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Wednesday 18th January 2012


PH FLEET: VW GOLF GTI EDITION 35

A trip to Paris makes Riggers fall fully for the Golf's charms


It is often the fate of overwhelmingly competent cars to be damned with faint praise. At least by those who don't run them on a daily basis. Thus, those who experience cars such as my Golf GTI Edition 35 from the outside, or for only fleeting drives, might draw the conclusion that (whisper it) it's a bit boring.

'filling' shot obligatory for Euro trip report...
'filling' shot obligatory for Euro trip report...
That, although manifestly capable, and possessed of no notable flaws, it's somehow not daring or edgy enough to be appropriate for a true petrolhead.

The Golf GTI Edition 35, then, joins such luminaries as the Ford Mondeo and the BMW 330d as cars that are fashionable to poke fun at in some quarters, but are in actual fact bloody brilliant at doing what they have been designed to do.

And the GTI Edition 35 is bloody brilliant, if fitness for purpose is what defines brilliance. It's fast enough to be fun, but not too fast for its chassis; it's spacious enough for four without being so big as to be unwieldy; and it's classily appointed inside and out without being overly ostentatious (which is ideal for these straitened times, etc).

...as is 'queuing for ferry' image
...as is 'queuing for ferry' image
And I have fallen for it completely. In this job I am lucky enough to get the opportunity to drive all sorts of exotic machinery, and yet whenever I get into the Golf I am never disappointed. If I wish to treat it as a commuting tool it serves perfectly, but if I want to chuck it around then it does so with considerable aplomb.

Its versatility was proven last weekend when it was tasked with taking me, the other half and two friends to Paris for a flying visit to friends. It swallowed all our luggage, elicited no complaints from the back-seat passengers and was as at home barrelling along the autoroute as it was dodging around the traffic and demented scooter-riders of Paris.

Riggers gets excited about a big boat
Riggers gets excited about a big boat
This is thanks in large part to an effective DSG gearbox that makes traffic jams less of a pain on the left foot while being good enough (with judicious use of the paddles and 'S' mode) to amuse during more 'press-on' moments. The only irritating part of the trip, from the point of view of my passengers, was me, as I kept telling anyone who would listen that I'd decided the Golf was 'the best car in the world ever' (a rather big call but, for my personal circumstances and tastes at the moment at least, a valid one).

I also got over-excited by the fact that we sailed on the new-and-massive P&O Spirit of Britain ferry and tried repeatedly to force my fellow travellers to enjoy aniseed balls. The short of it is that if you wish to make a high-speed, four-up continental jaunt, you couldn't do much better than a Golf GTI. Just don't take me with you, as I am clearly a thoroughly irritating travelling companion.

'Arty' shot an excuse to avoid unloading
'Arty' shot an excuse to avoid unloading
But despite my over-enthusiasm for the car, it isn't quite perfect when I try hard and put a bit of an objective head on. It could do with sipping a wee bit less petrol, for a start.

I haven't tried 'proper' measurement of the car's fuel consumption, but even the trip computer (which you sense may be a touch Pro-VW) doesn't really ever tip into anything better than 30mpg. That's not too bad when, like me, your previous ride has been an Infiniti that manages 25mpg on a good day, but it's still short of the 35mpg that VW claims as a combined figure...

The other minor niggle concerns those darn winter tyres that, despite the recent cold snap, have spent most of their time outside of their optimum operating conditions (ie when the ambient temperature is above 7 degrees, which it has been for most of my time with the car so far). This is as much a surprisingly warm winter's fault as it is the Dunlop SP Winter Sport 4Ds' problem, but I am looking forward to getting the full-fat 18-inch wheels on the car for the first time.

Other than those two niggles, it's the best car in the world...


FACT SHEET
Car:
 2011 VW Golf GTI Edition 35
Run by: Riggers
On fleet since: December 2011
Mileage: 7000 miles
List price new: £31,030 (inc. £1770 infotainment pack and £440 for parking sensors front and rear)
Last month at a glance: It's been too warm for winter tyres, but Paris trip was a triumph


Previous report:
Golf GTI Edition 35 arrives, complete with wintry rubber



Author: Riggers