghinis and Bentleys.

This structural strength makes for a driving experience rather sharper and more sports-car-like than I expected. There is practically none of the shake and shudder over uneven roads from which too many convertibles suffer. The steering has a proper precision and proportionality of response – so the Golf goes exactly where you intend it to go. And it soaks up bumps beautifully. It's an impressive achievement.

The engine options make it lively, too, especially the 210bhp, 2.0-litre, turbocharged TSI unit which tops the range. This is the engine that best stokes the sports car impression, although some buyers might rue the lack of a normal manual transmission. A six-speed, double-clutch automatic with paddleshifters is standard fare.

However, you don't need all that horsepower to enjoy this Golf. Among the other engines available are two of exactly half the 2.0 TSI's power. One is a 1.2-litre, turbocharged petrol unit which is smooth, economical and endowed with enough torque not to struggle when hauling the Golf up hills. The other is a 1.6-litre turbodiesel which hauls harder at low speeds and is the most frugal unit in the whole range with, in BlueMotion extra-economical guise, a 117g/km official CO2 output. Both these engines have five-speed manual gearboxes with precise, easy shifts.

Whichever Golf Cabriolet you drive – the range starts at £21,000 – you'll find it windy at speed without the optional deflector, which fits over the rear seat. Reverse-parking with the roof down requires judgement and some guesswork if the optional parking sensors aren't present, because the folded hood adds height to the already high tail.

It's a lot easier than it was in the original MkI Golf Cabriolet, however, one of which was also on hand to try. This was a nostalgic encounter, with the folded hood stacked high on the rump, the body very wobbly despite a roll-over hoop between the rear body sides, but a wonderful essence of unique Golfness which made it the most covetable compact convertible of its era.

The new one replicates that essence perfectly. This time, however, it's also a proper driving machine. And after driving it, you won't want that coupé-cabriolet any more.

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Senior Solution Architect - Contract

    £500 - £600 per day: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Solution Architect is requir...

    360 Resourcing Solutions: Export Sales Coordinator

    £18k - 20k per year: 360 Resourcing Solutions: ROLE: Export Sales Coordinato...

    Recruitment Genius: B2B Telesales Executive - OTE £35,000+

    £20000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The largest developer of mobile...

    SThree: Talent Acquisition Consultant

    £22500 - £27000 per annum + OTE £45K: SThree: Since our inception in 1986, STh...

    Day In a Page

    How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth: Would people co-operate to face down a global peril?

    How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth

    Would people cooperate to face a global peril?
    Just one day to find €1.6bn: Greece edges nearer euro exit

    One day to find €1.6bn

    Greece is edging inexorably towards an exit from the euro
    New 'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could help surgeons and firefighters, say scientists

    'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could become reality

    Holographic projections would provide extra information on objects in a person's visual field in real time
    Sugary drinks 'are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year'

    Sugary drinks are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year

    The drinks that should be eliminated from people's diets
    Pride of Place: Historians map out untold LGBT histories of locations throughout UK

    Historians map out untold LGBT histories

    Public are being asked to help improve the map
    Lionel, Patti, Burt and The Who rock Glasto

    Lionel, Patti, Burt and The Who rock Glasto

    This was the year of 24-carat Golden Oldies
    Paris Fashion Week

    Paris Fashion Week

    Thom Browne's scarecrows offer a rare beacon in commercial offerings
    A year of the caliphate:

    Isis, a year of the caliphate

    Who can defeat the so-called 'Islamic State' – and how?
    Marks and Spencer: Can a new team of designers put the spark back into the high-street brand?

    Marks and Spencer

    Can a new team of designers put the spark back into the high-street brand?
    'We haven't invaded France': Italy's Prime Minister 'reclaims' Europe's highest peak

    'We haven't invaded France'

    Italy's Prime Minister 'reclaims' Europe's highest peak
    Isis in Kobani: Why we ignore the worst of the massacres

    Why do we ignore the worst of the massacres?

    The West’s determination not to offend its Sunni allies helps Isis and puts us all at risk, says Patrick Cockburn
    7/7 bombings 10 years on: Four emergency workers who saved lives recall the shocking day that 52 people were killed

    Remembering 7/7 ten years on

    Four emergency workers recall their memories of that day – and reveal how it's affected them ever since
    Humans: Are the scientists developing robots in danger of replicating the hit Channel 4 drama?

    They’re here to help

    We want robots to do our drudge work, and to look enough like us for comfort. But are the scientists developing artificial intelligence in danger of replicating the TV drama Humans?
    Time to lay these myths about the Deep South to rest

    Time to lay these myths about the Deep South to rest

    'Heritage' is a loaded word in the Dixie, but the Charleston killings show how dangerous it is to cling to a deadly past, says Rupert Cornwell
    What exactly does 'one' mean? Court of Appeal passes judgement on thorny mathematical issue

    What exactly does 'one' mean?

    Court of Appeal passes judgement on thorny mathematical issue