Volkswagen Golf Cabriolet 2012 new car review

With the Golf Cabriolet you can go from shaded to sun-drenched in just 9 seconds.

Darren Cottingham
Darren Cottingham
Expert reviewer | Auto Media Group

With the Golf Cabriolet you can go from shaded to sun-drenched in just 9 seconds. That’s all it takes to drop the top on this convertible and you can do it while driving at up to 30kph.

The good
  • Looks great
  • Sensible fuel economy for a petrol motor
  • Excellent sideways visibility – no B pillar to obstruct it
The not-so-good
  • Small boot aperture (only around 12 inches tall)
  • Throttle pedal feel is bad

On the road

Want it back up again? Just push the button and it’ll raise the roof in 11 seconds. The Golf has rollover protection features that include two sturdy bars that deploy upwards from behind the rear seats in milliseconds if it detects you’re about to become upside down.

This is active even when the roof is up. The windscreen frame is reinforced to withstand heavy impacts along with structural strengthening to the underbody, side panels, sills, back panel and doors to compensate for the loss in roof rigidity. Airbags abound – front and side curtain, head/thorax and driver’s knee will deploy in an accident.

There’s virtually seamless power available from the 1.4-litre, 90kW TSI petrol engine through the 7-speed DSG gearbox. You barely feel the gear changes, and if you drive it sensibly you’ll get fuel economy in the mid 6l/100km range. Put your foot to the floor and it’ll get to a hundred in 10.5 seconds.

The steering is precise and well-weighted and there is excellent visibility forwards and sideways. The rear window is not as wide as hard-top vehicles but parking is not a problem, as all-round parking sensors (ParkPilot) and a convenient display on the in-dash touch screen warn you if you’re getting too close to an immovable object.

This screen is also used for the multimedia system which features a user-friendly radio interface, iPod integration and Bluetooth phone integration, too.

Inside and out

The interior is comfortable. There is even enough room in the back for two more non-professional-basketball-playing adults to travel in reasonable comfort.

One thing with a convertible is that winters can be cold. The Golf comes with heat-insulating windows and twin ‘scout’ fabric heated front seats that not only heat up extremely quickly but will get to the kind of temperatures that will bring on a nice sweat even in winter (which it was when we tested this car).

While many heated seats are a bit lackluster, these are probably hot enough to render guys temporarily impotent. Why not leather seats? Well, if you’ve ever left your top open in really hot sun then got back into a car with leather seats you’ll soon appreciate fabric because your legs won’t get burned on them; conversely, fabric seats are much warmer in winter. The seats also have convenient drawers under them to hide small items away from view.

There’s a lockable glovebox with the cooling facility and a small storage area under the front centre armrest. The cup holders in front of that aren’t that well designed to hold water bottles but do work. For a cabriolet, the Golf runs fairly quietly. There was definitely no intrusive road noise that you can get with some convertibles.

Moving to the outside, the Golf looks pretty good with the roof up, but great with the roof down. The strong shoulder line becomes even more prominent when the roof is removed. If anything, the headlights look a little too soft for the rest of the body design, especially the fantastic 17-inch wheels, but the impression is that of a very tidy, well-proportioned vehicle.


Aside from the fact that the boot aperture is small (a function of having the folding roof), the only problem with the Golf is the accelerator pedal. Push it a bit and nothing happens; push it a fraction more and it’s all on – the car rockets forwards (or worse, backwards) and then you have to stamp on the brakes.

But overall this little Golf is a great little car. It comes with a 12-year anti-corrosion warranty and a 3-year unlimited mechanical warranty for those worried about potential higher Euro repair costs.

While the small boot aperture isn’t going to suit everyone the actual boot size (250l) is not bad for a cabriolet. The roof will appeal to sun lovers and it’s extra convenient having two full sized seats in the rear with usable leg room.

Note: This was reviewed as a new vehicle.

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