This is the home of automobile road tests in South Africa. We drive South African cars, SUVs and LCVs under South African conditions. It also just happens that most of the vehicles we drive are world cars as well, so what you read here probably applies to the models you can get at home.
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*Please remember too, that prices quoted were those ruling on the days I wrote the reports.
The engine: It’s the 90-kW, turbo-only version of Volkswagen’s 1400 cc, R4 16-valve power plant. Its water-cooled intercooler is built into the inlet tract while the KKK turbocharger is integrated with the exhaust manifold. A 118 kW, twin-charged (turbo- plus supercharged) variant is fitted to more expensive Highline models.
The body: Owing more in terms of styling to Golf 5 than to its successor, three styling characteristics of the cabriolet are especially appealing; the more swept-back windscreen, the visually short boot and the soft top integrated into those style lines. Roof down, the cabriolet has an elegant, extended look. With the roof up, compact and crisp styling lines around the imaginary C-pillars and the boot reflect the unmistakable character of the previous model.
The soft top consists of linkage, roof liner, insulating filler layer and exterior cover. 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, so benefitting aerodynamics.
When the roof is stowed, the upper surface of the front roof bow covers the top surface of the storage box, eliminating any need for a separate cover. As a result, the fully automatic electro-hydraulic top opens and closes in a few seconds each way. Because the roof fits into its own compartment, the 250-litre boot remains undisturbed. That’s great because the Golf Cabriolet looks just so-so with roof deployed, but sexies up to lustmobile in nine seconds flat as it shucks its top. Could this explain why it takes longer, 11 seconds, to cover up again?
The experience: Although it’s a little heavier than the sedan because of additional body reinforcement needed to keep everything quiet and free of tremors, the cabriolet performs within tenths of seconds as quickly as the solid roofed version and uses only half a cupful more fuel every 100 kilometres. It’s worth it. One small trade-off resulting from the smaller boot is that one loses the high-lifting hatch and has to make do with a lid instead. You feel that you are bending slightly and inserting luggage into a square hole rather than placing it in a normal boot. Apart from that, equipment, ambience and enjoyment are pure Golf.
Where this particular convertible outperforms all others though, is in the roof-down driving experience. In the launch report published a few months ago, we mentioned that the VW team had seen to it that the standard wind deflectors had been clipped into place before we drove them. We also mentioned that they worked very well, permitting radio reception and normal conversation at “interesting” speeds.
On the last day we had this car on test, our buddy the innkeeper needed a ride back from the big airport. Nearing PMB, she asked what it was like with its roof down. Naturally, your tester obliged. There was no time to scratch in the boot for the deflector, so we drove without it. Verdict? It makes very little difference and you don’t really need it. Most convertibles suffer intrusive wind roar and buffeting at any speed over 100 km/h. This one doesn’t. We approve.
Basic Price: R297 900
Price as tested: R331 570 – metallic paint, PDC, leather, Bluetooth, Xenon headlights and 6-CD changer
Engine: 1390 cc, DOHC, four-cylinder turbopetrol
Power: 90 kW at 5000 rpm
Torque: 200 Nm between 1500 and 4000 rpm
Zero to 100 km/h: 10,5 seconds
Maximum speed: 197 km/h
Real life fuel consumption: About 7,6 l/100 km
Tank: 55 litres
Warranty: 3 years/120 000 km
VW Automotion plan: 5 years/90 000 km at 15 000 km intervals
To see the launch report and more technical details of equipment, click here
This is a one-man show, which means that road test cars entrusted to me are driven only by me. Some reviewers hand test cars over to their partners to use as day-to-day transport and barely experience them for themselves.
What this means to you is that every car reviewed is given my own personal evaluation and receives my own seat of the pants judgement - no second hand input here.
Every car goes through real world testing; on city streets littered with potholes, speed bumps and rumble strips, on freeways and if its profile demands, dirt roads as well.
My articles appear every Wednesday in the motoring pages of The Witness, South Africa's oldest continuously running newspaper, and occasionally on Saturdays in Weekend Witness as well. I drive eight to ten vehicles most months of the year (press cars are withdrawn over the festive season - wonder why?) so not everything gets published in the paper. Those that are, get a tagline but the rest is virgin, unpublished and unedited by the political-correctness police. Hope you like what you see, because there are no commercial interests at work here. As quite a few readers have found, I answer every serious enquiry from my home email address, with my phone numbers attached, so I do actually exist.
I am based in Pietermaritzburg, KZN, South Africa. This is the central hub of the KZN Midlands farming community; the place farmers go to buy their supplies and equipment, truck their goods to market, send their kids to school and go to kick back and relax.
So occasionally a cow, a goat or a horse may add a little local colour by finding its way into the story or one of the pictures. It's all part of the ambience!
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