"The VW Golf Cabriolet allows you to enjoy the sun without having to compromise on quality or performance."
The Volkswagen Golf Cabriolet is based on the standard MkVI Volkswagen Golf hatchback, so you get an identical interior of excellent build quality, made from some very durable materials with plenty of practical storage cubbies dotted around. There's plenty room for four adults inside thanks to its generous dimensions, although headroom and exposure to the elements may be problematic for very tall passengers in the back. From behind the wheel, there is very little to separate the Cabriolet from the standard sixth-generation Golf, with only larger bumps in the road making the suspension feel a bit unsettled. Front and rear LED lights are fitted as standard, which adds to the car's genuinely upmarket feel. The electric roof only takes 9.5 seconds to open, which it can do up to speeds of 18mph. As the roof folds down on top of the boot rather than into it, you get a steady 250 litres of boot space. There are five engines available: 1.2-litre, 1.4-litre and 2.0-litre TSI petrols and 1.6-litre and 2.0-litre TDI diesels, which come with fuel-saving BlueMotion Technology. While not exactly cheap to buy, the VW Golf Cabriolet will hold its value better than most rivals in the used car market, making it both a fun and sensible choice. That's why we named it CarBuyer's Best Convertible for 2013, for the second year in a row.
MPG, running costs & CO2 emissions
The most efficient engine on offer in the Golf Cabriolet is 105bhp 1.6-litre TDI BlueMotion diesel, which is capable of returning 64.2mpg in fuel economy, while low CO2 emissions of 117g/km meaning it will cost £30 a year in road tax. At the other end of the scale, the 263bhp 2.0-litre R model returns 34.4mpg and emits a hefty 190g/km, but can go fro 0-62mph in 6.4 seconds up to a top speed of 155mph. Servicing costs should also be reasonable, too, as all of the major parts - apart from the folding roof - are shared with the standard MkVI Golf hatchback.
Interior & comfort
The interior of the Golf Cabriolet is upmarket and elegant, a very relaxing place to be that feels every bit as bit as premium as you could want in a convertible. The seats provide decent support and can be fully adjusted to suit any size of driver or passenger, and the controls all feel well made and sturdy, able to withstand family wear-and-tear. That's if you can get them all in the car and don’t mind being buffeted by the wind, because the wind guard can’t be used as the same time as the back seats. On rougher roads, the suspension is well balanced and the car is very stable through corners with minimal body roll, and it also smoothes out bumps better than most other cabriolets of this size.
Practicality & boot space
One of the best things about the Golf Cabriolet is that the folding roof isn’t stored inside the boot, it's stored on top of it, which means that boot space isn’t massively cut down when the roof is lowered. The boot is a reasonable size, offering 250 litres with the roof up and down, and the back seats fold down to make even more space. Both the glove compartment and door bins are a handy size for proper storage. With the roof up there is ample space to comfortably seat four adults, with plenty of leg and headroom. As the Cabriolet is strictly a two-door car, access to the back seats is a little tight, particularly for taller passengers squeezing themselves in there. Tall people also get a bit of a raw deal when the roof is down, as they will be a bit exposed to the elements and will have to weather some substantial buffeting by the wind. A wind deflector is fitted as standard on SE and GT models, but it's an option for entry-level S cars, but one definitely worth considering as it cuts buffeting to a minimum. However, it fits over the back seats, turning the Golf into a two-seater.
Reliability & safety
While the latest seventh-generation VW Golf is still too new to feature in the 2013 Driver Power customer satisfaction survey, the previous sixth-generation Golf on which the Cabriolet is based still ranked 16th in the top 100 cars, which is pretty remarkable for a car of its age. So, given that car's excellent reliability and safety record, the Cabriolet should prove equally durable. Volkswagen itself is still languishing a bit in the middle of the manufacturers rankings, at 16th, but that is up two places on the previous year and VW is actively working on rebuilding its reputation for reliability and build quality, so we hope to see it climb up the table in the next few years. In terms of safety, it doesn’t have a Euro NCAP rating yet, but the standard hatchback Golf scored its usual maximum five-star rating in the crash safety tests, so you can expect the Cabriolet to be just as safe. There are no visible roll hoops, but all models come fitted with a pop-up system that's also featured on the Eos, which activates if the car detects it's about to flip over and pops out the roll hoops. Electronic stability and anti-skid control plus front and side head/chest airbags are all fitted as standard.
Engines, drive & performance
Even when you’re driving on the motorway with the top down you can actually have a conversation without much difficulty – that's how good VW have made the Golf Cabriolet. Golfs are generally well suited to the TSI petrol engines, with their turbocharging and supercharging resulting in smooth, quick performance while also delivering tax-friendly emissions, strong fuel economy and a satisfying noise. Available with the popular 1.2-litre and 1.4-litre TSI engines, the Cabriolet is also offered with a diesel option in the shape of the 1.6-litre TDI BlueMotion, which is an economical as you’d expect from a VW diesel. When driven on open roads, the convertible Golf really does impress, and it's very easy to forget that you are driving anything but a normal hatchback – with only the added calm of the wind rustling your hair to remind you – the ride and handling are that good. If you do want more power, 2.0-litre TDI and 2.0-litre TSI engines are also available, in GT BlueMotion and GTI models, respectively.
Price, value for money & options
When buying a Golf Cabriolet you’re in the same price range as the Renault Megane C-C and the Audi A3 Cabriolet, and it's slightly cheaper than the BMW 1 Series Convertible. The genuinely good news is that resale values of VWs on the used car market are generally higher than most rival makes, so you're likely to get more of your money back on a good second-hand deal when you do sell the Golf Cabriolet on. Equipment levels are good across the range, although we’d recommend going with the mid-range SE model, which features climate control, cruise control, parking sensors and automatic lights all fitted as standard equipment.