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I will say now that the Mark 5 VW Golf has always had a bit of a soft spot in my heart, yes, I know it's a car but I really liked them when they first came out in 2004, even though I was only 14 I've always been into my cars. I blame Dad for that! So when July 2007 finally rolled around and I was hunting for a driving instructor, it was only natural for me to choose one that was using the Mark 5 as their instructor car, I was spoilt i have to say with a 4motion sport, 2.0 litre TDI - with leather interior and Lord knows what else - I told you I'd been spoilt. Thing is when I passed my test 6 months later I couldn't bear to let go - especially when I bought my first car a few weeks later... To go from a brand new golf to a 8 year old Renault Clio it was a bit of a downfall - so when I decided I was having a new car I knew what I was having even if it wasn't exactly the same as I learnt in - it had to be a Golf and after a few weeks of searching - I went to pick up Rex... Pet name for him don't ask!
A Bit about VW
VW was originally founded in 1937 by the Nazi Trade Union, because at the time the car industry in Germany was dominated by luxury models of cars, which were increasingly expensive – and the average German was unable to afford this kind of car. Ferdinand Porsche, yes the very man behind the supercars, was commissioned to build a ‘car for the people.’ The Beetle as we know it now was finally developed and created by Erwin Komenda – the first car designed using a wind tunnel. Surprisingly the reason VW is still around due to the British Armed Forces, commissioning twenty thousand of The Beetle cars to be built due to a shortage of light vehicles, but hundreds were given to personnel, which is how they came to be in this country in the first place. By 1946 the factory was building a thousand cars a year, despite the fact that the factory was in a complete state of disrepair. As time went on the future of the company was very uncertain as the competition was far more popular and their owners were not interesting in helping further VW.
By 1948 however The Beetle had been taken to America and by the sixties due to some clever advertising, and sheer good luck in a way it had begun to sell very well. Between the sixties and now however, the reputation of VW has changed from a relatively small company, to a worldwide company no longer associated with being Nazi made. Now VW’s are seen as a somewhat Premium badge of cars, that also carry a high level of workmanship, and a reputation for being reliable – that and a nice price tag to go with it; in car price and insurance. Obviously we all have our ideas about which cars we like, but it is hard pushed to find someone who doesn’t have a VW favourite somewhere down the line, especially since they have brought out a new and updated Sirocco – who can deny that car is not a good looking one!
Info about the Mark 5
The mark 5 Golf was brought out on a 53 plate, though not officially brought out until the 04 plate car according to Parkers (the online car guide) but I’ve seen 53 plates driving around – until a 59 plate I have seen but it varies in each area depending on what the garages are offering. It is widely known that when a new shape of vehicle is about to come out, that garages do good deals on the older models to get them on the road basically. The mark 5 varies in engine size from a basic 1.4 to a rather sporty 3.2 in the R32 model, in both Petrol and Diesel, but the R32 is only in Petrol form. As with most cars there are varying trim levels, optional extras and the usual bits and pieces that go in any car, so if you are looking for one check out the best specifications and go for one with as many as possible. Think of it as a bargain because normally when bought new the cars cost a fortune and if you can get on with all the toys used, well it’s going to be a bargain! I currently own the 1.6 FSI SE 5 Door version of the lovely Mark 5 in a beautiful black, horrendously filthy at the moment I may add… And that is what my review will be based around – thank you in advance for reading my first attempt at a proper car review!
== The Car! ==
On the Road
So one of the things that the majority of us look at when we are looking to buy a new car is the amount of tax it is going to cost you every year. With many cars now, there are offers on the tax, but when you have a used car you are unlikely to get anything in the way of offers on tax. The problem with the Golf and quite a lot of the larger family hatchback’s, is that the tax is quite expensive, the lowest engine size in the Golf is still £180 a year, and if you dare buy the R32 version after 2006 in top of the range you are looking at £425 for the year. Which is an incredible amount, considering what road tax gets spent on, or rather not spent on but that’s a review for another day! For my 1.6 FSI SE Golf the road tax is £180 which compared to my previous car isn’t too much of an increase from £125 to that really. Other cars in the size range vary, the Focus in a similar engine and trim type is only £155 – but it is all a matter of preference, if you can afford that extra £25 for the car you want then go for it, after all it only is once a year! (Unless you pay 6 months at a time which is far more expensive
Pictures of Volkswagen Golf 1.6 FSI
My Rex :D
in the long run anyway!)
The insurance was the biggest thing for me aside from the price of the car in the first place, as only being twenty car insurers see me as a little pot of gold. Never mind though I loved the car and well I had to have it, until I tried to insure it of course, for a year though I have to say wasn’t too shocking given I only had 2 years no claims at the time and the fact that I’m a student which never bodes well I’m lead to believe – at only £816 if I paid for the whole year in one lump sum. Of course unfortunately I couldn’t afford the year in one go, so I had to go for the pay monthly option which made it to be a long way over a thousand pound, which is a little annoying but tough I guess I wanted my car so I’ve paid my insurance – more than some!
Obviously, the older you are and the more years no claims you have the better your insurance quote will be. I will warn you that as the engine size climbs so does the insurance group, and since the insurance groups have changed, looking now might shock you – but it’s not as bad as it seems on the surface. The 1.6 FSI SE 5 Door that I own is currently insurance group 14, which a year or so ago I would have never considered but since they have been changed it is less likely to break the bank. I think in the old system this was around a group 6 or 7 not entirely sure – but given the difference it looks like a huge jump. As always with your insurance especially on a car like this, get your fully comprehensive insurance, just in case you are unfortunate enough to cause an accident.
Size and Weight
This car is what I would call an average size family car; the hatchback especially is perfectly sized for a small family really – due to the large boot size. Even with the front seats all the way back there is still ample space in the back for my Dad who is over 6 foot, so I would have to say there is plenty of space in this car if you are tall or have lots of friends! Car seats in particular used to be a problem for me in my Clio I have to say but, in the Golf I’ve not had a dash of a problem with a two year old in a car seat, or a new born in a car seat (not mine but another Godchild of mine :D) so if you have small children then I would say there is plenty of space for them in this car!
The actual body size of the car is; 58.2 inches high… 69.3 inches wide…. And 165.5 inches long… Just looking at the measurements it doesn’t look all that big, but rest assured when you have been used to quite a small car it does feel large. Though to be honest I feel now that it’s not that big – it all takes a bit of getting used to, parking the car was a bit of a challenge when I first got it considering it had been a while since I had driven a car this size, but it only took a few days and it was fine. No real reason to be worried about spaces, yes it takes up more space in a car park and you have to be a little more careful when pulling into a narrow space, as you can’t quite see the end of the bonnet from where you are sitting unless you literally look over your steering wheel, which completely makes your perspective wrong! For any man out there that is about to say oh you’re female you can’t park anyway – Shut up!!! (lol)
However the car isn’t the lightest out there, but then again at around a tonne and a half, but then again on a windy day you will be fine sitting and not worrying about your car toppling over – or going round a corner at a high speed feel relaxed in the fact the weight is adding to the stability of the car. Thankfully despite its weight it doesn’t impact on the cars performance all that much, but I will talk about that later on in the review.
Obviously each car has a different interior, depending on what the first owner specified when they bought it. So my interior will be different to the next Mk5 Golf you find in the road, well unless by pure chance they happen to have the same interior!
So, my interior is a really nice royal blue colour for both the seats and the interior door panels, on the seats there is a black pattern that looks like net on the blue of the seat, not as bad as it sounds. The material of both is quite simple and soft, not particularly scratchy at all if you are sitting on it with bare legs or a bare back which I do quite often in the summer. The seats hug you quite nicely actually, which is down to the air bags in the side of the seats – which also makes you feel quite safe in the awful chance that an accident does happen, my car is 5 years old now and it does seem not to have worn too badly either over the time.
Now my favourite part of the interior is the dials, in neon purple they look a bit different! They are very prominent and the digits for speed and rev meter are very clear, so you cannot mistake mph for kmph no matter how hard you try! In the console you also have the digital mile gauge, a mpg gauge, the temperature and the time; you can use the end of the right stalk on the steering wheel, where you can chose either the mpg or a journey clock – I stick with the mpg even though I get addicted to looking at it!
As for the rest of the interior it is all really pretty well places, the handbrake is in a nicely accessible place, not too close to the seat or too close to the passenger, so you don’t end up groping them. (Unless you want to of course.) To the left of the steering wheel controls, is the light controls are sat there instead of being on one of the stalks off the steering wheel, but the full beam is attached to one of the stalks so that’s a slight inconvenience VW! The wiper blades are just as odd in my opinion, you can pick the manual option on the stalk, or you can pick one of the options of how fast it’s wiping your screen, however there is also an option where you can put on a sensor and it decides how often to wipe your screen – that can be regulated too though!
Storage within this car is, well there’s a fair amount apart from the boot space which is rather large – there is also the glove box, of which mine is cooled – which can be altered inside the glove box to your desired temperature. It’s an odd thing to put in a car but it does keep my chocolate and bottles of drink cooler – not like a fridge but cool enough. There are drawers under my front seat, pockets in the back of the seats, and little drawers that I’m sure I’ll still be finding in a years’ time. So put it this way if you are looking for places to hide stuff then you will not be short of space! The cup holders are actually a bit inconvenient, they aren’t deep enough to put a bottle in and if you do you are bashing your arm every time you change gear, or go to put the handbrake on.
The two favourite features of my car, are the electronic wing mirrors that are controlled by a round thing, that looks like a button but isn’t – it also means that you can program the wing mirrors to fold in when you turn the car off… But it is difficult to do that is the one thing that bugged me, VW make it a bit easier!! The lights in the underside of the wing mirrors are another one of my favourites, which light up puddles when you get out of the car and well that does make my driveway look ambient!
Not got a lot to say about the exterior to be honest, its metal, it has lights, a badge, a boot lid and a fuel filler cap. The filler cap of which is on the driver’s side – which is where most cars have theirs, where the largest queue for the petrol station is normally too! Now speaking of the fuel filler cap, it does my head in – because you undo the flap from inside the car, and then unscrew the cap from the inside – so what are you meant to do with your keys VW? Given that you aren’t meant to leave them in your car, so you have to leave them in your pocket just in case you stab yourself when you sit back down – yes I have done that, don’t ask!
I’m not entirely sure why I like the looks of this car so much, it just has a certain something about it, the curves perhaps, or just the modern look it has. For my particular car though, it has to be the combination, of the rear fin (not boy racer-ish I promise,) the bump strips underneath the front lights and the fog lights in the front bumper. When I first saw it sat in the garage at VW I was so impressed with the car looking a bit mean and edgy, I left the garage I had the biggest smile on my face knowing that this car was going to be mine. That’s how much of an effect the mark 5 has had on me over the years, and how badly I wanted one – especially one in black :D
The wheels, and tyres – well it’s the tyres that are more of the problem because the smallest size I have seen is a 15 inch, mine are a 16 inch and given that they aren’t the slimmest tyres in the world. By no means actually the biggest – but they are quite expensive to replace obviously depending on which brand you buy they will vary. Alloys or wheel trims, depends which ones the car comes with obviously – Alloys are great but when you get them all dirty and covered in brake dust they need a clean to be all shiny again.
Ride Quality and Handling
The ride quality of this car is actually quite good; I wasn’t expecting it to feel like I was driving a shed – but given that it is a fairly large car I was quite surprised to feel like I was driving a small car. It doesn’t feel like we were driving a Ford KA which just feels like you are driving half a car, it feels like a smaller car but don’t let it go to your head else you’ll be trying to squeeze it into smaller spaces than it fits! I have taken it out for long and short drives in the time I have had it, and to be honest the ride is pretty good – not once have I come home with a back feeling like it was in a thousand pieces. The 207 in comparison is quite the opposite, it does make you come home and feel like you need to go and lay down for a few hours. The only thing that does get a little achy in this car is the fact that your knees and ankles end up hurting spending all your time on the pedals, but then the car can’t be blamed for that really!
This car and quite a few come with ESP (Electronic Stability Programme,) and I have to say that does make a huge difference if you have it. At the beginning of this year when the roads were still a bit icy and slippery – it was lovely to go out and feel less worried that I would be sliding all over the place, of course I didn’t concentrate any less! When driving around corners I was incredibly impressed with how well the car sticks to the road, I’m a bit of a lover of driving quickly (not over the speed limit of course.) Given the fact that this car has a bit more grunt behind it, and the fact it is wider, with wider tyres it has a better chance of sticking to the road when going round the corner at high speed, compared to a smaller, thinner car with thinner wheels – the Golf is spread across the road a bit more, for more stability, so you don’t feel like you are going to topple over!
Back in 2004 when the car was first released to the public it was given a five star Euro NCAP Rating, and again in 2010 a University in Australia found the Mark 5 to be five out of five in level of safety in passenger protection in the event of an accident. So I have to say I do feel fairly safe in this car, especially as from the inside you can push a button that locks all the doors, and so no one on the exterior can open them. This is useful if you are sat in a bit of a dodgy area, and are feeling a little bit at risk. I’m not too sure about the crumple zones and all of that kind of stuff, so I will not sit here and pretend to know what to say. I just know I feel quite safe in knowing this car once had a five star rating, and with the amount of airbags just in the front of the car, in the event of an accident I think I would be quite safe. Well depending on the accident of course. I’m not too sure about the body work, considering I’ve not actually hit anything in my car – but I haven’t seen many Golf’s about with dints in, unless the people in my area are just very careful with their cars!
Well, by no means is it the slowest car in the world, but then again it’s not the fastest either. The pure fact that it is around a tonne and a half, ensures that it’s not going to be the fastest car in the world with only a 1.6 litre engine in. But by no means is it not going to get you where you’re going in plenty of time, with a top speed of 119mph, you aren’t going to be hanging around. Not that you will be doing that speed, as it is more than 40 miles an hour over the speed limit even on a motor way – nudge nudge, wink wink! 0 – 60 is just ten seconds, in comparison to other models in the range it is quite slow I guess – but it’s really not that slow, not that I thrash my car at all but when you put your foot down off traffic lights and out of junctions it really does plant you in your seat quite nicely. Put it this way, if I don’t drive my car for a few days then go and get into it – it still shocks me now at the acceleration! The car has 113 horsepower, now I’m not going to try and explain it because I don’t get how it works I just know the higher the better… After all the Bugatti Veyron has a thousand horsepower – so in comparison my car is miles away from that standard!
In times of ridiculous petrol prices and a 55 litre petrol tank, economy is a big thing. In my area petrol is £1.30 a litre and I’m sure in other places it is far worse, but at £72 to fill your car it is important it goes a long way. Now I’m not the most economical of drivers I do admit but, on £25 worth of petrol I have managed to do 175 miles… So it’s not too bad I don’t think, around my town, which is full of road works, roundabouts and traffic lights I have averaged 27mpg, and on the longer runs it has been up to 45mpg… So ok it’s not perhaps the most economical car in the world – but it’s not a huge petrol guzzler either. It’s not like you are going to get to Scotland and back on a full tank, but it’s not going to do too badly on long journeys providing you are staying in the same gear, and don’t have to overtake too much… In a way I’m quite lucky as I have a 6-speed gear box which does make things easier, and less revs on the engine when I’m doing national speed limit between roundabouts – not making the engine work so hard and pulling through less fuel!
Service and Maintenance
Through VW you can buy service packages for your 3 – 10 year old car, a minor service is £129 and it has a fair amount of items changed and checked, it will reset your service warning light if it needs doing – but personally I use it before MOT time, to see if anything needs sorting before that. Else a £39 MOT at VW could get very expensive, the service package includes all labour at VAT so you can be rest assured you aren’t going to get slapped with an expensive bill on top of the £129 you have already paid. If you feel like you need a better service package you can get one for £249 but I have to say there isn’t much difference between the two – and if you know someone at your local VW, as I do you can probably get a bit more. There are also deals available at your local dealer, depending on how much your sales person likes you it will vary in price, bartering is also good if you can manage it to get the service and warranty plan you need!
== And Finally…. ==
Now according to Parkers the 1.6 SE FSI on a 55 plate in a 2006 car, through a franchised dealer as mine came from my car should be worth around £6,980. Now I’m not a fan of telling people how much I paid for my car but I will share with you that mine cost me 5,995 – so I feel I may have got a bargain for how much it is estimated to be worth and what I have in my car. There are many different types of this car, so it is best if you look it up yourself – and get an average price if you are looking to sell or to buy your Golf. My car was actually just short of £22,000 when it was first bought and given that I am only the third owner – I think my haggling skills got me a bargain of a car. However in just 5 years for the average base 1.6 SE FSI has dropped from £15,375 to just short of seven thousand so the depreciation has been quite large – but at second hand it will now hold its value if kept in a good condition!
Well we got there eventually, that is what I think about my lovely car… Sorry to have rambled on for so long – didn’t realise I had so much to say about what I do and don’t like about him! Many thanks for reading it!
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