Small, four-seat convertibles like the Volkswagen Golf Cabriolet are something of a rare breed these days, so the convertible Golf has few direct rivals. You could argue that the Audi TT, Audi A3 Cabriolet and BMW 2 Series convertible are alternatives, but all three are much more expensive than the VW, while the DS 3 Cabrio is slightly smaller and not quite a full convertible like the Golf.
The Golf Cabriolet's existence in a relatively small class has its advantages for Volkswagen, as it means the need to update the soft-top Golf isn’t quite as pressing. For instance, the Golf Cabriolet is still based on sixth-generation mechanicals, rather than the current seventh-generation used by the Golf hatchback. While this means it still drives nicely and gets the same engines as the current generation, the slightly outdated styling – both inside and out – is starting to show its age, especially when compared to the Audi A3 convertible.
That's not to say that it feels in any way lacking in quality. All the materials used inside feel solid and well put together, while the exterior design is typically understated. While a convertible always offers compromises, whether its practicality or performance, the Golf offers fewer of these than some other drop tops.
The roof opens and closes impressively quickly – taking just 9.5 seconds to open and close – something which can be done at speeds of up to 19mph. Even with the roof folded away, the boot isn’t rendered useless, while space in the rear seats is reasonable too. The car always remains impressively quiet and refined, whether the roof is up or down.
There's a good range of smooth, powerful and efficient petrol engines under the bonnet, with three petrols and two diesel engines on offer. Our favourites are the 123bhp 1.4-litre turbocharged petrol and the 148bhp 2.0-litre diesel. They offer the best balance between running costs and performance.
In terms of running costs, these engines will manage 51 and 65mpg respectively, producing CO2 emissions of 128g/km and 112g/km. This means you’ll be liable for a tax bill of either £110 or £30, a difference that is offset by the fact that the diesels cost more to buy than the petrol models.
You can choose from three trim levels – S, SE and GT – and while standard equipment is ok, it's starting to feel a little sparse compared to newer cars. For example, you have to upgrade to top-of-the-range (and rather expensive) GT versions until you get satellite-navigation as standard. All models get alloy wheels and a 6.5-inch touchscreen-controlled infotainment system, which features DAB radio, USB sockets and Bluetooth phone connectivity.
We’d recommend going for a mid-range SE model, as this adds dual-zone climate control, front and rear parking sensors, automatic wipers, cruise control, automatic headlights and a speed limiter. Top-spec GT models are expensive and the only significant addition to the kit list is sat-nav. GT models are also only available with the most powerful engines.
The Golf Cabriolet earned the full five-star award from the experts at Euro NCAP, managing an impressive 96% adult occupant safety rating. It manages this thanks to its impressive array of safety equipment, which includes airbags, pop-up rollover hoops, a tyre-pressure monitoring system and two ISOFIX child car seat mounting points in the back seats. Naturally, it also gets features like traction control, anti-lock brakes and electronic stability control.
ileage should consider the reasonably efficient and decently priced 1.4-litre TSI SE petrol model.