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Lid lifted on VW Golf Cabrios

2012-02-24 14:45

WHAT MORE DO YOU WANT? > VW's new convertible has one of the world's highest-tech engines, F1-style gearshifters, leather seats and... oh yes, a folding roof..

Vehicle Specs
Manufacturer Volkswagen
Model Golf Cabriolet Comfortline / Highline
Engine 1.4 TSI 90kW / 118kW
Power 90kW / 118kW
Torque 200Nm 1500-4000rpm / 240Nm 1500-4500rpm
Transmission 6-spd manual / 7-spd auto/manual sequential
Zero To Hundred 10.5sec / 8.4sec
Top Speed 197km/h / 216km/h
Fuel Consumption 6.4 / 6.4 litres/100km
Weight s
Boot Size 250 litre
ABS Yes
Airbags Yes
Tyres 16" 6.5J alloy, 205/55 tyres / 17" 7.5J alloy, 255/45
Service Intervals 15 000km
Service Plan Five years or 90 000km
Warranty Three-years or 120 000km
Price See bottom of text

Author: LES STEPHENSON

 
You can pay more than a million bucks for a sporty top-end convertible - or around R300 000 for a VW Golf Cabriolet. Whichever, you'll be breathing the same air, getting the same suntan... savouring the same healthy country smells.

Four versions of the Golf convertible have just been launched in South Africa – each with a 1.4-litre, four-cylinder engine but tuned to either 90kW (Comfortline) or 116kW (Highline) and with either a six-speed manual or seven-speed DSG auto/manual sequential gearbox.

LOOK CLOSER

And no, don’t sniff at the modest size of the high-tech engines – they’re turbocharged, capable of 200km/h, spin to 100km/h in 10.5 and 8.4sec respectively and if you can handle the extra R14 500 go for the DSG gearbox – technology similar to that that you’ll find on, say, an Audi TT - and it comes with paddle shifters behind the leather-wrapped steering wheel.

At first glance (apart from the missing roof, of course) the cabrio looks just like a normal Golf. A closer inspection says otherwise: VW has succeeded in giving the car a subtly sportier image than the hatch.

The main difference is the more swept-back windscreen, a visual trick many other convertibles play though the real reason is not so much the looks but the aerodynamics, which sweep the airflow over the front passengers’ heads – madame doesn’t like having her bouffant buffeted or sir his top-piece.

Opt for the bi-xenon headlights and you’ll get a different nose that includes diode daytime running lights.

More marked are the changes to the tail: smoked plastic on the tail lights, for a start. Then the boot lid extends low into the bumper and swings well upwards and a chromed strip defines the meeting point with the cloth hood and runs to where the A pillars would be on a normal car.

The car looks good with the black hood erect; even better with it down and the normal luggage space remains at 250 litres up or down – no faffing with luggage covers to prevent the folding roof squashing your Vuittons.

The rear seats fold to increase the luggage volume and the Golf comes with a clip-on diffuser that mounts behind the front seats and rear rear window is heatable glass.

LOWER AND SLEEKER: The more-raked windscreen and low roofline, plus the tucked-in boot, turn the Golf Cabrio into a pretty package.

The roof-folding mechanism is fully automatic – just lift or press down on a large switch at the front of the ‘tween-seats console and it’s all over with in about 10 seconds – for those who care, nine seconds to fold, 11 to lift – and you can do it at up to 30km/h. Less if the Cape South-Easter is howling into your face.

I drove both engine versions over a route of about 220km outside Cape Town, including some it the area’s wondrous passes, mostly with the top down. The cars were solid on the road; VW has done serious homework to erase body vibration caused by the missing overhead metal and to silence the passing atmosphere.

Normal conversation is possible even at high speed with all four windows retracted and the extra stiffening under and through the bodywork seems to make the cars handle even better than the hatched versions. VW claims its cabrio is the quietest in its class – I’d say its one of the quietest in any class.

The windscreen frame is reinforced and pop-up auto rollover bars lurk in the rear. The full complement of crash bags is specific to the cabrio – and includes knee protection bag for the driver. Head and thorax bags are also there, despite there being no roof from which they can hang.

FAMILIAR STUFF: The office in the Golf Cabriolet is the same as that of the normal Comfortline and Highline models - both well-equipped but there's a number of options you can add (list below).

The Golf Cabriolet comes standard with a number of convenience and safety (passive and active) features, among them cruise control, auto-dimming mirror, adjustable steering column, climate control, multi-function computer, power external mirrors, audio with MP3 and eight speakers, height-adjustable front seats, foot wells lights, auto wipers and a three-spoked 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.

The 118kW derivative adds leather upholstery, auto high beam and stainless-steel pedals.

Also standard are green-tinted thermal glass, front fog-lights and 16” alloy rims. Parking radar, sport suspension and 17” alloy rims and wider low-profile tyres come with the 118kW model.

A full list of option and their prices is below.

VW GOLF CABRIO PRICES
1.4 TSI Comforline 90kW - R283 400
1.4 TSI Comfortline 90kW DSG a/t - R297 900
1.4 TSI Highline 118kW - R324 000
1.4 TSI Highline 118kW DSG a/t - R338 500

Full specifications (view full-screen)

OPTIONS
Metallic/pearlescent paint - R850
Tow ball - R6500
Climatronic - R4330
Rear-view camera - R5250
Park distance control front & fear - R4610
Park assist - R5780
Park assist & rear assist - R11 040
Xenon headlights (incl. fog lights & LED daytime running lights) - R9260
Vienna cool leather seats - R12 320
Bluetooth cellphone preparation - R2550
RCD-510 6-CD changer - R4080
Satnav multimedia system - R28 860

Cars delivered with three-year or 120 000km warranty, five-year or 90 000km service plan and 12-year no-rust-through warranty. Service intervals 15 000km.

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