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Car reviews - Volkswagen - Golf - DSG

The Car

26 Apr 2012

CONVERTIBLE-CRAZY Volkswagen has positioned the new Mk6 Golf Cabrio from a startling $36,990, making it $13,000 cheaper than VW’s continuing, and recently heavily revised, Eos.

Stepping in for the now-discontinued $37,700 New Beetle Cabriolet – at least until that car’s still-secret successor arrives in 2013 at the earliest – the Golf Cabrio nameplate returns after an eight-year hiatus, when the Mk3 Golf-derived version was priced from $49,750.

Unlike the folding hard-top on the Eos that tucks into the boot, the newcomer sticks with tradition by offering a fabric roof – in this case a black-only, fully automatic, electro-hydraulic soft-top affair – which not only takes a speedy nine seconds to disappear (and 11 seconds to erect) but is also operable at speeds up to 30km/h.

Automatic rollover bars positioned behind the rear headrests deploy in one-quarter of a second to provide protection if the car begins to upend or exceed a “predefined transverse acceleration or tilt angle”.

In the name of body rigidity, Volkswagen’s engineers reinforced the windscreen frame, underbody structure, sills, back panel and doors, resulting in a weight gain of 94kg to 1424kg.

Other changes include an aluminium engine shield and mounting brackets for added strength, as well as ‘cabriolet-specific’ seat-mounted side airbags that attempt to overcome the lack of curtain airbags by deploying over the entire cabin height of the car.

The Cabrio is 138mm longer than the equivalent Golf 118TSI five-door hatch, but is still 70mm shy of the Eos, while the drop-top is 56mm lower overall due to a ‘faster’ windscreen rake.

Operated via a central switch, the roof relies on two relatively quiet hydraulic pumps that activate an electro-mechanical latching system, doing away with the need for manual roof fastening.

The Wolfsburg marque claims the Golf Cabrio breaks new ground acoustically, with special attention paid to reducing high frequency noises created by wind and related poor sealing properties.

To that end, the soft-top consists of a roof liner, insulating filler layer and special external cover, while better airflow characteristics were devised and the joints of the longitudinal seams double as unobtrusive drip rails.

The light yet strong frame features screw-fastened fabric retention strips to stop air intrusion and possible flapping, even at high speeds, while the upper surface of the front roof bow acts as a cover when the top is down, eliminating the need for a separate cover.

The glass rear window contains a demister.

There is a hint of Golf GTI in the smoked LED tail-lights, 17-inch alloys shod with 225-section tyres, chrome trim on the grille and ‘sports’ suspension.

Boot space is 250 litres with the roof up or down, a lower boot lip aids access and a split-folding rear-seat backrest provides in-cabin cargo access.

Under the bonnet is Volkswagen’s now-ubiquitous 1.4-litre ‘twin-charged’ turbo and supercharged TSI four-cylinder petrol engine, tuned to deliver 118kW of power at 5800rpm and 240Nm of torque from 1500 to 4000rpm.

Driving the front wheels through a standard six-speed manual gearbox, the Cabrio sprints from 0-100km/h in 8.4 seconds, while the combined eco figures are 6.6 litres per 100km and 155 grams per kilometre.

Spending $2500 extra for the seven-speed DSG dual-clutch transmission sees the eco numbers slip by 0.1L/100km and 2g/km, though the acceleration time remains the same.

Surprisingly, no diesel is offered, even though 77kW 1.6-litre and 103kW 2.0-litre TDI engines are available abroad.

Volkswagen Group Australia can also choose from three other petrol engines available overseas – a 77kW 1.2-litre, 90kW 1.4-litre turbo and 155kW 2.0-litre turbo.

“We will look at additional engines depending on demand,” said VW Group Australia general manager of press and PR Karl Gehling.

Being based on the Mk6 Golf, the suspension consists of MacPherson struts up front and a multi-link independent rear end, while the steering system is via an electro-mechanical rack-and-pinion.

Standard equipment includes dual-zone climate-control air-conditioning, Bluetooth phone connectivity and ‘comfort’ front seats with what Volkswagen calls “rear-seat easy entry aid”.

Front and side airbags, electronic stability control, ABS brakes with electronic brake-force distribution and brake assist are among the standard safety equipment, while the independent European NCAP crash-test authority has given the Golf Cabrio a maximum five-star safety rating.

Earlier this year, Volkswagen Group Australia managing director Anke Koeckler told GoAuto the Golf Cabrio would chase a younger demographic than the Eos, which subsequently lost its manual option but gained leather across the board.

“The concept is very different you are targeting different customers,” she said. “With the Eos, you are talking about a multi-purpose car – it is a coupe and cabriolet and it is hard-top, which makes it very different from the traditional soft-roof cabriolet.

“The Golf Cabriolet will appeal to younger buyers.”

The latest Golf Cabrio is just the third generation drop-top to be based on Volkswagen’s popular small car in 32 years.

Interestingly, while all previous versions were built by German coachbuilders Karmann, the current model is produced by Volkswagen, but in the same facility in Osnabruck, Germany, which the company took over in early 2010.

Almost 700,000 Golf Cabrios have been built since 1979.

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Did you know?

The previous Golf Cabriolet sold in Australia looked like a Mk4 but was just a Mk3 under the skin with a few cosmetic updates.

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