VW Golf Cabriolet: Sun starts play

  • Sun finally arrives for some topless action
  • Quick action roof saves hassle and keeps driver dry
  • Long distance cruising reveals some neat touches

Finally after the wettest of wet starts to the summer, we have had some sun. Suddenly life with a convertible makes sense.

With the roof down the feeling of a warm breeze, the smell of the rich countryside and the warmth of the sun on your bonce make driving home a journey to savour and enjoy. It’s less about stress and speed, and more about relaxation and recreation.

The engine and six-speed gearbox have bedded in nicely and match the relaxed nature of driving a convertible with the roof down. The strong pulling power of the two-litre diesel means I can quickly get up through the gears to hit cruising speed effortlessly.

By 30mph I am already in fourth and by 40mph I can hook sixth. The gear changes are so easy that if you weren’t looking only the change in engine noise would give the game away.

One of the Golf’s party tricks is its ability to lower (or raise) its fabric roof at speeds up to 18mph and takes less than 10 seconds to complete the job. It’s a useful stunt for two occasions: when pulling into a car park and when showers strike.

Leaving a car in a public car park I never like to leave the roof down. While the Golf has alarm protection even with the roof down, I feel more reassured with the top up. From the moment of pulling into the car park, one pull of the lever has the roof rising into position. By the time I have swung into an available space the roof is pretty much in place.

I do have to judge it so that the momentum of the car carries it into the space because I can’t change gear and operate the roof lever at the same time (the roof mechanism only works if the lever is either held down or pulled and held up). Get it wrong and the car kangaroos into its space or stalls while the roof freezes mid-motion. Not cool.

I also found the ability to raise the roof on the (slow) move useful when stuck in town traffic and it started to rain. There was nowhere to pull over but I could keep moving and get the roof up at same time.  No hassle and a dry head – result.

I have also been doing some long distance trips not least down to Weymouth – a good three and a half hour drive from work. It was a chance to really test the cruise control to see how useful it is.

The controls are found in the left-hand indicator stalk and consist of a small flick switch on top of the stalk end (switches cruise control on and off, plus cancel function), plus a rocker switch on the end (sets and resets speed, plus increases or decreases speed).

It’s a much, more simple affair than other cruise controls which tend to be separated out with their own buttons or control stalks. I found it very easy to use and was able to control the car’s speed with the rocker switch to match the traffic conditions with barely a thought.

A couple of times I knocked the cruise control off completely when I only meant to cancel the system but on the whole I found it a simple system. However, if you have large fingers or are not particularly dextrous then I can see it being tricky to work. Both the rocker and flick switch are small and require dexterity to use successfully.

That said the Golf is continuing to impress whether roof up or roof down. Fuel consumption remains in the high 40s or early 50s, tank range is covering more than 600 miles and I still think it is one of the better looking convertibles on the market. Shame the sun has been a reluctant visitor this summer.

Volkswagen Golf Cabriolet static exterior

Rare moment of sun out, roof down. Shocked driver sitting down out of shot

Current mileage: 7,274 miles

Average mpg: 51.1 mpg