Golf “quite good” shock

In Hyundai on July 25, 2012 at 7:53 pm

The world over people have bought into the myth that Volkswagen are reliable.

Maybe they once were, but my experience has been far less favourable, so to that end I’ve ignored the brand for the last 17 years.

My first VW was a brand new pale blue 2 litre twin carb 1979 Transporter.  It went like stink, but so did the clutch cable.  Constantly snapping due to a manufacturing fault which the local dealer would not fix under warranty.

The second was a well used ’82 Polo “C” in burgundy. We assumed we were just unlucky, and that non starting in the winter was just our bad luck. My wife liked it, but I didn’t particularly rate the 1043 cc machine because quite frankly I prefer a car that will start at the end of a hard day’s work. We once carried 900kg of bricks in ours, and that didn’t do the shocks any good.

What I do remember is it sold quite quickly when advertised, and ever gluttons we bought a newer ’85 CL with a monstrous 1272cc lump up front, and trendy wheel trims.  In fact the check interior and extra lamps at the front turned this into an attractive hatch.

BUT it lost all coolant shortly after we’d bought it and needed a new engine at less than 3 years old. Darn it, we already broke from buying it and then got hit with a huge bill.  My other abiding memory was woefully vague steering, how anybody kept the hot G40 on the road is beyond me.

I must be stupid because I also bought an 8 owner Scirrocco MkII GTi, hoping to combine performance with practicality.  Mine had a very tired gearbox, a dodgy re-spray that started peeling the moment after I handed over £800, and a tendency to not start in the winter. On a good day I could drive to Norfolk at an average of 60 mph, and get 40 mpg. The engine was so torquey I seldom needed to changed down to overtake.

The boot was huge, and it did seat 4, but we found the front wing and A pillar no match for a milk float. My wife totalled the Scirocco when temporarily blinded by a low sun. At least it forced us to forget VW and try something cute, a Nissan Micra Shape.

But back to 2012, and a basic Golf Estate with the 105 bhp 5 speed oil burner combo.  I’ve just done 850 odd miles in one over the course of two days.

I hired it to make a delivery for our business, as the Sonata simply didn’t have enough room.  I brought my prejudice to this review, and was happy to reveal VWs are still rubbish, but maybe they aren’t.

First impressions.  Nasty plastic steering wheel, and gear knob. Especially unpleasant on a hot and clammy day.

Second impression, a driver’s seat which wasn’t comfortable in town use.  Sitting in it was fine, but once I had to work the clutch it seemed to lack support for my lower back.

Third impression. No torque, no go, not your average diesel engine.

By now I’d driven about 800 yards.  It was a “joy” to be proved right, VWs simply aren’t that good.

Then there was the small matter of a 565 mile trip on a mixture of windy “A” roads, and a considerable part of the M5, M6, motorways. It was quite clear this machine is not designed for overtaking.

BUT, what about the rest of the package?

Load space? Excellent!

Radio? Very good, but no steering wheel controls.

Instruments? Clear and with easy menus operated by the right hand wiper control.

Cruise Control? Yes, even on a boggo VW this “must have” feature was fitted and worked well.

Looks? Five out of 5.  Nicer than the hatch.

Road noise? Not much once top and running, a great cruiser.

Handling? Superb.

Ride?  First rate!

Economy? Unbelievable.

At the end of a 2 day run my heavy right foot returned an average speed of 40mph, and 52.6 mpg.  When I jumped back in the Sonata the readout said 22.6mpg.  Look at how much fuel and money I saved.  In effect the £105 hire charge was a snip as the same journey in the V6 Sonata would have cost me around £70 more in fuel.

One last PLUS on the Golf, it has a super comfy central armrest, nearly as squishy as the one on our old Renault 16TX. 

So the obvious thing would be to trade in the Hyundai and get a Golf? 

Er no.

It ain’t that good!


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