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 Finally, in 2002 and by then very outdated, it vanished from the pricelists.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

Voices
Hunted: A stag lies dead on Jura, where David Cameron holidays and has himself stalked deer
voicesThe Scotland I know is becoming a playground for the rich
News
Russell Brand has written a book of political analysis called Revolution
peopleFilm star says he is 'not interested in making money anymore'
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch has refused to deny his involvement in the upcoming new Star Wars film
filmBenedict Cumberbatch reignites those Star Wars rumours
News
newsMcKamey Manor says 'there is no escape until the tour is completed'
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Jessica Chastain during an interview in Los Angeles.
filmsOscar hopeful Jessica Chastain reveals the secret to her breakthrough success
News
people

Britain First criticised for using actress's memory to draw attention to their 'hate-filled home page'

News
news
Life and Style
Meow! ... Again, Kim Kardashian goes for a sexy Halloween costume, wrapping her body with a latex catsuit and high heeled knee boots
fashionFrom Heidi Klum to Kim Kardashian
News
news

Emergency call 'started off dumb, but got pretty serious'

Arts and Entertainment
On The Apprentice, “serious” left the room many moons ago and yet still we watch
tv

Greatest mystery about the hit BBC1 show is how it continues to be made at all, writes Grace Dent

News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
JK Rowling is releasing a new Harry Potter story about Dolores Umbridge
booksChristmas comes early for wizard fans
Arts and Entertainment
filmsOculus Rift offers breathtakingly realistic simulation of zero gravity
Sport
footballAccording to revelations from Sergio Aguero's new biography
Life and Style
tech

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

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

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Business Analyst - Surrey - Permanent - Up to £50k DOE

    £40000 - £50000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

    ***ASP.NET Developer - Cheshire - £35k - Permanent***

    £30000 - £35000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

    ***Solutions Architect*** - Brighton - £40k - Permanent

    £35000 - £40000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

    Senior Research Fellow in Gender, Food and Resilient Communities

    £47,334 - £59,058 per annum: Coventry University: The Centre for Agroecology, ...

    Day In a Page

    Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

    Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

    Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
    Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

    Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

    The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
    New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

    New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

    Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
    Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

    Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

    The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
    DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

    Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

    Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
    The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

    Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

    The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
    Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

    Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

    The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
    11 best sonic skincare brushes

    11 best sonic skincare brushes

    Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
    Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

    Paul Scholes column

    I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
    Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

    Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

    While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
    Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

    Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

    Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
    How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

    A crime that reveals London's dark heart

    How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
    Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

    Lost in translation: Western monikers

    Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
    Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

    Handy hacks that make life easier

    New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
    KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

    KidZania: It's a small world

    The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker