Volkswagen Golf Cabriolet 1.4 TSI (DSG) Review
Open Air Golfing

Story by Raymond Lai Photos by Yang and Raymond Lai
19 Oct 2011

Volkswagen rekindles the spirit of the original Golf Cabriolet with the new relatively affordable topless Golf.

Introduction, styling

Despite many claims by car manufacturers that their convertible or cabriolet models have body shells that are almost as stiff and rigid as their fixed roof counterparts, we all know that the reality somewhat the contrary – a topless car will never be as stiff as a car with a fixed roof.

There are some very rare exceptions though, whereby a topless model feels almost as stiff if not as stiff as their fixed roof equivalents. Surprisingly, one of these models is the recently launched Volkswagen Golf Cabriolet, a model is based on the fixed roof Golf hatchback rather than one that is developed and designed to be a topless model right from the off. The new model also sees the return of the topless Golf, a model that was last offered in the early 2000s and was thought to be succeeded by the Eos for the Mk V generation Golf.

With the Eos being more sophisticated and hence not as affordable as earlier Golf Cabriolet models thanks to its folding metal hard top design among other reasons, Volkswagen’s marketing men obviously felt that there is gap in its line-up below the Eos that a topless Golf can fill.

For the Golf Cabriolet, Volkswagen says that the topless model’s torsional rigidity numbers are ‘first class’ and it has listed out the measures it took to achieve the desired stiffness for the body – these include reinforced A-pillars, side sills, an aluminium engine enclose, engine mounts that act as vibration dampers, underfloor diagonal braces and a reinforced rear subframe.

The measures Volkswagen took to reinforce the topless Golf’s body seemed to have work. The Golf Cabriolet hardly suffers from any scuttle shake, even when the roads get bumpy or uneven. For the uninitiated, scuttle shake occurs when a car is not very structurally rigid and when it moves, the flexing body manifests itself as vibrations felt throughout the car, most noticeably around the windscreen and scuttle area.

Style is an important factor for a cabriolet and it this aspect, the Volkswagen shines. It might be based on the Golf but the Cabriolet’s overall styling certainly doesn’t look like it was derived from its fixed roof cousins’. Unlike early generation Golf Cabriolets, the new model makes do without the rollover hoop that characterizes the early cars as looking like picnic baskets. This is thanks to the rollover protection system that automatically deploys from behind the rear seats in the event of a rollover, a technology the Golf shares with the Eos.

The topless model shares its front end with the hatch models but all is different aft of the front wings – the A-pillars are more steeply raked and thanks to a compact canvas top rather than a folding metal hardtop, the topless Golf has a pert and compact rear end that is rather attractive to say the least. The overall styling is well proportioned with the top up or down. There’s a certain classless appeal to the Golf Cabriolet’s elegant styling as well.

The Golf’s multi-layered roof is an efficient one – press the lever next to the parking brake and the canvas top folds away flush into the body work behind the rear seats in just 9 seconds while closing it will take 11 seconds. The clever design means there’s no need for an additional tonneau cover when the top is retracted. Like most modern convertible models, the rear window is made of glass and is heated while a wind deflector is included in the boot. The latter has to be manually deployed and is placed behind the front occupants to do its job.

Like Audi’s cabriolet models, the roof can be operated while on the move at low speeds of up to 30km/h. The roof does an admirable job of insulating the cabin from road noise and when retracted, wind buffeting in the front of the cabin s kept to a minimum. In addition, unlike in coupe-cabriolet models like the Eos where the windscreen stretches further back, the Golf’s doesn’t, which further adds to the open air experience.

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