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Powerful addition's no soft touch

By Wells Journal  |  Posted: June 21, 2012

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The Volkswagen Golf cabriolet doesn't seem like a natural candidate for the GTI treatment, but the flagship model actually makes a lot of sense, especially when fitted with the optional DSG twin clutch transmission. It's not cheap but it is very thoroughly engineered.

It's won't come as any great surprise to hear that the powerplant beneath the bonnet of the Golf GTI cabriolet is the same one that powers the award-winning hatchback. In case you're not fully up to speed with the ever-changing specification of this engine, it's a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol unit, available with either either a standard six-speed manual gearbox or optional six-speed twin-clutch DSG gearbox and producing 210 PS. The benchmark zero to 62 mph sprint is efficiently dispatched in just 7.3 seconds with either transmission, while top speed is 147mph with the manual box, while DSG drivers will have to settle for a paltry 146mph. The peak torque figure of 206 lbs ft (280 Nm) is available from just 1,700rpm to 5,300rpm and this broad torque band helps the GTI's driveability. A standard EDS electronic differential lock and XDS transverse differential lock help to ensure that the power is effectively transferred to the road.

An inconvenient truth Volkswagen kept under its hat with its previous Golf Cabriolet is that it was actually a facelifted Mark 3 rather than an actual Mark 4 which means its underpinnings were that of a 1994 car. Therefore, the step forward to a current Golf Cabriolet is massive and, at first, slightly befuddling. This is genuinely based on the Mark 6 underpinnings which means multi-link suspension front and rear and body rigidity that's from another dimension.

How seriously do we take the Volkswagen Golf GTI cabriolet? It mixes one of the most iconic badges in performance circles with a body configuration more readily associated with ladies of a certain age perambulating about shopping centres. As such, it's a bit of a curiosity. There's little doubt that it boasts an absolutely top drawer engine, transmission and suspension setup, but will those who hanker after a cabriolet care? I don't think they will. What buyers in this class might well want, however, is the top of the range model and, well, here it is. They'll have lucked into something quite uncommonly good.

If there's one thing the GTI badge has done, it's crossed many divides as a result of its success. That's brand recognition that money can't buy.

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