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This really is the wrong time of year to be testing convertibles. But cars are launched for the larger European markets, and very little thought is spared for us Africans down here in the South. So alas, the test must go on…
It wasn’t the most pleasant day in Cape Town, nor was I in the most pleasant mood, having been hit with a bout of man-flu. 16 degrees, cold, windy, cloudy with a spot of rain on the side.
Top down, I took the scenic route down south. That lastest about 20 min and I had to pull over and put the top up. I’ve not tested very many convertibles in my life (read: this is my second), so there isn’t a whole lot to compare them to, other than, well non convertibles.
Roof up and down in about 10 seconds, which from my research is pretty standard. You can do it on the fly so if you’re caught in the rain it’s not the end of the world. As long as ‘on the fly’ is below 30km/h. I tested this, and if you go any faster you just look like an idiot with your roof at half mast.
Right above the handbreak, there are two switches. A larger one that opens and closes the roof, and a smaller one the opens and closes all the windows. This is useful, because you can open all the windows quickly on a hot sunny day and get the wind in your hair, or on a colder day like I had you can keep the windows up to reduce the wind in the cabin.
The car is also quite clever, if it’s a bit nippy outside and you drop the roof, the heater turns up a couple of notches blowing wafts of warm air over your otherwise frozen face and torso. There are heated seats too, which keep your bottom nice and warm while your nostrils freeze over. All in all it’s a good package.
I gave it a day or two and took it for another drive, this time a couple of degrees warmer, and some sunshine. a Red Hill Run was in order, and I will admit I was somewhat surprised. I’m always watching those bafoons on Top Gear moan about how convertibles aren’t as ‘sporty’ as the hard tops, and how the chassis, this and the chassis that. Blah blah blah fish cakes.
The Golf Cabriolet doesn’t disappoint, on a mountain pass with a brick on the accelerator it actually handles quite well. Of course the roof down gives you a vastly different experience, and you’re a little more in touch with the real speed you’re doing. There is a hint of understeer. Ok no I lie, if you brake and turn hard in a corner you’re in trouble. But a reasonable speed into a corner delivers good results.
The 118kW version I have on test (you get a 90kW version too), delivers the power quite smoothly. So out of a corner the acceleration is clean and non dramatic. The chassis is quite stiff, because there is no roof they’ve had to compensate with all sorts of stiffness measures. This means you end up with a pretty good ride. There are no wobbly bits in the corners, and there isn’t much body roll either.
But you’re not going to drive it up and down a mountain pass every day are you? You’re more likely to want to drive it on a normal road, to work and the shops and normal places like that. Well the good news is that it’s a pretty normal car for that too. It cruises quite nicely, does well on economy, with the roof up it’s quite quiet in the cabin, a really pleasant driving experience all in all.
Now, the only thing I would caution you about is the look of the car. Some blokes might think it a bit ‘girly’, so just be careful when you pop down to the pub, your mates might give you a hard time! But that’s only because they’re jealous of it’s good looks.
The introduction of the Golf Cabriolet, which was unveiled at the Johannesburg International Motorshow in October 2011, completes the Volkswagen Golf model range in South Africa.
In 2011, Golf was Volkswagen’s third best-selling model behind Polo Vivo and Polo with 7123 units sold.
The Golf Cabriolet is one of the quietest of cabriolets on the market. Its quiet ride is attributable to the sophisticated design of the fabric roof as well as new window and door seals.
Wind noises in the high frequency range above 5000 Hz are perceived to be annoying by most drivers and passengers as they make it difficult hold a conversation while driving (articulation index). Volkswagen has researched the articulation index in-depth and evaluated experiences in other vehicles. The outcome of the evaluation resulted in the Golf Cabriolet setting new standards for acoustics in cabriolets.
Styling of the Golf Cabriolet
Front end: Viewed from the front, the cabriolet looks like other Golf models. The cabriolet however, has a sportier image from this perspective because of its swept-back windscreen. When the Golf Cabriolet is ordered with optional Bi-Xenon headlights, it creates a dynamic image. The Bi-Xenon headlights have an integrated daytime running light formed by 15 LEDs in the dual headlight housing.
Rear: The rear has smoked LED rear lights. The Golf Cabriolet’s rear has been redesigned. The bootlid extends low into the bumper and it swings far upward when opened making it easy to stow suitcases or shopping items. An elegant chrome trim strip forms a visual contrast between the lower edge of the soft top and the bootlid; this continuous chrome stripe extends up to the A-pillars.
Side profile: In side profile, three styling characteristics of the cabriolet are especially appealing to the eye, the more swept-back windscreen, the visually short boot and the soft top integrated in these style lines. When the roof is down, the Golf Cabriolet has an elegant, extended look. With the roof up, the compact and crisp styling lines around the imaginary C-pillars and the boot reflect the unmistakable character of the previous model and transfer it to contemporary times – spanning over an entire decade.
Interior of the Golf Cabriolet
Very clearly – the cabriolet version of the Golf follows the high styling and material quality standards of the five-door Golf 1:1 in its interior. This results in a level of sophistication that is otherwise only offered in significantly more expensive cabriolets. The Golf Cabriolet sets itself apart from other cabriolets in the compact class in one key aspect of its interior. The windscreen frame is refreshingly short, optimising the cabriolet feeling.
In addition, the Golf Cabriolet offers the largest interior length in its class. Passengers in the rear seats benefit from 833 mm of legroom. The top activation switch is integrated in the centre console between the driver and passenger seats. The Golf Cabriolet also has a practical Easy Entry function of the front seats that makes it easier for rear passengers to enter and exit the car.
There are practical bag hooks in the side panels of the 250 litre boot; located right next to the hooks are the remote latch release mechanisms for folding the 50:50 split rear seatback. When the seatback is folded, it increases the stowing capacity.
The top of the Golf Cabriolet
The soft top itself consists of a linkage, a roofliner, insulating filler layer throughout and exterior cover.
Perfection in everyday practicality: The development team designed the joints of the longitudinal seams of the exterior cover fabrics (centre panel and two side panels) so that they serve as an additional drip rail.
Perfection in aerodynamics: Mounted between the longitudinal frames of the top linkage are four roof crossbows and the front roof bow (the first large transverse element behind the windscreen frame). In turn, the soft top is joined to the roof bows by fabric retention strips. Even at higher speeds, the fabric roof does not fill up with air and that has a positive effect on aerodynamics.
When the roof is stowed, the upper surface of the front roof bow covers the top surface of the storage box. This eliminates the need for a separate cover. As a result, the standard fully-automatic electro-hydraulic top opens in just 9.0 seconds and closes in 11.0 seconds. In addition, it does not descend deeply into the larger bootspace (250 litres with roof up or down).
The top is operated from a central switch on the centre console. The roof can open and close while driving at speeds of up to 30 km/h. Two hydraulic pumps activated by a central switch generate the necessary pressure. Even in this area, special care was taken to ensure that the least possible noise is generated as the hydraulic unit is insulated. Unlatching and latching of the Golf Cabriolet’s soft top is handled by an electromechanical locking system that operates automatically. The system senses, via two microswitches, whether the roof is completely opened or closed, and it informs the driver of the ‘OK’ status by an acoustic signal and a visual message (in the multifunction display).
For a good rear view, the roof top’s large heated rear glass window has been especially designed for a cabriolet. It is joined to the soft top by high-frequency welding.
Safety in the Golf Cabriolet
Rollover protection: All Golf Cabriolet generations have had a roll bar since the first model was introduced in 1979. In the early years of the GolfCabriolet automatically deploying rollover protection systems were not on the market. When the first such systems were introduced late in the 1980s, they were hardly suitable for affordable cars such as a Golf Cabriolet. This changed in 2003, when Volkswagen presented the New Beetle Cabrioletwith rollover protection that could be deployed from behind the rear seats.The system was improved in the Eos and now it protects occupants of the new Golf Cabriolet.
For the first time on a Volkswagen cabriolet with deployable rollover protection, it was possible to implement a cargo pass-through with a width of 526 mmand a height of 381 mm, including a folding rear seatback.
Body reinforcements: The Golf Cabriolet offers maximum all-round safety thanks to its rollover protection system, a reinforced windscreen frame and numerous other structural modifications (underbody, sidepanels, crossmembers, doors).
Due to its numerous reinforcements,the 4.25 metre long, 1.78 metre wide and (top up) 1.42 metre tall Golf Cabriolet also exhibits extreme torsional rigidity. Some of these reinforcements are visible when the cabriolet is viewed from below,such as when the Cabrio and a four-door Golf stand side by side on a raised platform. The observer can see significant differences in the underbody of the two models.
In front, the cabriolet has an engine enclosure made of aluminium which together with its mounting brackets increases rigidity. In addition, the engine mount that acts as a vibration damper, adds refinement at the front end.
On each side, two lateral reinforcements in the sill area and two diagonal braces, front and rear, as well as the reinforced rear subframe joint lead to further gains in rigidity and a significant reduction in resonant body vibrations.
What is referred to as the coefficient of static torsional rigidity reaches a value of over 13,500 Newton metres per degree. The first resonant torsional frequency lies above 17.5 Hz – first-class for a cabriolet. And this rigidity, which is also a crucial factor for optimal driving stability and driving comfort, is quite noticeable.
Cabriolet-specific airbags: The protective systems on the Golf Cabriolet are completed by reinforcements in the doors and standard front and side head-thorax airbags. The latter are specially designed for a cabriolet, since it is impossible to mount side-head airbags in the roof area. The head-thorax airbags integrated in the lateral sections of the seatbacks therefore deploy next to the driver andfront passenger over the entire interior height of the Golf Cabriolet.
A standard knee airbag has also been incorporated on the driver’s side. In conjunction with the safety belt, this airbag absorbs energy from the pelvic area and the legs, which leads to reduced occupant loading.
Golf Cabriolet is available with an option of award-winning 1.4 TSI engines, 90kW and 118kW. Both engines are mated to a 6-speed manual transmission.
1.4 TSI with 90 kW: The four cylinder engine develops its maximum torque of 200 Newton metres between 1,500 and 4,000 rpm. It has a top speed of 197 km/h and sprints from 0-100km/h in 10.5 seconds.This engine can be combined with an optional 7-speed DSG transmission.
With a combined fuel consumption of 6.4 l/100 km (149 g/km of CO2) for manual and 6.3l/100km (147g/km of CO2) for DSG, the turbocharged engine makes the Golf cabriolet one of the most fuel-efficient cars in its class.
1.4 TSI with 118 kW: The 118kW engine is boosted by both turbocharging and supercharging. It can also be ordered with an optional 7-speed DSG transmission.
It is as fuel efficient as the smaller 1.4 TSI 90kW engine. The combined fuel consumption with a manual transmission is 6.4 l/100 km (150 g/km of CO2) and with DSG transmission, the consumption is reduced to 6.3 l/100 km (148 g/km of CO2).
The 1.4 TSI 118kW engine develops a maximum torque of 240 Newton metres between 1,500 and 4,500 rpm. It reaches 0-100 km/h in 8.4 seconds and its top speed is 216 km/h.
Standard features of the Golf Cabriolet
The Golf Cabriolet comes standard with a number of convenience and safety (passive and active) features. These include as cruise control, auto-dimming rear view mirror, adjustable steering column, climate control system, multi-function computer, electric door mirrors, RCD 310 radio/CD with MP3 and 8-speakers, height-adjustable comfort seats (in front) in “Scout” upholstery, lights in front foot wells, decorative chrome bezels around the instruments and air vents, rain sensor, easy entry for rear passengers, 3-spoke leather steering wheel with multi-function steering controls,driver and front passenger airbags (driver knee airbag), automatic roll-over protection, ESP including Hill-hold Assist and daytime running lights. In the 118kW derivative, standard interior features include “Vienna” leather seats, high beam “Light Assist” and stainless steel pedals.
Standard exterior features: In front, the Golf Cabriolet is fitted with stylish chrome trim strips on the radiator grille fins. At the rear it features smoked LED rear lights and a sports-style bumper. Running from A-pillar to A-pillar, a chrome band encircles the side windows and the soft top. Also standard are green-tinted thermal insulating glass, front foglights and 16-inch alloy wheels. Park distance control, sport suspension and 17-inch alloy wheels are additional standard features in the 118kW derivative.
Customers that want to individualise their Golf Cabriolets have a number of optional features to choose from.
The available optional features include:
- Bi-Xenon Headlights with LED Daytime running lights
- Removable Towbar
- Park Distance Control (Rear and Front) (standard in 118Kw)
- Parallel Park Assist
- Climatronic 2-zone climate control system
- RCD 510 Radio/CD with MP3, touch screen and 8-speakers
- RNS510 (including DVD drive, 30-GB hard drive, touchscreen)
- Bluetooth cellphone preparation
- “Vienna” Leather Trim interior (standard in 118kW)
- Rearview Camera “Rear Assist”
Golf Cabriolet is offered in nine exterior colours. They are Pure White (base), Dark Purple metallic, Shark Blue metallic,Sunset Red metallic,Reflex Silver metallic, Tungsten Silver metallic, United Grey metallic, Night Blue metallic and pearl effect Deep Black.
Retail Prices (VAT and Emissions Tax included)
1.4 TSI 90kW Manual R283 400
1.4 TSI 90kW DSG R297900
1.4 TSI 118kW Manual R324000
1.4 TSI 118kW DSG R338 500
The Golf Cabriolet comes standard with a 5 year/90 000km Service Plan, 3 year/120 000km warranty and a 12 year anti-corrosion warranty. Service Intervals are at 15 000km.