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 stories.
VW Golf 6 1,4 TDi
Published in The Witness Motoring on Wednesday June 3rd 2009
Pics by the author
It’s about the journey
I admit it. I have a soft spot for Golfs. At a time of economic disaster, long ago, I bought a pre-owned but not pre-loved 1300 Mk1 two door with 4 speed ‘box. When the original engine wore out, I fitted a 1600 motor. While I would never have freely chosen a Golf at that time, it shared my life for 14 years and became part of the family.
Since then, Golfs have moved upmarket to the extent that no mere Witness freelancer could consider buying a new one, but the fondness remains. They have become what some refer to as “classless”, even a bit bland in some ways, but they still deliver.
Today’s Golf Mark 6 is based on the Mark 5 platform with the same suspension, but styling has been reshaped so that it looks a bit less bulky. Interior build quality has improved and the boys from Wolfsburg found ways to cut production costs. These have (surprise!) been passed on to the consumer. For example the basic Mk 5, 1600 cc, version had a recommended selling price of R217 000, while the Mk 6 equivalent sells at R214 400, a saving of R2 600.
The introductory local range consists of a 1600cc Trendline, 1400cc turbocharged TSIs in Trendline and Comfortline, a 1400cc TSI twincharged (turbo and supercharger) in Highline and a 2- litre Highline turbodiesel. All have manual ‘boxes. Apart from bigger wheels and standard front fog lamps, the only way to distinguish “turbos” from “twins” is by the TSI text on the back panel. Turbo versions have only the “I” highlighted in red while on twincharged models, “SI” is coloured.
Rather than waffle at length about differences in trim levels, let me say that basic Trendlines are well kitted and upper levels even more so, with a pretty fair list of options available.
Trendline models come with height-adjustable front seats, electric windows in front, heated and electrically adjustable outside mirrors, seven airbags, Isofix child seat anchorages, side impact bars, remote central locking, tow-away and tilt protection, multi function computer with ambient temperature display, reading lights front and rear, speed sensitive power steering, rear fog lamps, height- and reach adjustable steering wheel, air conditioner, lockable glove box with illumination and cooling, 8-speaker radio/CD with auxiliary input and disc brakes front and rear with ABS, EBD, Antispin regulator, ESP and Electronic Differential Lock.
I left out all the stuff that everybody offers, in order to keep it short.
Inside, the traditional all-black Golf ambience, while somewhat austere, speaks of quality. The optional leather seats fitted to both test cars, a TSI turbo Comfortline and a TSI twincharger Highline, were comfortable and supportive, with ample leg- and headroom in the rear.
On the road, handling is firm and stable with high levels of grip. Brakes, especially on the lower-specced version, scrubbed off speed most reassuringly. Nothing shook or rattled.
Performance of the turbo-only 90 kW TSI was a blast. The factory claims a zero-to-100 km/h time of 9,5 seconds, but it’s not only about racing away from traffic lights.
Combined with potent brakes, excellent steering and solid road holding, the Golf is great fun on a Sunday zip through the twisties. Naturally, the 108 kW twin-charged device (0 – 100 in a claimed 8,0 seconds) is even more so.
Being force-fed, both versions just keep on delivering performance, even at indecent rates of progress.
Given a choice, I would be quite content with the 90 kW car – it was that good, but I was sad to see each one go.
Prices range from R214 400 (1,6 Trendline) to R298 900 (2,0 TDI Highline)
Warranty: 3 years/120 000 km
Service plan: 5 years/90 000 km
Service intervals; 15 000 km
Optional: Service plans extendable in increments to 180 000 km and Maintenance plans (incremental) from 90 000 km to 180 000 km.
What We Do
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.
I am based in Pietermaritzburg, KZN, South Africa. This is the central hub of the KZN Midlands farming community; the place farmers go to 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!
Want to ask a question, comment or just tell me you thoroughly disagree with what I say? That's your privilege, because if everybody agreed on everything, the world would be a boring place. All I ask is that you remain calm, so please blow off a little steam before venting too vigorously. Contact me here
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