The highs and lows of the precise Golf

The Golf is one of only three cars, the others being the Renault Clio and Opel/Vauxhall Astra, to have been voted European Car of the Year twice, in 1992 and 2013. Courtesy Photo

What you need to know:

  • The Golf is responsive, predictable, and genuinely fun to drive.
  • The hatchback makes the Golf practical, its price tag makes it attainable, and standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto serve act as sweeteners for the younger crowd.

Debuting in Europe in 1974, it has come to be a best seller. In Uganda it was a favourite for many young drivers up until cars such as the Subaru Legacy B4, Toyota Altezza and the venerable Mercedes C-Class changed the game. Golfs are popular simply because of two things, their solid, precise feel on the road and high-quality construction as well as the chance to acquire German engineering at a relatively low price. Available as either a two-door or four-door, the Golf offers a lot of space for passengers and their luggage thanks to its boxy but efficient body style.

Engine
Four-cylinder engines of either 1.8 or 2.0-litre displacement powered most Golfs produced through the ‘90s and early 2000s, with some V6 engines slipping in as special models. While respectable in terms of handling and performance, these Golfs just cannot hold a candle to less exciting, but more reliable and durable rivals from Japan when it came to long-term, trouble-free ownership.
Nonetheless newer Golfs have seen improvement through better reliability without losing their unique and enjoyable German-engineered feel behind the wheel. Though the competition from Asia still sport superior track records for reliability, the Golf still merits consideration from drivers looking for the German consciousness for less strain on the wallet.

What is available in Uganda?
If you are in the market for Golf, the most you will get on the Ugandan market is the 4th Generation and 5th generation versions aka Golf Mk4 and Mk5 respectively with model years from 1999 through 2004 and 2005 through 2009 respectively. The 3rd generation had a number of variants such as the Vento and Golf Estate. However, this seemed like VW’s attempt at other market segments using their best seller’s badge. The Vento was later discontinued though.

Disadvantages
While fun to drive, Golfs are notorious for spotty electrical problems. Everyone who’s owned one will tell you about this. Not many garages and mechanics are fully equipped both in experience and spares for these cars. According to Matovu Edirisa, a weathered car dealer from Second Select, demand for the VW golf has drastically reduced because of preferred alternatives such as the Mercedes S Class and to a lesser extent the cheaper BMW 3 series.

Cost
Most VW Golfs you will come across in most bonds go for between Shs18m and Shs35m with newer models such as the Mk6 (2009 – 2013) going for more than Shs40m. Most Golfs are automatic and use petrol. Generally, many find the Golf to be a likable car to drive. Compared to other similar cars from other manufacturers, the Golf stands out because of its long list of standard features, high-quality interior materials and its generally fun-to-drive nature. Downsides include a high price when new (and unfortunately it largely negated by depreciation), high maintenance costs and mediocre reliability.

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