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Welcome back... we've missed you; Top-down Golf is a little cracker.

Byline: Edward Stephens

IT'S hard to believe, but there hasn't been a Volkswagen Golf Cabriolet manufactured for more than nine years.

While the hatchback has gone from strength to strength fans of the convertible have been left waiting.

It's a wait that has been worthwhile, however, because the new version is a little cracker.

With its steeply angled windscreen leading to a much more rakish fabric roof, the latest version looks far more like a sports car than its predecessor, although it's still a full four-seater.

And because the wheelbase is exactly the same size as that of the Golf hatchback, everyone can enjoy plenty of interior space. The same thing is not true of luggage space, however, which is far more restricted. The boot on the Cabriolet is deep but has a narrow opening which limits the type of luggage you can get in. Certainly it doesn't come close to that of the hatchback which offers 350 litres of space, although the fact that the rear seatbacks fold down does expand its 250-litre capacity.

Unlike a lot of convertibles, however, when the hood is lowered - which takes just nine seconds - it doesn't impinge on the boot space.

And thanks to an insulating filler layer between the exterior layer and roofliner of the hood this Cabriolet is one of the quietest on the market. It's so good that it easily stands comparison with the hatchback when it comes to interior noise levels.

The roof operation is all electric and it can be lowered on the move, at speeds of up to 18 miles per hou r.

The other remarkable thing about my GT test car was its performance with just a 1.4-litre engine under its bonnet.

The secret, however, is that this relatively small engine comes with both a turbocharger and a supercharger, which gives the car 160bhp. That means that when you want performance this drop-top can deliver it with gusto.

The engine is linked to VW's famous DSG seven-speed automatic gearbox, which promises the comfort of an automatic gearbox with the responsiveness and economy of a manual one.

Certainly on the road this gearbox adds a new dimension to easy, responsive motoring, taking all the effort out of gearchanges while at the same time offering superb flexibility and instant kickdown response.

The ride is firm but compliant making this Cabriolet one you can have real fun with, irrespective of whether you have the top up or down.

If you are used to a Golf you will find the interior of the Cabriolet very familiar. And on a practical note getting into the rear seats of this two-door is easy thanks to the "easy entry" function.

The new Golf Cabriolet is - a little like a MINI - one of those cars that cuts across class and sex barriers.

Unlike its predecessor it has a definite up-market image and a design that is radical, but not so radical that it will not stand the test of time.

Between 1978 and 2001 more than 600,000 Golf Cabriolets came off VW's production line and were snapped up.

There is little doubt that the new Cabriolet too will be a car which will be very much sought after.

Tops off: The new Volkswagen Golf Cabriolet with one of its predecessors
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Birmingham Mail (England)
Date:Nov 25, 2011
Words:548
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