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In-depth reviews

Volkswagen Golf Cabriolet (2011-2016) review

The VW Golf Cabriolet offers nearly as much refinement as a hard-top and all the qualities of the standard hatchback

Overall Auto Express Rating

3.0 out of 5

  • Build quality, quiet even with roof down, handling
  • Cramped rear seats, slow entry-level petrol, noisy diesel

The Volkswagen Golf Cabriolet returned in 2011 after a nine-year break. It's based on the Golf MkVI, so benefits from excellent refinement and sharp handling, but has the added benefits of a folding fabric roof. In fact there are very few compromises over the standard Golf, making the Cabriolet a great choice for summer fun. 

Engines, performance and drive

The most notable thing about the Golf Cabriolet is the incredible refinement, even at motorway speeds. At the national limit you can easily hold a conversation when the roof is down, and at low speeds there's barely any wind buffeting at all. Both petrol engines are smooth and punchy, but we'd say it's worth going for the extra performance offered by the 1.4-litre TSI. There is a 1.6-litre diesel option, but it can be a bit noisy for top-down motoring. It does have benefits for fuel economy though. Sitting at the top of the range, the R Cabriolet offers frantic acceleration and truly impressive handling. Bewarned, though, the R model thuds over the smallest of ridges where the standard model would normally drive over with little fuss.

MPG, CO2 and Running Costs

Combined fuel consumption for the diesel is an impressive 64.2mpg and CO2 emissions are 117g/km. The petrol units are impressive too, and the 104bhp 1.2-litre unit claims to return 47.2mpg. Our favourite engine – the 1.4 TSI – isn't too far off this figure with 44.1mpg. A three year or 30,000 mile service plan costs just £299. Going for the performance-focused R model results in fuel economy of 34.4mpg and CO2 emissions of 190g/km. Insurance costs will be high, too. 

Interior, design and technology

The Cabriolet is arguably a more successful design than the standard Golf. It looks great with the roof up or down – that's thanks to the clean design which sees rollover hoops hidden out of sight and the roof stowed neatly on top of the rear deck. There are GTI and R variants that get more aggressive designs, with larger alloy wheels and different bodykits, too. The R variant gets two large chrome exhaust pipes, a gloss black grille, 19-inch alloys and some R badging to mark it out.

Practicality, comfort and boot space

Some cabriolets give up boot space to accommodate the roof when it's folded, but that's not the case with the Golf Cabriolet. Instead, it folds on to the top of the boot meaning 250 litres of space with the roof up or down. The rear seats also fold down in case you need to carry larger items. Things are a little cramped in the rear of the car, and full-size adults may find things getting a little uncomfortable if they spend any extended amount of time in the back.

Reliability and Safety

Volkswagen includes a three-year, 60,000-mile warranty with the Golf Cabriolet which should put any worries you have about reliability to bed. Roll-over accidents won't be a problem, as the car can detect if the car is a bout to roll and deploy the hoops from behind the rear seats in a quarter of a second to protect occupants. There is no Euro NCAP rating, but the hard-top Golf got a full five stars with a 97 per cent score for adult occupant protection.

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