1994 Volkswagen Cabrio Yearns for Early Spring


From the July 1994 concern of Automotive and Driver.

Guests to the Toofar North will let you know that Michigan’s lengthy winters restrict us to 2 seasons—August and Highway Closed. However there’s an ersatz spring, which means the primary heat registered by uncovered human flesh and thus enough for dropping a convertible’s prime, presum­ing the automobile has a heater scorching sufficient to burst knackwurst.

The brand new Volkswagen Cabrio possesses such a heater (thoughts the toes). Thus we scorching­footed it all the way down to southeast Ohio, the place byways romp by the greening hills, as a result of nothing makes the tootsies hotter and a driver cooler than wheeling a brand new ragtop.

For the surgically exact roofectomy on the Golf, Volkswagen has referred to as once more on the providers of Karmann Coachworks in Osnabrock, Germany. Its newest pop-top arrives 39 years after the famed Beetle Convertible and 16 years after VW’s blocky Rabbit Convertible. The Rabbit model was the one recognized in every single place however right here because the Golf Cabriolet, and its towering bustle gave it the look of a hopalong bunny hutch, perhaps explaining its Amer­ican title. The Rabbit and its lookalike successor, finally referred to as the Cabriolet right here, too, produced sufficient offspring to overrun sunny avenues from West Palm Seashore to Waikiki.

The outdated Golf was not notably willowy, however Volkswagen says the brand new one is 20-percent extra inflexible. Its integral “basket-handle” roll bar will increase rollover safety and torsional rigidity. Stiffness has additionally been added to the ground, sprint, nostril, and tail, bettering dealing with and security and chopping cabin noise. After pounding at size over lumpy again roads, we heard a buzz within the sprint, a touch of resonances extra simply drummed free in early Rabbits and Golfs.

HIGHS: Beefy unity of styling, polished drivetrain, prime that disappears as shortly as a burrito.

The roll bar anchors three-point belts for the motive force and entrance passenger (the rear seat additionally presents three-pointers); twin airbags are fitted as properly. Volkswagen’s security options have produced a convert­ible whose side-impact safety already meets 1997 U.S. security requirements. However the passenger bag eliminates the glovebox and there isn’t any console for tucking away, say, the Hope Diamond. There’s, nonetheless, a regular central­-locking system with alarm. We by no means set off the alarm system, which qualifies it as idiotproof.

VW says the cabin’s dimension—enlarged 11 p.c—makes the Cabriolet “a real 4­-passenger car” (correct if all 4 are common in dimension), including that it gives extra legroom and shoulder area, plus extra headroom for front-seaters, than BMW’s coveted 3-series softtop. Out again, the brand new bodywork has been hol­lowed out for a one-third improve in trunk area. That is excellent news contemplating what an eensy cubbyhole was squeezed into the outdated Cabrio. The present trunk’s usable eight cubic toes is rather more accessible because of a much bigger lid.

Dropping the highest takes much less time than consuming a burrito (scientifically roadside examined), even with out consulting a guide. Though not power-operated, this is among the easiest-lowering tops we have experi­enced. Inside, above every entrance facet win­dow, is a security tab that releases a pull­down lever, which may additionally perform as a grab-handle when the highest is up. These flip down simply to unlatch the roof. If you happen to’ve cycled a lever-action rifle a thousand occasions to clean its motion, you will discover these easy, and the highest drops slick as a greased pig on Teflon (piglets, do not do this at residence). Pull the highest again and fold it down into its storage properly. Take the van­ity booty from the trunk and put the quilt excessive. To take away bulges, tuck the quilt’s tail behind the rear seatback (which will also be folded to permit lengthy baggage). Two small retaining clips with finger-ring releases, like child NASCAR hood pins, preserve the quilt from flapping within the breeze.

LOWS: Minimal energy improve, peekaboo gauges, lone sprint buzz.

Very slick, as anticipated of Karmann’s fussless tops. This one’s six layers, all hand-fitted, are supposed to present “superior insulation from excessive warmth and chilly,” and they need to. The glass rear window, in contrast to plastic backlights, gives a transparent view and good defrosting. Better of all, Kar­mann listened when VW mentioned to make this Cabrio’s prime so it would not tower a lot just like the afterdeck of the USS Structure over the automobile’s dinghy dimensions, à la the earlier Cabriolet.

Now the Cabrio’s silhouette is decrease, wedgier but rounder, much less vertically rec­tangular. Its stance is broader. But even with the highest up, you will discover headroom sufficient for Montana 12-gallon hats (although the buckaroos will not be pining for the VW, there being too little room for lengthy weapons within the again window). The Golf’s energy home windows can all be run absolutely down for open airiness, or as much as create, together with the windshield, a flying cubbyhole in opposition to the weather.

As cell havens go, the VW is hand­somely designed and superbly put collectively. Beauty mark the sprint lay­out and controls—besides that the driving place has perhaps been laid out for brief, extensive of us (sorry, individuals each vertically and horizontally challenged). The pedals are shut, the wheel is considerably far-off, although not off within the north-40 as in pre-­airbag Volkswagen Passats. Nonetheless you set the lean wheel or seat changes (fore, aft, tilt, top, backrest angle), chances are you’ll not discover a actually prime match. If you happen to set the seat for management, chances are you’ll have to dip your head to see, past the wheel, the tops of the speedometer and tach—reported hid­den from as a lot as 40 mph to 100, and 2250 rpm to 5400. And whereas all of us need a cabrio to “convey within the parts,” low solar usually blazes in previous the VW’s tiny visors. (Additionally, the place are our quad visors?) VW’s premium AM/FM/cassette stereo is significantly better than the corporate’s once-tinny choices. It contains CD-ready controls for an non-compulsory distant changer.

What we heard an excessive amount of with prime up and stereo off was tire noise from dangerous roads—no whine however plenty of roar and thump. The suspension remains to be semi-inde­pendent however kitted out with greater wheels and tires, 6.0-inch rims in Goodyear Eagle GA M+S 195/60HR-14s. They dislike truck ruts, jostling as if to say our roads needs to be nearly as good as German ones. Dealing with that feels fantastic when cruising by farmlands feels squishy and divulges bump-steer when pressed more durable by lumpier nation. VW may additionally be utilizing softish suspension to spare the con­vertible construction in the long term, and the Eagle GAs assist the trip. (German automobile corporations are inclined to poo-poo aggressive tires for America’s cruiser-class drivers.) Even so, the Cabrio deftly carves across the skidpad at 0.81 g, and agency and linear anti-lock brakes simply burn off pace. Lowly rear drums companion the entrance discs however assist cease the Cabrio handily from 70 mph in 182 toes, and with out fade.

Main enhancements within the clutch, shifter, and five-speed transaxle (elec­tronically managed four-speed automated non-compulsory) have turned the Golf’s energy supply from balky to silky, particularly its urge for food for heel-and-toe downshifts. The Golf’s 115-horsepower 2.0-liter engine is a considerably revised design, too, however as of late, its single overhead cam makes it one thing of an “underaspirer.” But with simply two valves for every of its 4 cylinders, its torque and smoothness in on a regular basis driving make it really feel virtually as slick as a six. Credit score its lengthy stroke and oodles of engineering in its consumption system. It makes 25 hp greater than the outdated 1.8-liter four-cylinder and, regardless of 400 kilos added to the brand new Cabrio, cuts the 0-to-60 time from 11.6 seconds to 10.3.

If that does not make in the present day’s Cabrio a barn-burner, its simple operating suggests it is as much as greater than warming the spirits and toasting just a few toes. Its really feel improves magazine­ically once you put the highest down: the wind carries away worries, and your temper soars.

VERDICT: A slicker looker­—wants a sucker punch.

With alloys and A/C for lower than 22 grand on the drive-home meter, that is one cab that is simple to take. With a bit extra muscle, it will be arduous to catch.

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1994 Volkswagen Cabrio
Car Sort: front-engine, front-wheel-drive, 2+2-passenger, 2-door convertible


Base/As Examined: $20,365/$21,800
Choices: air con, $850; alloy wheels, $585

SOHC inline-4, iron block and aluminum head, port gasoline injection

Displacement: 121 in3, 1984 cm3

Energy: 115 hp @ 5400 rpm

Torque: 122 lb-ft @ 3200 rpm 

5-speed guide


Suspension, F/R: struts/multilink

Brakes, F/R: 10.1-in vented disc/7.9-in drum

Tires: Goodyear Eagle GA M+S


Wheelbase: 97.4 in

Size: 160.5 in

Width: 66.7 in
Top: 55.1 in

Passenger Quantity, F/R: 51/30 ft3
Trunk Quantity: 8 ft3
Curb Weight: 2790 lb


60 mph: 10.3 sec

1/4-Mile: 17.6 sec @ 77 mph
100 mph: 42.0 sec

Rolling Begin, 5–60 mph: 10.9 sec

Prime Gear, 30–50 mph: 11.3 sec

Prime Gear, 50–70 mph: 14.9 sec

Prime Velocity (drag ltd): 109 mph
Braking, 70–0 mph: 182 ft

Roadholding, 300-ft Skidpad: 0.81 g 


Noticed: 26 mpg

Metropolis/Freeway: 23/30 mpg 



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