Episode 220. Volkswagen Golf Cabriolet. Y694 MJH. (Part 6).

With my extended ownership due to ebay time wasters of the Golf continuing I can say that I have liked this little car less and less every day. Don't get me wrong, it's a nice little car, it looks OK, it goes OK, but it still just feels a little averagely average, and a bit soul-less. I realise that probably sound s ridiculous, but that's how it feels to me. It lacks character, and like I said, I have never owned a Golf, I have been in a few, and I have found them to be ok, but not particularly special. Years ago, when I was in my early twenties (the early nineties) all my friends were getting into Golfs, but my brother had an early Fiat Strada. What struck me about this was that although amoungst my Golf loving friends who regarded my Brothers Fiat Strada as a bit of a joke, the Strada was actually the better car. It went better, and looked better, and as I remember it was a lot cheaper for my brother to insure. In short, it just seemed like a more interesting car to drive than the Golf. I'll admit that even to this day I still look for a Fiat Strada for myself, but it would seem that due to old Fiats wanting to turn back into Iron Oxide at even the idea of rain I may well be out of luck. But the search continues.

But back to the Golf, now I realsie that I may well have Golfers crying into their cornflakes with what I am about to say, but here's goes anyway. For me the worst car of the year so far has been this 2001 Golf Cabrio. Don't get me wrong, it wasn't that it was a bad car, it's just that it was a very bland and boring car, and I felt that way even as I was driving it home on my first drive. I thought that it might grow on me, but it never did, and I think that had it have been a tin-top it would've been truly un-remarkable, and very un-inspiring. It did everything you'd expect it to do, but nothing more. It's possibly not the most boring car I've ever owned, that honour would surely belong to the Honda CR-V but the thing about the Honda was that I think the build quality was better than the Golf. It's not even the worst car that I've ever owned, because that award must surely fall at the feet on the Aixam 500-5 that thing was truly terrible, but the fact that it was so terrible is what actaully made that car interesting to drive and own. I hate to say it, but the Golf will probably go down in in my personal car history as the least memorable, and least remarkable car I've ever owned... So far!

But thankfully, and finally, away it goes!

With the sale of the Golf cabrio, and watching it drive away like that, then this surely should be the end of it, right? Nope, wrong! When the listing ended it ended up at yet another loss, selling at just £820 which means of course that I made a loss to the tune of £135. I had figured that I would make a loss on this as I bought it when the Sun was out, which is the wrong time of the year to buy a convertible, because everyone else wants to buy one. However I didn't figure I'd lose so much, as the Sun is still out, and I thought that the fact that it is a Golf, it might be able to carry it's own no matter what style of body it had. What I didn't figure into the equation was the fact that it is now the school Summer holidays, and so people are probably more likely to be spending their money on going away, and taking their little Monsters here, there, and everywhere rather than going out for a bit of topless motoring. And rightly so.

Anyway, I had to make my peace with that and so I sent the winning bidder an email saying Congratulations on winning my little Golf, when would you like to come and collect it? All the best, so on, and so fourth... I then waited for a reply, which eventually turned up over 24 hours later, it just read "Weekend ok?" So I said, sure, which day and what sort of time, another 24 hours later I got the reply, "Saturday PM." Now I don't know about you, but personally I felt that these answers were a little evasive, and maybe a little bit rude. But for the sake of the sale I was prepared to overlook these rude, and perhaps un-educated replies. I just wanted the thing gone so I could continue this story of my bank accounts slow demise! Anyway, I then never heard another thing from them... Until Friday when I get a phonecall at work, "Hi mate, we're in the area, can we collect the Golf?" Oh for crying out loud, I thought you were coming tomorrow, I thought to myself. Yeah ok I said, I'm at work at the mo, I'll meet you in about half an hour. "Cool" Comes the reply, "I've left your address at home, can you give it to me again?" So I said, yeah, gave them my address, and started packing up my stuff ready to go home early (No bad thing on a Friday I'll admit, but I was still pretty urinated off!)

So I get home, and they pull up about five minutes later. I'm still a bit ticked off, and to be fair, I was a little short with them. But they give me the money, filled out the documents, jumped in the car, and headed off. I thought to myself, good thats gone, and headed inside to make a cup of tea. After chilling out for a bit I realise that I may have been a bit rude, so I send them an email to apologise for my behavior, and thats we're it all turns a little bit sour... Because I then get a selection of emails from them saying that they are collecting tomorrow as planned. So I say, no, it's been collected, which is quickly followed up by another email saying "That old chestnut!! I only wanted the car for the reg no Y694 MJH worth more than the car.. regtransfers... someone else saw it and offered you more money." So I said, no, that wasn't what happened, and it sold for the same amount of money, to which I got, "hahahaha you just sold it for more money!" So then, being bored of the whole conversation I left it at that, but I did think that it was nice that finally they were managing to string more than two words together in an email! Besides I figured that if it was so important to them why didn't they collect the Golf sooner? I checked their location and they're only just over 30 miles from me, so why not collect it sooner, and more importantly, who has got it now? The other thing that puzzles me is that the winning bidder told me that they only wanted it for the number plate as it was worth more than the car:-

Well there it is, can anyone tell me what's so special about it, and is it really worth more than the £820 that the car sold for? I mean, sure if you were called Matthew Jason Harris, or Margaret Joanne Hogg, or something else with those three initials I can see that you may be interested in that plate, but for anyone else... Really it's just pointless,just an average numberplate. So anyway, if you were the lovely couple who bought my Golf, I hope you're enjoying it, and I apologise for my behavior. Oh, and fair play to you guys for having the nerve to try that little stunt, and buy it out from under somebody else!

So anyway. Moving away for a moment about how dull I thought the Golf was, what else can I tell you about it? Well I purchased it with 79,366 miles on the odometer, and when who ever drove away with it the odometer was rolling over to 80,893 miles, which means that I covered 1527 miles, and some of it was even with the roof down and the sun reflecting off my bald head! In those miles I manged to burn through £215 worth of petroleum spirit which equates to 189.04 litres, or more correctly, 41.58 UK Gallons. This means that I was getting about 36.72 MPG, which isn't as great as I'd hoped for, but it's good enough I guess.

What else? Well, if you don't get the 'Golf thing' as I didn't, I am certainly not going to try to convince you otherwise. I still don't get it, but thats not to say that it was a bad car, it wasn't, I just feel the same way about it as I do about the white appliances in my kitchen. They all do the job quite well, but I never feel the need to say to anyone, Ooh, check out my Fridge-Freezer, which is pretty much how I felt about the Golf, it's a good appliance, but that is all. Other things, well, for a change I'll start at the back. The boot was too small, now I know I should've allowed for that with it being a convertible and all that, but...

For a car called "GOLF" I should've thought I would've been able to get all my Golf bats in the boot! Inside the car was an ok place to be, my two little Monsters said they were comfortable enough in the back with the roof up, but when it was down they complained that it was far too blustery. Having said that surely this being a convertible it's all part of the 'wind in your hair' experience, and in all honesty they should think themselves lucky that unlike me, they still have some.

Up front the seats were also ok, but after a long journey of a couple of hours or more I did start to feel quite uncomfortable in them, but for short journeys, or just blasting around town they were comfortable enough. The dash though... Now, is it just me, or is that one of the blandest dashboards you've ever seen? This is my point about it being like white goods, it does what you want it to do, but with no frills, no added bonuses, no fanfare!! This is a cabriolet, it should be special, and maybe even a bit exciting, but it just isn't.

Even this I felt was a bit lack-lustre and half-arsed! I mean in the Ford Street Ka atleast they bothered to fit a sill plate which was polished aluminium in order to add a bit of glitz to their little convertible. Talking of being a convertible I will say this for it however, with the roof up you genuinely wouldn't know you're in a convertible when your driving along. I had the pleasure, if you can call it that of driving it in the pouring rain with a howling wind, or as we here in England refer to it, the Summer. But with the roof up it was fairly quiet, probably quieter than a tin top car. It was warm, it was dry, and it wasn't draughty, and there was very little wind noise. This was good, and to be fair, it was probably marginally better to my previous convertibles, the Street Ka, and a 1978 VW Beetle, but in fairness to both of them, they were warm, dry, and not draughty, but they wern't as quiet. This being said my 2003 Beetle Cabriolet was probably the quietest of the bunch with the roof up, although still not as quiet as Mrs Clints Focus Cc.

So, on to the engine.

Being a 2.0 you could be forgiven for thinking that you could have quite the little powerhouse on your hands, but no.! Because you've got to remember that this is a 114 horsey power naturally aspirated eight valve engine, as fitted to the 'lesser' grocery-getter type golfs, and not some 3.2 Litre 237 horsey power twenty four valve engine fitted to the R32, although I'll bet there's one out there somewhere, and I'll bet that thing can move! Still, the 2.0 litre eight valver performed avaragely, and although wasn't overly inspring to drive it never wanted for power under normal driving conditions.

Finally on to the exterior of the car, like the Mk2 Golf, Volkswagen did not make a convertible version of the Mk4 Golf. They just face-lifted the front bumper, wings, grille, and hood to resemble Mk4 Golf styling but to fit a Mk3 chassis instead. The rear also received a redesigned bumper with the number plate moved from the hatch and a Mk4 handle with a larger VW emblem above it in order to resemble the rear of a Mk4 Golf. They also managed to incorporate some other Mk4 parts as well such as the indicator repeaters on the wings, headlights, door mirrors, rear number plate lights, and so on...

It has to be said, that although it was just a refreshing of the Mk3 Golf, it's not an ugly car by any means. Infact either with the roof up, or roof down it is quite inoffensive on the eyes, and it does have a face that you could live with. But, and this is a big but because I like bit butts and I cannot lie... Ahem, anyway, it's not the best looking car out there is it? Sure, it's pretty inoffensive, and easy on the eye, but we go back to the whole Kitchen Appliances idea again, you know it does the job, you might even know it does the job well. But do you care? Do you ever look at it and think thats a superb thing, I'm so glad it's mine. Sadly the answer for me atleast was no.

I can't help feeling that if you were buying this thing new back in 2001 you would've been happy, you would've thought you done well buying such a fine piece of German engineering. And this would would've been great right up until the point that you pulled up at a set of traffic lights and someone pulled up along side you in a Vauxhall Astra convertible, or a Renault Megane convertible. Sadly I think that even the Rover 416 Convertible and the Ford Escort convertible were better looking. Plus, you can bet that both the Ford and the Rover offerings had more toys, and were probably cheaper to buy. So why would you have bought a Golf in the first place? Well, for me I reckon that it's all down to very cleaver marketing by VW. It's been ingrained into our culture from the very beginning that Golfs are good, probably due to the fact that it's pretty much folklore that Beetles are cool. Because Beetles are cool, it has followed on that the follow up act from Volkwagen, the Golf must also be cool too, and people like cool things, and like to think that they're in with the cool kids. So they buy the Golf, because it's still a VW, but it's newer than the Beetle, and for a lot of people newer = better, so, newer, better cooler!

Plus of course the Golf caters for all, there's the standard Golf, for Granny, the GTi for the boy racer, The Estate for the family man, the Cabriolet for the young woman about town, and now of course there's the R32, for the boy racer who never grew up. Plus inititially there was also the very cool Caddy, for the workforce! So VW had cleverly catered for all, and this surely is one of the reasons for the love of the Golf, as it's everymans (or womans) car.

For me however, I never did love it, and I doubt I ever would. It was ok, but I've driven more interesting, and more inspiring cars this year. The funny thing is that I've owned a 2003 Beetle Cabriolet, which is essentially the same car in a pretty party frock, but I loved that car, and would gladly have another one. But sadly I still don't get the Golf thing, and my guess is that I never will, and thats just fine, because it would be a dull old world if we all loved the same thing, especially if the same thing was that we all loved Golfs. Of course this isn't to say that I will never have another Golf, Volkswagen still make them, and so at some point I may well find myself behind the wheel of a Golf again, and to be fair I would have to say that I am glad I had one. Because I believe that their are certain 'landmark' cars that if you are any kind of car enthusiast you should try to own atleast once in your life. The Beetle is one of those cars, and so is the Golf. And although I was utterly uninspired by the Golf I would have another one, but it would have to be either a Mk1 Cabriolet, an original GTi, or maybe and I can hardly believe I'm going to say this as I reckon it would probably be as dull as ditch water, but maybe an estate for Mrs Clint, but whatever you do don't tell her! But for now we'll have to see, it probably won't be this year, but if one turned up cheaply enough, then who knows, I could take another drive into blandville!!

Now then, I'd expect that by now there will be a few of you Golfers out there right now who have thrown their clubs onto the ground with despair and are now crying into your Pringle jumpers and tammyshanter hats. Probably exclaiming that I don't know what the heck I'm talking about, and that I should try driving a 'well sorted' Golf. To be honest, you're right, and I couldn't agree more, a well sorted Golf would be a heck of a lot better than just a standard Golf. But that being said a 'well sorted' anything will always be better than the standard version. I remember years ago when I was the Pilot of a very nice, but standard XR4i one of my friends had a 'well sorted' Lada estate (Which looked stone cold stock!) He was quite the engineer, and quite the mechanic and had fitted said Lada with the engine and running gear from a 2.8 Capri. It wasn't just fast, it was terrifyingly fast, and it even handled well too. No matter what I tried I couldn't catch it... EVER! But, when this Lada was in standard form, it was a bit of a joke, I could pretty much catch it on my Yamaha DT125, and this is my point, once it's been 'well sorted' it changes the character of the car, so you can't really compare it to the standard car. Which would've defeated the object because as I said at the beginning I wanted to experience what an average Golf was like, so I could try and understand the attraction of owning a Golf.

Before I had Volkwagens other landmark car, the Beetle I didn't get that either, Like the Golf I really couldn't see what all the fuss was about. However after I bought my 1978 Beetle Cabriolet, I found that I thoroughly enjoyed my spell as a Beetle owner. It was great even though I owned it through the winter, and drove it in all the conditions that the English winter climate could throw at it! After owning my Beetle I could see how they get under your skin, it was a great car, I enjoyed it a lot, and I wondered if I ever did get around to buying a Golf would I would feel the same way about that as I did about the Beetle sadly this was not to be. This leaves me, sadly in the same position as I was when I collected the Golf little over a month ago, GOLF's, I just don't get it! (still).