Volkswagen Golf Cabriolet

The Essentials

  • Price from £20,890
  • What Car? says: 4 star rating
  • Fuel economy: up to 64.2mpg
  • What is it? Soft-top version of the universally popular Golf hatch makes up in style what it loses in practicality

Great

  • Roof-down fun and style in less than 10 seconds
  • Running costs aren't too eye-watering on most versions
  • Space for four inside

Gripes

  • Doesn't feel as solid as the regular-roofed car
  • Too much wind noise reaches the cabin
  • Boot opening just a little larger than a letter bo
  • Drive

    Not quite as agile as the standard car, but still fun to drive with some excellent engines

  • Inside

    Very comfortable and couldn't be easier to navigate the controls

  • Safety

    Comprehensive cover including pop-up rollover bars in case you get carried away

  • Reliability

    Feels like a top-class product but VW Golf has been rated only average by owners

  • Space

    A proper four-seat convertible with a small boot that can be extended by folding the back seats

  • Standard and extras

    Air-con, alloys, Bluetooth and DAB radio are standard - we'd upgrade to SE for parking sensors and cruise control

  • What's it like to drive?

    Without the rigidity enjoyed by its solid-roofed cousin, the Golf Cabriolet feels less stable and shudders over bumps. However it's still nimble and fun to drive. The 120bhp 1.4-litre engine offers the best balance between lively performance and affordable running costs. If driving enjoyment is top of your priority list we'd go for the GT or GTI versions which are more powerful and have lower suspension. Avoid the R version, though; while it's a second quicker than the GTI, its extra-firm ride and scrappy handling are difficult to live with, and it's extremely overpriced. Although Golf cabriolet's roof is made of fabric, it shuts out most unwelcome noises, and with it lowered you're still reasonably well protected from the wind.

  • What's it like inside?

    Simplicity is the secret here - all the controls are easy to find and use and there's enough adjustment for anyone to find a good driving position. The roof limits visibility over the shoulder so you'll need to take extra care when reversing or overtaking on the motorway. Alternatively you can just fold it away in under 10 seconds - even if you're driving at up to 19mph.
    Four adults will fit inside the Golf Cabriolet, and both rear seats have Isofix child seat mounts. Folding the rear seats extends the small boot space and makes it easier to load, but there's no getting round the hatch's tiny aperture. There are four trims. Entry-level S cars have air-con, alloy wheels, a DAB radio and Bluetooth, SE adds cruise control and parking sensors, while GT and R models add sports seats, style upgrades and sports suspension.

  • How reliable is it?

    Although it feels well built and smart the Golf was rated only average for mechanical reliability in the 2012 JD Power survey.
    Safety kit is good, with plenty of airbags, active headrests to prevent whiplash, stability control and hoops that pop up if a rollover is likely. The Golf Cabriolet scored the full five stars in Euro NCAP's latest crash tests, with 96% for adult protection and 86% for child protection.

  • Should I buy one?

    The Golf Cabriolet is cheaper than its sibling, the Eos coupé-cabriolet, and is competitively priced compared with rivals from other manufacturers, too. It's also quite cheap to run; in particular, the 16-litre diesel Bluemotion claims to average more than 62mpg. Bear in mind, though, that the Cabriolet is not just a normal Golf with a drop-top - the boot is considerably smaller, and it doesn't feel quite as good to drive. Resale values should be strong on all but the outrageously overpriced, suped-up Golf R.