Who would have believed that Volkswagen, a marque renowned for solid virtues and no-nonsense products would visit such automotive subterfuge upon us as was witnessed when the Volkswagen Golf Cabriolet was launched in 1998?
The taillights and bumpers are also borrowed and the result is a much sleeker on-road presence. Inside, however, the changes are much less pronounced, mainly because Volkswagen has had to retain the old Mark Three model’s dashboard. Still, it is lifted by a chunky Golf GTi steering wheel and the company’s now trademark blue instrument backlighting. As with the hatchback model, twin front airbags are standard but unlike the tin top, you have to pay extra for side airbags. On a practical note, there is at least the provision of the kind of large glovebox that ordinary Golfs have to do without. So what of safety? Well, as you might expect, the car is as strong as ever on this front.
As well as the dual airbags and standard ABS, there’s the kind of complete menu you’d expect from a Golf; crumple zones, side impact bars, anti-submarining seats and so on. Particularly useful are the ISOFIX-style child seat fixings, which eliminate the need to use seatbelts. Other rivals have some of these things of course, but somehow they just don’t feel as solid.
The sturdy rollover hoop is one reason, eliminating the ’scuttle shake’ (body flexing) that usually affects drop-top cars. This is just as well, for it doesn’t do much for the aesthetic looks of the car. Nor does the hood mechanism which, when down, sits proud of the bodywork, hindering rearward visibility. The roof is at least simple to operate, with electrical assistance in all but the entry-level 1.8S version.