2005 Volkswagen Golf tdi SE 1.9 td from UK and Ireland
Very competent, soulless?
Not many miles under the belt yet, but its been excellent so far. A lease car from work, I needed something sensible, reliable, practical, cheap on fuel, maybe with a nod towards 'coolness' after the birth of our first baby.
If you ignore the 'cool' bit, its been all of those things. It looks quite nice in metallic grey, bit anonymous, but its got a bit of presence. I wish I'd specced bigger wheels, the lines of so many modern cars seem to look all wrong when you stick anything less than 16 inch rims in the arches.
The cabin is a nice place to be, well laid out, but steering wheel located radio controls should be standard. The steering wheel itself has a pretty horrid plasticky feel and your hands can slip now and then. The seats are very supportive and 300 mile journeys have been comfortable although you seem to sit 'on' rather than 'in' them. The controls are nicely weighted and I understand why people like that solid german feel to them.
To drive, the Golf does everything with little fuss. The engine does well considering it is the old VAG 1.9 tdi. Lots of torque as you'd expect and with 103bhp, doesn't feel much slower than my old 155bhp Alfa 156. Its not fast 0-60 of course, its all in the gears, but it feels relaxed and long-legged, loping along at quite pace if you want. When stationary, it has huge shove for joining moving traffic at a roundabout for example, the last car I drove with this instant go was an Impreza. If I'm completely honest though, I wish I'd got a quote for the new 2.0 tdi, and cruising at 90mph, the engine sounds a bit coarse without being too noisy. Easy 50-55 mpg though.
The handling is safe and I haven't really got it to lose grip yet even in the wet. Traction control and ESP unobtrusively help me out there I suspect. It doesn't feel quite as 'planted' as my Mum's Focus though and the nose dives too much if you give the brakes a light dab at speed, although they are strong and there's plenty of feel in then pedal. Its hardly outrageous 'fun' and feels ungainly changing direction sharply compared to my old Alfa, even if raw mechanical grip might let it corner more quickly. However, on the whole, the chassis does a fabulous job in what feels like quite a solid & heavy car, with a heavy lump of diesel engine in the front.
The steering is light, but could do with more feel and the gearbox is clunky, but easy and gear-changes are swift.
There's a fair amount of kit in the SE although not enough to make you feel special. Not sure if it's a big enough improvement on the base 'S' to command the asking price, particularly as air con is now standard on the lowlier model.
No reliability problems as yet, but one design issue is a bit annoying. When its raining, at speeds of 40 mph+ water pools between the drivers wiper and the 'A' pillar which is already quite wide. The result is up to 8 inches obstruction of your view. Anyone else found this? The thick pillars (A & B) may help the strength of the car, but you have to bob around quite a lot to ensure you haven't lost a car/cyclist in them.
To sum up, it's been an excellent car so far, a faithfull servant and a great all rounder. It feels like its going to go on and on and is very relaxing on long journeys. Fuel economy is brilliant too. The price for all this calm, sensible, rational, German excellence? Its a bit dull...
Happily the Alfa Romeo is still on the drive as my wife's car!
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Don't Know
Review Date: 7th November, 2005
25th Nov 2005, 07:49
A good review. I own a Polo TDI which has the exact same 1.9TDI engine as yours except it has 130bhp and 6-speed gearbox. After owning VW's all my life I bought the Polo so that my girlfriend could get insured on it as my old Corrado VR6 was a no-no for a new driver. Although the Polo goes like stink and is about as quick as my old Corrado it feels dull and soulless compared to it, but I guess this is how all modern day cars are becoming. I am now desperately saving for another Corrado or perhaps a MK1 GTI!!