"Few cars can match the VW Golf GTI Cabriolet's blend of desirability and practicality - if you can afford it, it's a great package."
The VW Golf GTI Cabriolet offers a combination of the GTI hatchback's peppy performance and the Golf Cabriolet's slick folding fabric roof. The standard Golf Cabriolet was CarBuyer's Best Cabriolet for 2012, so the range-topping GTI is off to a great start. Offering similar performance to the MINI John Cooper Works Convertible, the GTI Cabriolet offers full-size seating for four adults and features a 250-litre boot – 100-litres smaller than the hatchback. Cabin quality is high and despite the smaller boot, it's a practical soft-top when compared with the MINI or the Mazda MX-5.
The same 207bhp 2.0-litre TSI petrol engine found in the GTI hatchback powers the GTI Cabriolet. The extra weight of the folding roof mechanism and all-important body strengthening dents performance, but it can still sprint from 0-62mph in 7.3 seconds - it even sounds good. The excellent driving position and delightfully weighted controls provide a very rewarding drive, feeling well suited to almost any type of journey. It's not as manic as the MINI JCW Convertible, but still provides plenty of excitement on a twisty road.
All GTI models come with sports suspension as standard, which provides a firmer ride than but it remains comfortable enough for everyday use. The seats are very supportive and are beautifully finished in traditional red and black tartan cloth. There is a faint but noticeable amount of wind-noise at motorway speeds, but it's a small price to pay for the wind-in-the-hair thrills that a convertible offers. Volkswagen is well known for its class-leading interiors - the GTI Cabriolet's feels both sporty and upmarket.
The GTI Cabriolet is based on the latest Golf hatchback, which has an excellent reliability and safety record. Build quality is also very high. While there are no visible roll hoops, it is fitted with a pop-up system which activates if the car detects it's about to roll over. Electronic stability and anti-skid control are fitted as standard, plus there are front, side head/thorax and driver's knee airbags.
Occupants have plenty of room inside the GTI cabriolet, even with the roof up. The lack of rear doors makes climbing into the rears quite tricky however, especially for taller passengers, who will also feel quite exposed when the roof is down. With the wind deflector fitted, buffeting is heavily reduced but just like the standard Golf Cabriolet, it fits over the back seats turning the GTI cabriolet into a two-seater. The electric roof takes 11.5 seconds to close and 9.5 seconds to open. The boot is a reasonable size at 250 litres whether the roof is up or down, and the rear seats fold flat allowing owners to carry longer items. The glovebox and door bins are also useful size.
Value for money
The Golf Cabriolet is priced around £4,000 more than the hatchback, which seems quite expensive. Nevertheless, resale values of VWs are generally higher than most makes, so you'll get some of the value back when you sell the car on. The GTI Cabriolet is well equipped with 18-inch alloy wheels, a leather sports steering wheel, tartan cloth trim, cruise control and parking sensors fitted as standard.
Considering the performance on offer and the extra 138kg of weight over the hatchback, the GTI Cabriolet's official fuel consumption of 37.2mpg and 36.7 for the DSG automatic, are quite impressive. Emissions of 177g/km put the six-speed manual in Road Tax Band I. Servicing costs should be very manageable as it heavily based on VW's standard family hatchback.