Volkswagen Golf GLi

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Volkswagen’s Golf GLi is to cabriolets what the GTi is to hot hatchbacks. It was as far back as February 1979 that the Golf GLS Convertible was introduced in this country, reviving a way of motoring life that had become almost defunct; the GLi arrived a year later, and in one form or another has been with us ever since.

While sister models have come and gone, the Convertible has soldiered on with the original Giugiaro-designed body instead of the revised Golf shape introduced a couple of years ago. It is a design, though, which has not really dated, its chunky good looks still attracting glances from passers-by.

In fact, as soon as this car was parked outside my front door my eight-year-old (nuts about cars but rather blase nowadays with the continual stream of them passing through our hands), absolutely insisted that she be taken for a ride straightaway. It took no more than three hundred yards for the verdict “wicked” to be pronounced.

The Golfs performance is not spectacular by today’s standards, tardier than the Vauxhall, Peugeot and even Ford competition, but it feels quick, for the engine remains sweet all the may to the red line. This sense of well-being is enhanced by marvellous handling. It is quite capable of being flung about, and even if it finally resorts to lifting a rear wheel when its limits of adhesion are flouted it feels surefooted.

Rear visibility and heavy steering at parking speed slightly detract from the overall pleasure of driving the GLi. The hood sits rather high in the folded position, although the fact that it aligns with the rear of the car does help when parking. Putting the hood up and down is simplicity itself, but fitting its bag is slightly onerous.

The driving position is comfortable, but heeling and toeing is difficult. The driver is confronted by the usual GTi instruments but space is at a premium, the boot area in particular very limited. Being a bit long in the tooth, the Golf suffers in comparison to its immediate rivals, but having been informed by the younger generation that it is the car to be seen in who am I to argue — even if it does cost £13,728 on the road? WPK

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