There’s nothing better than open-topped motoring. Whether it’s under the blazing sun in summer with a cool breeze enveloping you as the sky hangs above your head or in the middle of winter, layered in jackets and scarves with the heater keeping you warm. In my little world, there’s never a bad time to be driving a convertible, and unless it’s raining, the roof must always be down.

There’s no shortage of convertibles on the South African market, but one of the latest and surely one of the most iconic, is the new VW Golf Cabrio. Having skipped the 5th generation, this soft-topped version of the Golf 6 is still as Golf as can be, with that added bit of special character.

Being a Golf of course is probably the Cabrio’s best attribute. Timelessly good looking and fastidiously built, the Cabrio is simply a Golf with its metal roof removed. And two doors. And a lower roof line. It’s difficult to comment on the Cabrio in terms of design; we all know what a Golf looks like and those who own normal versions won’t really find any surprises inside or outside with this lifestyle icon.

Perhaps only in the rear legroom department, but with still-decent space in the back this car can still be used for most jobs an ordinary Golf may have been dedicated to. The boot is still large, with a wide-opening lid and no real compromise on loading space, thanks to the fabric roof’s neat and compact folding arrangement. Definitely a thumbs up for practicality.

However, this car will probably be bought by a singleton; someone who wants to responsibly stand out and just have fun no matter where they may be. Good job then that the roof folds away quickly and without fuss. With the large wind deflector in place, open-topped motoring is beautifully comfortable.

Wind intrusion is acceptable – you may disagree if you have long hair – and scuttle shake is minimal, instilling confidence on the road and also going a fair lick in expressing the Golf’s dynamics. Sure, it’s not really a pocket rocket (I’ll reserve that term for the GTI version which arrives early in 2013) but with its two turbocharged engine options and manual or DSG automatic gearboxes, you’re going to have fun.

I tested the baby of the range – the 1.4 TSI Comfortline – which is powered by a 90 kW 1.4-litre turbocharged petrol engine and, in this case, fitted with the seven-speed DSG gearbox. Second only to the 118 kW 1.4 TSI Highline derivative for the moment, it was more than sufficient in most departments. With 200 Nm of torque on hand, driving is effortless and of course, the DSG gearbox is just fantastic.

Fuel efficiency is respectable, VW claims carbon emissions of 147 g/km and average combined fuel economy of 6.3-litres per 100 km. My real-world return of 7.7-litres per 100 km wasn’t at all disappointing and it’s interesting to note that VW claims the manual version to be slightly less economical. Oh how times have changed!

Spec-wise, Comfortline trim means you get a decent amount of cool features as standard, with scope for fancier extras to be fitted – like bi-xenon headlights with their flashy LED daytime running lights, heated sports seats which bring with them leather upholstery, automatic climate control, navigation and parking sensors, amongst others.

Standard equipment does however include 16-inch alloy wheels, tinted glass, rain-sensing wipers, leather detailing, cruise control, an eight-speaker (and very good) audio system with MP3 support, smoked LED tail lights, fog lights all round and, on the safety front, ABS, EBD, ESP, five airbags and automatic roll-over protection.

For R303 600 including a three-year/ 120 000 km warranty and a five-year/ 90 000 km service plan, the Golf Cabriolet might not sound terribly cheap on the face of things, but as four-seat convertibles in this segment go, it’s not bad by any means.

When you consider that the Peugeot 308CC (auto only, R372 900), Renault Mégane CC (manual only, R359 900) and the BMW 120i Convertible auto (R399 842) are all much more expensive than the Golf (even in R345 000 118 kW Highline DSG spec) and that the MINI Cooper Convertible, which basically matches the Golf on price, has two completely useless rear seats, the Golf appears to be quite the bargain.

You may want to argue that the ageing VW Eos is a better competitor to the first three mentioned here and, based on price, it is. But, with its solid folding roof, bulbous bum and resulting compromise on boot space (and a heavier body), I argue that VW has actually just shot themselves in the foot and made the Eos redundant.

Summing up the new Golf Cabriolet then, is simple. All the quality, precision and reliability of a Golf, only with no roof. Why on earth wouldn’t you?

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