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 Finally, in 2002 and by then very outdated, it vanished from the pricelists.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.

An iceberg in Ilulissat, Greenland; researchers have been studying the phenomena of the melting glaciers and their long-term ramifications for the rest of the world (Getty)
Arts and Entertainment
Hugh Jackman bears his claws and loses the plot in X-Men movie 'The Wolverine'
Arts and Entertainment
'Knowledge is power': Angelina Jolie has written about her preventive surgery
Zayn has become the first member to leave One Direction. 'I have to do what feels right in my heart,' he said
peopleWe wince at anguish of fans, but his 1D departure shows the perils of fame in the social media age
  • Get to the point
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: Junior Web Designer - Client Liaison

    £6 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join a gro...

    Recruitment Genius: Service Delivery Manager

    Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Service Delivery Manager is required to join...

    Recruitment Genius: Massage Therapist / Sports Therapist

    £12000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A opportunity has arisen for a ...

    Ashdown Group: Practice Accountant - Bournemouth - £38,000

    £32000 - £38000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful accountancy practice in...

    Day In a Page

    Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

    Promises, promises

    But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
    The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

    The death of a Gaza fisherman

    He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
    Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

    Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

    Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
    Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

    The only direction Zayn could go

    We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
    Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

    Spells like teen spirit

    A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
    Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

    If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

    British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
    Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

    Licence to offend in the land of the free

    Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
    From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

    From farm to fork in Cornwall

    One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
    Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

    Robert Parker interview

    The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
    Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

    Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

    We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor
    How to make your own Easter egg: Willie Harcourt-Cooze shares his chocolate recipes

    How to make your own Easter egg

    Willie Harcourt-Cooze talks about his love affair with 'cacao' - and creates an Easter egg especially for The Independent on Sunday
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef declares barbecue season open with his twist on a tradtional Easter Sunday lamb lunch

    Bill Granger's twist on Easter Sunday lunch

    Next weekend, our chef plans to return to his Aussie roots by firing up the barbecue
    Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

    Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

    The England prop relives the highs and lows of last Saturday's remarkable afternoon of Six Nations rugby
    Cricket World Cup 2015: Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?

    Cricket World Cup 2015

    Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?
    The Last Word: Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing