Car group tests

Volkswagen Golf Cabriolet vs rivals

Can the new VW Golf Cabriolet put its Audi and Peugeot rivals in the shade?

Peugeot 308 CC vs Audi A3 Cabriolet vs Volkswagen Golf Cabriolet

The nights are getting shorter, summer is over, and it’s time to get the harvest in. But the changing of the seasons hasn’t stopped Volkswagen from unveiling its latest open-top toy.

The new Golf Cabriolet has just hit showrooms, so we crossed our fingers for a spot of early autumn sunshine and took it to meet its closest rivals in the compact convertible class.

The Golf has a proven drop-top pedigree stretching back to the late Seventies, but in recent years the Eos coupe-cabrio has taken care of convertible business in the VW family.

The newcomer stands apart thanks to its fabric roof, and we decided to pitch the expected best-seller – the 1.6 TDI SE – against its latest CC rival and a class-leading soft-top.

At the front of the folding hard-top charge is the Peugeot 308 CC. The popular family car line-up was recently revised, and the new e-HDi model combines a frugal 1.6-litre diesel engine with stop-start technology and competitive prices.However, the joker in the pack is the Audi A3 Cabriolet.

Despite its premium badge, the entry- level 1.6 TDI is the least expensive car in our line-up, and it shares most of its running gear with the Golf. So does the VW make hay, or will its rivals prove to be the class of the field?

Verdict

Sun worshippers have never had it so good – and the traditional fabric hood isn’t dead yet. The new Golf Cabriolet has lost none of the hatchback’s polish in the transition to drop-top form, and it’s all the better for its fabric roof.

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Is it good enough to beat a bona fide premium machine and the latest CC-style model to hit showrooms? We think it is.

Given how closely it resembles the cheaper Audi, this has to go down as an upset, but the VW makes real sense. The £875 premium for the Golf SE includes lots of useful kit that you won’t find on the entry-level Audi. We also think the Golf’s superior rear visibility helps to give it the edge over its German rival. So it’s a one-two for the soft-tops.

The Peugeot is the odd one out here, but we think its folding metal roof demands too many compromises. Its complicated mechanism spoils the styling of the 308, is much slower to operate than its fabric rivals and doesn’t provide the same wind-in-the-hair thrills as the VW and Audi. It’s good value, but the 308 CC finishes in third place here by a distance.

1. VW Golf Cabriolet

The convertible Golf has made a real comeback. It’s neither as glamorous as the Audi nor as clever as the Peugeot, but the VW is still the standout performer here. Its neat design, polished cabin and well judged kit list make it our number one.

2. Audi A3 Cabriolet

Second place is hard on the A3, as it undercuts the Golf on price and wears a more desirable badge. In the end, its sparse equipment count cost it victory. We could understand anyone being lured by the badge, but the next trim up costs an extra £1,890.

3. Peugeot 308 CC

The Peugeot is clever, but it’s outclassed here, and its flawed pedal layout is a big problem. The hard-top provides few tangible benefits, yet dulls the thrill – the extended windscreen reduces the excitement of top-down motoring.

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