Extended Testing

Road tests, usually, are a matter of cramming as many miles as possible into a seven-day loan and hoping that all the virtues, faults and foibles will be uncovered. So it is possible to miss the fact that the heating system may not be much good if we test the car in the summertime, or that the ventilation is poor if the test is carried out in the depths of winter!

As we mentioned in our Golf 2 appraisal in March, Volkswagen loaned out no fewer than 100 cars for a period of two months, which gave us a much better opportunity to learn all about the car. After 3,000 miles in a 1.6 GL we remained very pleased with the Golf in almost every aspect, finding that it returned 32.52 mpg overall and used just half a litre of oil.

Fuel consumption has never been worse than 30.56 mpg or better than 33.92 mpg, which isn’t bad since most of the mileage involves commuting from Oxfordshire to the City of London each day in the least possible time. The larger sized fuel tank, with 55-litre capacity, rarely takes more than 45 litres of two-star, by which time the fuel gauge is sinking into the red, but allows a range of 300 to 340 miles.

The speedometer is a full 10% fast, making an indicated 80 mph on motorways almost legal and certainly relaxing with the “overdrive” fifth gear, labelled as the Economy gear.

It was, perhaps, a little ambitious to use the word “flawless” to describe the Golf 2 though we remain convinced that the design has ironed out all the criticisms of the Golf 1. The direct-acting servo brakes are much more positive than before, the car is quieter and more comfortable, and carries its occupants and their luggage with greater ease.

Longer acquaintance has strengthened our dislike of the heating / ventilation system, which warms the car extremely well but cannot ventilate at the same time! There is no option to having warm air (or no air at all) coming out of the fascia vents when the heater is on a warm setting, so you must either have cold feet or drive with a window open.

Tyre noise is fairly marked on all but the smoothest surfaces, and the dashboard now creaks loudly on bumpy roads, particularly in the first mile from cold when the automatic choke makes the engine “hunt” and sends tremors through the body, so there is some more work for VW’s engineers to carry out during the life of Golf 2.

Our Audi Coupe Injection has recorded 10,000 miles in nine months (most of the last eight weeks dormant while we drove the Golf 2) and continues to be a very impressive GT car, better value for money perhaps at £9,800 than the Golf GL is at £6,700, relatively speaking. The 2.2-litre five-cylinder engine has never even given a moment’s trouble, though after two weeks at rest last autumn the car suffered from a totally flat battery…even the clock stopped. This one-off occurrence was traced by Marshall’s of Reading to the boot not being shut properly, allowing the lamp to remain on. It seems to be a common fault that the boot release catch in the offside doorpost must be pushed home firmly in order for the catch to work, having a weak return spring.

The Coupe, with a 130 bhp engine, is about 4 mpg thirstier than the Golf GL returning 26 to 30 mpg in similar conditions, though using a litre of oil per 2,000 miles. There were no notes for Marshall’s at the 5,000 mile (first) service, though they found that a rear foglamp bulb had failed, and at 10,000 miles they adjusted the headlamp main beam downwards, tightened the alternator belt and adjusted the clutch, which has been rather fierce from new. The bill for that was £78.35, which seems reasonable for the first 10,000 miles in the life of a car.

Performance is good for this class of car with a 0-60 mph time of 8.6 seconds and a maximum speed of 122 mph, the smoothness of the five-cylinder engine being a prime virtue, and despite the apparent drawback of having this lump ahead of the front wheels the Audi Coupe does not understeer to a marked extent.

Despite its GT appearance the Coupe is not cramped for space, having as much room inside as the 80 saloon, both on the same 100-inch wheelbase floorpan, so an owner wouldn’t need to sacrifice the comfort of his/her family for a bit of style. Ventilation in the Audi Coupe is good, the centre pair of vents always distributing cold air, and we’ll just have to hope that this virtue isn’t cancelled out when the model undergoes a Cx-cheating facelift this autumn. — M.L.C.