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Volkswagen Golf Cabriolet TSI 2011 review

EXPERT RATING
8
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  • Ride quality
  • Seat comfort
  • Quietness
  • Smooth power delivery
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  • Rear seat space
  • Driver's seat height range
  • Complex Bluetooth

The Golf Cabriolet is back after an eight-year absence - Volkswagen's new model onslaught for 2011 is complete. The cloth-topped two-door brings to ten the number of new models introduced by the German car maker, who will finish the year in the top 10 for sales .

VALUE

The new Cabrio mirrors the $29,490 Comfortline hatchback for engine and features but is priced from $36,990 for the six-speed manual, or add $2500 for the DSG twin-clutch automated manual.

Among the features are 17in alloy wheels, a leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio and trip computer controls, cruise control, Bluetooth phone and audio link (which proved difficult to link with some devices) for the six-speaker sound system and dual-zone climate control.

The options list includes satnav (at $3000), leather trim (for $3300), $2100 for bixenon headlights, metallic paint at $500 and an alarm for $600. Parking sensors front and rear, teamed with a camera, can also be added for $1400 once you've ticked the satnav option box.

TECHNOLOGY

Propulsion for the new Cabrio comes from the 1.4-litre twincharged (turbo and supercharged) 118kW/240Nm direct-injection engine, a de-tuned version of the Polo GTI's 132kW 250Nm engine.

The absence of a roof has been offset by diagonal braces at each corner, as well as reinforcing within the side-sills and around the engine bay, which makes it about 150kg heavier than the equivalent Comfortline hatch.

The electric cloth top roof folds back onto itself in 9 seconds (in a manner similar to the Mazda MX-5's manual roof) removing the need for a tonneau. VW says the roof - which contributes 52kg to the weight - can be opened or closed at speeds up to 30km/h.

DESIGN

The "Strawberry Basket" look of the earlier incarnations has gone, with the absence of the rollbar, but it's nose is familiar. The rear is fairly straight and conventional in its look, with the stumpy rear deck and roof as well as the new look taillights. It's a clean but conservative design that won't startle but it's not a major headturner either. Inside is largely carry-over from the hatch - it's a low-key functional design

SAFETY

The five-star rated Golf Cabrio has the full electronic safety system list - anti-lock brakes with brakeforce distribution and emergency assist, stability and traction control. The new Cabrio has lost the rollbar from behind the front occupant's shoulders, but the more steeply-raked windscreen and a pop-up rollover safety system that springs from behind the rear headrestraints takes its place.

There are five airbags - dual front, front-side and a driver's knee bag - as well as an auto-dimming rearvision mirror, automatic wipers and headlights.

DRIVING

There's much to like (apart from the smell of roadkill) about dropping the top on a Golf. It feels as though the structure has enough rigidity not prompt judders over nasty bumps and the suspension offers a decent ride comfort.

Handling from the "sports" suspension is competent without being set to scare the GTI or R models in the VW range through corners - VW says they have no plans for those badges on the droptop, although a higher-output petrol engine and a turbodiesel is under consideration.

The chassis could certainly do with a little more pep - while the 1.4 works hard and delivers in a smooth fashion, the extra weight has blunted the enthusiasm of the spirited little forced-induction four-cylinder. The drivetrain does the job for those more interested in cruising or posing, but if you're in a hurry be prepared to work the gearbox a little more than the norm.

Even when shunting the little ragtop along at brisk country road speeds, the wind buffeting in the cabin failed to ruffle longer-haired occupants when all four windows were raised.

Taller drivers might be looking to go a little lower with the manually height-adjustable driver's seat, as the top edge of the windscreen is little closer than you'd expect, but reach-and-rake adjustable steering makes a decent driving position achievable.

Rear seats will be tweens-and-under, unless the four adults attempting topless transport are well down on height - a short trip in the rear with the roof down could be done without serious discomfort but it's not a long-haul proposition.

The rear seat backs fold down to open up the 250 litre boot - which thankfully does not get reduced further by the droptop - which stores a reasonable amount of luggage. The manual transmission does allow the little 1.4 to be stirred up for brisker progress, but the clutch is on the lifeless side and the take-up point is high.

The gearbox itself is light and has a useable shift action - it's not super-sharp but it's not vague either - but it's likely most Australian buyers will be paying the extra for the DSG.

VERDICT:

Smooth, comfortable and not unattractive, the new Golf Cabrio won't take sales from the hot hatch brigade from within it's own family but it might make someone looking at an Eos - which is $51,990 - an Audi A3 petrol, at $50,500, or the BMW 1-Series ragtops think twice. The appeal of better bootspace with the chance to get the roof down.

Pricing guides

$11,500
Based on 229 cars listed for sale in the last 6 months
Lowest Price
$5,990
Highest Price
$29,990

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
118 TSI 1.4L, PULP, 7 SP AUTO $7,365 – 17,888 2011 Volkswagen Golf 2011 118 TSI Pricing and Specs
103 TDI Comfortline 2.0L, Diesel, 6 SP AUTO $5,990 – 13,990 2011 Volkswagen Golf 2011 103 TDI Comfortline Pricing and Specs
118 TSI Comfortline 1.4L, PULP, 7 SP AUTO $6,800 – 13,990 2011 Volkswagen Golf 2011 118 TSI Comfortline Pricing and Specs
77 TDI Bluemotion 1.6L, Diesel, 5 SP MAN $7,500 – 10,990 2011 Volkswagen Golf 2011 77 TDI Bluemotion Pricing and Specs
EXPERT RATING
8
Stuart Martin
Contributing Journalist

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Pricing Guide

$7,365

Lowest price, based on 14 car listings in the last 6 months

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