"The 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 hatchback, so the cabin is identical, which means excellent build quality, use of some very durable materials and plenty of practical storage cubbies. There's room for four adults inside, and from behind the wheel there is very little to tell the Cabriolet from the normal hatch, with only large bumps making the suspension feel unsettled. Front and rear LED lights are fitted as standard, which enhances the car's upmarket feel. The electric roof takes only 9.5 seconds to open, and it can do this at speeds of up to 18mph. With the canvas roof folded down, rear passengers are slightly exposed to the elements and boot space becomes limited to 250 litres. There are three engines available: 1.2, 1.4 and 2.0-litre TSI petrols and 1.6 and 2.0-litre TDI diesels, which comes with fuel-saving BlueMotion Technology. While not cheap to buy, the VW Golf Cabriolet will hold its value better than most rivals, making it both fun and sensible. This is why we named it CarBuyer's Best Convertible for 2013, the second year in a row.
Volkswagen Golfs are very well suited to the TSI petrol engines. Turbocharging and supercharging results in smooth, quick progress while delivering tax-friendly emissions, impressive economy and a rewarding noise. Available with the popular 1.2 and 1.4 TSI engines the Cabriolet also comes with a diesel option in the form of the 1.6 TDI BlueMotion, a torquey and very economical choice. On open roads, the soft-top Golf really impresses, and it's very easy to think you are driving the normal hatchback, so good is the ride and handling. If you want more power, 2.0-litre TDI and 2.0-litre TSI engines are also available, in GT BlueMotion and GTI models respectively.
Smooth, upmarket and elegant are all words that could easily be used to describe the Golf Cabriolet's cabin. The seats provide good support and can be adjusted to suit all sizes, and the controls all feel well made and chunky. On rough roads the suspension is well balanced to provide stability in corners but also smothers bumps better than most other cabriolets of this size.
The standard Golf hatchback has an excellent reliability and safety record, and the Cabriolet should prove equally capable in this area. There are no visible roll hoops, but all Cabriolet models are fitted with the same pop-up system featured on the Eos, which activates if the car detects it's about to flip over. Electronic stability and anti-skid control plus front and side head/thorax airbags are all fitted as standard.
With the roof up there is plenty of space to seat four adults, with ample leg and headroom. As the Cabriolet is only a two-door, access to the rear seats can be tricky, especially for taller passengers. Tall people also get a raw deal when the roof is down, as they will be exposed to the elements and buffeted by the wind. A wind deflector is standard on SE and GT models, but is an option for entry-level S cars. This cuts buffeting to a minimum, but fits over the back seats, turning the Golf into a two-seater. The boot is a reasonable size, and the rear seats fold to make even more space, but the roof folds down into the boot, which cuts space to 250 litres. Both the glovebox and door bins are a useful size.
Value for money
The Golf Cabriolet is priced similarly to the Audi A3 Cabriolet and Renault Megane C-C, and represents good value compared to the BMW 1 Series Convertible. The really good news though is that resale values of VWs are generally higher than most makes, so you'll get more of your money back when you sell the car on. Equipment levels are good, with mid-range SE models featuring climate control, cruise control, parking sensors and automatic lights as standard.
The Golf Cabriolet 1.6 TDI BlueMotion is powered by a 105bhp diesel engine and is capable of 64.2mpg, while low emissions mean it costs £30 a year in Road Tax. Servicing costs should be reasonable, too, as all of the major components, aside from the folding roof are shared with the Golf hatchback.