Shed Of The Week: VW Golf Mk5


The devoted Shedman has to get used to the idea of owning the oldest car in the car park. Shed's grubby old Mk 4 Golf always falls into this category. He pretends he enjoys the sight of it rubbing shoulders with the Astons and AMGs at his local country club, sometimes quite literally if he's in a hurry, but of course the sad truth is that he would quite like to upgrade to something newer.


Unfortunately, Mk 5 Golfs have so far been beyond his self-imposed £1000 budget. Well, the ones that he would tolerate owning anyway. Until now, anyway, with the appearance of this dirty 2.0 GT FSI.

The Mk 5 Golf technically came out in 2003, but it didn't reach British VW showrooms until early 2004. The FSI (stands for 'fuel stratified injection', VW's common-rail direct injection system) petrol engines were designed to offer an economically-minded petrol alternative to the diesels that were dominant back then. Eeeh, how things have changed, or are changing at least.

Even the humble 115hp 1.6 FSI - traditionally one of the two laughing stock Golf engines, along with the petrol 1.4 - was a very decent little car for its time, giving the Focus and Megane a bloody nose in a 2003 Autocar group test, despite its nasty-sounding combination of low torque and a reluctance to rev.

The 150hp 2.0 was a step above the 1.6 in power, refinement and top gear cruising ability, even if it wasn't the most exciting engine ever made. It had 8-second 0-60 potential but lacked the turbo thrust of the old 1.8T. Its thirst for petrol will help you lose whatever you've gained on the low purchase price, and it could be quite picky on fuel quality, with head and lambda probe problems cropping up if you didn't give it at least an occasional drink of 99 RON. 


Funnily enough, later 'twincharger' 1.4 TSIs were known for developing a knock and perhaps piston failure if they weren't run on the right quality of petrol. Makes you wonder what might have happened if someone important had decided to conduct an investigation of some sort back in the day.

There remains a more than sneaking suspicion that the Mk 4 was more solidly constructed than the 5. Shed's personal 4 is quietly ticking towards 200,000 miles and is showing no signs of giving up any time soon, whereas the 5s he's sampled have given an impression of being relatively insubstantial (cheaper rhino-grain cabin plastics not helping there). You see quite a few Mk 5s with rusty arches, probably more than you get with the Mk 4, which is a bit shocking. They say it starts off with wet soundproofing material rubbing on the inner arches.

The reality is that every successive new Golf has been measurably superior to its predecessor in every area, especially safety, but also in handling with the 5 over the 4 thanks to its 80 per cent stiffer body and adoption of multi-link rear suspension. It's undoubtedly also true however that VW cut a few corners with the Mk5.

Early cars had an issue with badly-fitting or badly-sealing doors. There was a big problem with ESP system failure that initially could cost upwards of £1,500 to sort. Volkswagen did put out a much cheaper repair kit to deal with it.


There were quite a few electrical issues though, including hyperactive rain and headlight sensors, malfunctioning climate and audio controls, radiator fan and coil failures, and ECU failure as a result of water ingress through the pollen filter. Trim was often rattly. Malfunctioning fuel pumps could create a scary power loss.

What about this particular car? Well, it's got leather and a towbar, which by the sounds of it might be better off on the front of the car rather than the back. Shed is taking the view that if the car has gotten this far it's probably had the full gamut of problems and they've all been sorted.

It looks like it hasn't been cleaned since the last service, which appears to have taken place in autumn 2015, around 16,000 miles ago. A few quid spent on cleaning products and a box of hoover bags could result in something you would feel less guilty about scraping down the side of a premium German motor.

Here's the ad.

Adjustable Steering Column/Wheel - Rake/Reach, Air Bag Driver, Air Bag Passenger, Air Bag Side - Front Side/Front & Rear Curtain, Alarm, Alloy Wheels - 16in, Anti-Lock Brakes, Body Coloured Bumpers, CD Autochanger/Armrest/Rear Cup Holders, Central Door Locking - Remote, Centre Rear Seat Belt, Chassis - Sport, Climate Control, Computer - Driver Information System, Computer, Cup Holder, Electric Windows - Front/Rear, Electronic Stability Programme, External Temperature Display, Extra Storage, Front Fog Lights, Gear Knob Leather, HeaHead Light Sensor, Head Restraints - Front/Rear, Immobiliser, In Car Entertainment - Radio/CD, Interior Finishes, Interior Lights, Leather Upholstery, Limited Slip Differential, Metallic Paint, Mirrors External - Electric/Heated, Mirrors Internal - Automatic Dimming Rear View, Power Socket, Power-Assisted Steering, Rain Sensor, Rear Wash/Wipe - Rear, Seat - ISOFIX Anchorage Point - Two Seats - Rear, Seat Height Adjustment - Driver/Passenger, Seat Lumbar Support - Driver/Passenger, Seating Capacity . THIS GOLF CAME TO US IN PART EX IT HAS GOT A GOOD SERVICE HISTORY AND BOTH KEY'S,THE MOT IS UNTIL 12TH AUGUST,IT HAS FULL LEATHER WITH HEATED SEATS,IT HAS 6 CD CHANGER,THE CAR HAS GOOD TYRE'S AND DRIVES VERY WELL,ANY TEST OR INSPECTION WELCOME THE CAR IS A PART EX TO CLEAR BARGAIN FIRST COME FIRST SERVE AND DOES NOT QUALIFY FOR THE WARRANTY OFFER, ESTABLISHED 27 YEARS SALES SERVICING FINANCE CAN ADD A 15 MONTH WARRANTY FOR ONLY £199 AND WE DO NOT CHARGE ANY ADMIN FEE'S THE PRICE YOU SEE IS THE PRICE YOU PAY NO HIDDEN EXTRA'S

 

P.H. O'meter

Join the PH rating wars with your marks out of 10 for the article (Your ratings will be shown in your profile if you have one!)

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7
  • 8
  • 9
  • 10
Rate this article

Comments (82) Join the discussion on the forum

  • MIDangerfield 16 Jun 2017

    Didn't see that coming! Guess it's easy to forget how old some of these are now.

  • SidewaysSi 16 Jun 2017

    LSD aswell. Is that a Quaife unit?

  • Mike335i 16 Jun 2017

    Does this really have a limited slip differential? A lot of car for the money though. This could be a great shed, if not an exciting one.

  • BeastieBoy73 16 Jun 2017

    The issue of rust on the front wings goes right across the VW range of that era.

    VW do have a 12 year bodywork warranty and have just replaced both front wings on my 08 Passat with no fuss at all.

  • daemon 16 Jun 2017

    A £20 headlight restorer kit from the like of 3M or Autoglym would bring those headlight up like new

View all comments in the forums Make a comment