30 January 2013 Last Updated: 28 October 2013

Full Volkswagen Golf GTI Cabriolet (12 on) Model Review

by Lewis Kingston, Consumer Journalist

  • We drive the 207bhp Golf GTI Cabriolet
  • 0-62mph in 7.3s, top speed of 146mph
  • Available to order now, priced at £30,765
Volkswagen Golf GTI Cabriolet (12 on) 2.0 TSI GTI 2d DSG - Road Test
The new Golf GTI Cabriolet, despite a few minor issues, is a satisfying car to drive.

The new Golf GTI Cabriolet, despite a few minor issues, is a satisfying car to drive.

It's well built, as you'd hope. It's comfortable, quiet, refined at motorway speeds and it comes with plenty of kit.

The formbook should tell us that it's a capable yet somewhat disinteresting car, lacking that sparkle or flair that rivals may offer but, thankfully, that's not the case this time.

While the Golf doesn't deliver spades of feedback and engaging handling, its excellent turbocharged petrol engine and rapid-shifting gearbox make it invigorating, rather than insipid, to drive.

So, what do you get for the rather substantial list price of £30,765? Well, the Golf comes with a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine that thumps out 207bhp and 280Nm of pulling power.

A six-speed dual-clutch DSG automatic gearbox transmits the power to the Golf's front wheels, while an electronic differential lock and stability control help maintain traction and improve handling.

The Golf dispatches the 0-62mph sprint in just 7.3 seconds and its top speed is a claimed 146mph. The engine offers stacks of mid-range pull; this, combined with the quick gearbox and good levels of traction, allows the GTI to provide suitably gratifying performance.

Power is delivered smoothly too, with an appropriately urgent exhaust note. The Golf isn't brutal, in the way that a Focus ST might be, but it's certainly quick and its refined performance feels appropriate.

Around corners the Golf proves accurate and agile, with little body roll and plenty of grip. You won't get much sense of what's going on through the steering wheel but the steering is well weighted and reassuring, and the brakes firm and powerful.

The ride quality isn't bad either. The Golf's quite firm, and it does tend to crash about a little, but it doesn't irritate. It does feel less rigid than the hatchback version, which is understandable but it isn't too much of a problem.

Inside you're treated to a typically solid-feeling Volkswagen interior with some GTI-specific detailing, like "Jacara" cloth seats, and there's plenty of kit on offer.

As standard the Golf most notably features a DAB radio, Bluetooth connectivity, dual-zone climate control, automatic wipers and lights, cruise control, hill hold assist and front and rear parking sensors.

The only minor disappointment is that sat-nav isn't standard. Adding it bumps the price up by a further £730 or £1,785, depending on which system you go for.

Despite the performance on offer, the Golf's not too bad on the economy front. Volkswagen claims it'll average 36mpg and its CO2 emissions are rated at 180g/km, so you'll pay £215 a year for road tax.

There are other benefits to the Golf Cabriolet too. The electric roof operates quickly and easily, and it's still quite refined and comfortable with the top down.

Some drivers may be put off by the lack of real excitement and involvement, but for many those won't be major concerns.

If you're trawling your local dealerships for a convertible that's satisfying to drive, easy to live with and reliable, look no further.

One other thing: if you intend to use your Golf all year round, invest in a set of winter tyres or snow socks. Even on roads that are only slightly snowy or iced over, with low-profile summer tyres on, the Golf GTI Cabriolet suffers from a complete lack of traction and grip.

The new Volkswagen Golf GTI Cabriolet is available to order now, with prices starting at £30,765.

Also consider:

Citroen DS3 Cabrio

It's a small and stylish cabriolet. 1.6 THP DSport models offer adequate performance, with 0-62mph taking 7.9 seconds.

BMW 1 Series Convertible

The 1 Series is a sensible choice. Purists will appreciate its rear-wheel-drive layout and a range of engines are available.

MINI Roadster Convertible

Opt for the John Cooper Works version and you'll have a sporty convertible MINI that's capable of 0-62mph in just 6.5 seconds.