Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Volkswagen Bora 1.9TDI car review

Auto Trader Ten Point Test rating: 73%

Volkswagen marketed the Bora as a sports saloon, but if you believe the hype you’ll be disappointed.

This isn’t a driver’s car because it doesn’t have the chassis to carry it off – but view this booted Golf as a decently styled small premium saloon and you won’t be disillusioned.

1. Looks 7/10

The Bora isn’t a car to set the pulse racing, but it’s still a handsome machine. Also, while it looks different enough from the Golf, it’s pretty clear that the two cars are related – but it doesn’t simply come across as a three-box edition of VW’s best-selling hatch.

There’s no estate Bora (well there is, but it’s sold as a Golf), so the model comes as a three-box saloon only. Even range-topping 2.8 V6 editions look rather subtle, with bigger wheels and some discreet badging the only clues as to what’s under the bonnet. So buy an entry-level 1.6-litre car and you get pretty much the same looks, for rather less money.

2. Looks inside 7/10

Because the Bora is based on the Golf MkIV, its cabin really is a thing of beauty. Flamboyant design no, but superb quality – yes. While flair is missing as this is a typically teutonic interior, it all works with predictable VW efficiency.

Entry-level cars are as well screwed together as the more costly versions, but it’s not until you move up the range a bit that the cabin feels genuinely well stocked and nicely trimmed – those cheaper models have a bit too much plastic in places, and it doesn’t always look like high-quality plastic.

3. Practicality 7/10

If practicality is equated primarily with space and space efficiency, the Bora scores pretty highly here thanks to the fitment of split-fold rear seats for just about all models. There’s also plenty of headroom on offer, but if you regularly need to transport lots of people of the super-sized variety, you’ll probably find the Bora is a bit of a squeeze. That’s because the rear-seat leg room isn’t especially generous unless the front seats are moved forward, compromising the available comfort for those in the front.

4. Ride and Handling 7/10

Although VW occasionally has flashes of true brilliance, its cars are generally safe dynamically, rather than exciting. That’s how it is with the Bora, which offers a typical mainstream front-wheel drive chassis; understeer when really pushed, but neutral handling unless you’re really pressing on.

Intriguingly, the Bora feels more together than the Golf because of its stronger shell. The addition of a rear bulkhead stiffens things up nicely, which helps to sharpen up the handling but this still isn’t a car for hard-core enthusiasts.

The turn in is fine but the steering is too numb, offering little in the way of feedback. As a result, this isn’t a car for B-road blasts – it’s much more suited to motorway cruising or urban runs, thanks to suspension that soaks up the bumps with reasonable aplomb – as long as you don’t opt for a car with massive wheels and ultra-low profile tyres.

5. Performance 8/10

The 1.9TDi turbodiesel tested here is a familiar unit to VW/Audi fans, as it’s been around since Noah was in short trousers. In 130bhp form it’s a bit peaky and feels a bit old-fashioned compared with the 2.0TDi unit offered later, but it’s still a great engine that offers plenty of torque (228lb ft of it) to make decent progress.

Whether your priority is performance or economy there are powerplants biased towards either end of the spectrum. The engine tested here offers the best compromise, with strong performance allied to decent economy being the order of the day. However, the entry-level 1.6-litre petrol unit is quick enough (it has a 119mph top speed) while also offering fuel economy of around 40mpg.

At the other end of the range is the 2.8 VR6, which is a true roadburner with its 146mph top speed – but you’re also likely to get much more than 25mpg out of it.

6. Running costs 8/10

Once again, the wide choice of powerplants allows you to buy the Bora that best suits your pocket when it comes to running costs. Variable servicing is an option for Bora buyers, and it’s worth having as you can potentially cover more miles between visits to the garage. Without it, a Bora needs attention every 10,000 miles or 12 months.

Predictably, it’s the turbodiesel Boras which are the most frugal; the 110bhp edition offers up to 56.5mpg on the official combined cycle. The 130bhp model tested here will allegedly give up to 51.4mpg, and with careful driving it shouldn’t be hard to realise that figure.

7. Reliability 6/10

Despite VW’s old advertising slogan, don’t assume the Bora will give unfailing reliability. The MkIV Golf hasn’t proved to be a paragon of reliability, with a whole raft of potential faults to look out for. Many revolve around the various powerplants offered, such as the 1.8 20v unit suffering from failed ignition coils, snapped timing belts and broken water pumps.

The TDi units can also suffer from power losses due to dirty oil, a faulty mass air flow sensor, faulty temperature sensors and a temperamental ECU. Even the 1.4 and 1.6-litre petrol engines can suffer from shattered plastic timing belt tensioners, although engines are rarely wrecked from these.

Also watch out for broken window winder mechanisms, waterlogged cabins because of a misaligned water shield cover over the pollen filter, plus failed fans for the heating and ventilation systems.

8. Safety 9/10

Volkswagen has thrown everything in its box at the Bora, in a bid to make it as safe as possible. Not only do all cars come with ESP, twin front airbags, traction control, pre-tensioners for the front seat belts and head restraints for all five seats, but there are also three-point seat belts for all of the car’s occupants.

There’s no EuroNCAP crash test result available, but with a decently stiff bodyshell and all the safety kit mentioned above, there’s every reason to suspect that should the worst happen, the Bora would do a pretty good job of looking after you.

9. Equipment 7/10

The Germans have a reputation for being a bit stingy when it comes to standard equipment, and that’s just the case here. Compared with an equivalent Peugeot or Ford you won’t get much standard kit, but that’s not to say that the Bora is poverty-spec.

Even the entry-level Bora S gets air conditioning, an alarm, remote central locking and electric windows all round. Move to an SE and you can add height-adjustable seats for those in the front, 16” alloy wheels, wood trim inserts, climate control and a CD autochanger along with front foglights and a multi-function steering wheel. With an extensive options list, do some searching and you should be able to track down a really high-spec car where someone has got a bit carried away with the options list.

10. X-Factor 7/10

The Bora is VW’s take on the compact sports saloon, and while it’s got the quality aspect all sewn up, it isn’t dynamically sharp enough to carry things off. See the Bora as a 3-Series alternative and you’ll be missing the point; instead you need to view it as a superior rival to more mainstream small saloons such as the Renault Megane or Ford Focus.

Key facts

Model tested: Volkswagen Bora 1.9TDi PD 130 SE
On the road price: £16,900
Price range: £13,335 – £19,950
Date tested: March 2009
Road tester: Richard Dredge

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Volkswagen Passat CC car review

Auto Trader Ten Point Test rating: 83%

The Volkswagen Passat is a well thought of car, offering plenty of ability in an affordable, reasonably fun to drive and practical package. It does, however lack the style of some of its rivals.

1. Looks
Stunning. Although it's immediately recognisable as a Volkswagen Passat, the CC is longer, wider and lower than the saloon version for a more distinctive appearance. The most radical part of the car's design are its sides, which feature a curving arch between the front and rear windscreen pillars and give the car its sleek looks. Open the doors, and the windows are free from the clutter of frames. While the front is typically Volkswagen, albeit with a bolder grille and badge, the rear is a new departure for VW, with its unusually-shaped light clusters.


2. Looks inside
Volkswagen Passat owners will find some familiarity, in the front at least, with a standard Passat dash being brought up-to-date with some trinkets inspired by the Volkswagen Phaeton luxury saloon. The Passat CC marks a change for Volkswagen, with the trademark blue and red illumination replaced by white lights. The rear houses just two seats, separated by an armrest and storage space, and are very comfortable, and can be heated.


3. Practicality
The Volkswagen Passat CC's boot measures a useful 532 litres; impressive, especially as there's a full-sized spare wheel hidden underneath the carpet. Access is hampered by a small bootlid area – turning the handsome coupe into a hatchback shouldn't have meant sacrificing looks, but would have made it far more practical. Four seats will limit the appeal for some buyers too, and rear headroom in the rear isn't the best, but shoulder and legroom is very good. There's plenty of room in all directions for front seat occupants. And despite the frameless windows, the Passat CC is very refined, free from excessive wind and road noise.


4. Ride and Handling
Despite the Passat CC's flowing lines, it is not a sports car; more a long distance budget GT cruiser. It rides superbly, and buyers can specify the Adaptive Chassis Control, which firms up the suspension through three modes, to turn it into a more focused drivers' car. It lacks the outright driving engagement of the BMW 3 Series or Ford Mondeo, but is still capable of entertaining. The steering is light at low speeds, but adds weight as the speed increases, although it lacks the ultimate level of communication of the best in class. The range-topping GT V6 features Volkswagen's excellent 4Motion four-wheel drive system for added grip.


5. Performance
Three petrol and two diesel engines are available in the Volkswagen Passat CC: a 1.8, 2-litre and 3.6-litre V6 petrol and a pair of 2-litre diesels. The 1.8, 2-litre and 3.6 V6 offer 0-62mph times of 8.6, 7.6 and 5.6 seconds respectively, with top speeds of 138, 147 and 155mph. The diesels – which are both 2-litre engines, producing 140 and 170bhp – cover the same marker in 9.8 and 8.6 seconds, before reaching 130 and 141mph. Volkswagen's excellent DSG semi-automatic gearbox is available on all models.


View our Volkswagen Passat CC slide show

6. Running Costs
The 140bhp 2-litre diesel version we tested returned up to 55mpg on a mixture of fast motorway and congested urban driving. That's almost exactly what Volkswagen claims it to be, and achieved without concentrating on efficient driving. The Passat CC is around £3-4,000 more expensive than the standard saloon model, but all models in the sleek coupe range hold their value better than the saloon and estate versions. Emissions of 153g/km place both diesels in tax band D, which currently costs £144 per year, while emissions of 180, 193 and 242g/km place the petrol engined 1.8, 2-litre and 3.6 in bands E (£170), F (£210) and G (£400) respectively.


7. Reliability
Despite the radically different looks of the Passat CC over the standard car, it shares 55 per cent of parts. That means the technology is proven, and should raise little cause for concern.


8. Safety
The standard Volkswagen Passat scored a full five star rating for adult occupant protection in the EuroNCAP crash tests, and it's likely the Passat CC will score likewise. Standard safety equipment includes ABS with brake assist and brake force distribution, driver, passenger, front side and curtain airbags, ESP and whiplash reducing headrests.


9. Equipment
With Volkswagen's premium pricing comes a good level of standard equipment. The base model features a touch-screen radio with MP3-compatible CD player and a 6 CD autochanger; 17-inch alloys, two zone climate control, electrically operated driver's seat, electrically heated and adjustable door mirrors, an auto-dimming rear view mirror and a cooled glovebox. The GT model adds 18-inch alloys, front fog lights, brushed aluminium dash inserts and Adaptive Chassis Control (see Ride and Handling). The GT V6 model also receives a leather interior, heated front seats and electronic tyre pressure monitoring.


10. X-Factor
The Volkswagen Passat CC takes all that's great about the standard car and puts it in a body which turns heads like few other VWs.


Model tested: Volkswagen Passat CC GT 2-litre CR 140PS 6sp manual
Price as tested: £22,795 (£21,065 - £31,145)
Insurance group as tested: 11E (11E – 18E)
CO2 emissions as tested: 153g/km (Band D, £145)
CO2 emissions range: 153-242g/km
Company car tax %: 21%
EuroNCAP result: N/A
Date tested: September 2008
Road tester: Stuart Milne

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Ten Point Test

Auto Trader Ten Point Test rating: 84%

The Volkswagen Golf GTi is the hot hatch. Over the last three decades, five generations of Golf have continued to grow in every dimension, but its appeal is stronger than ever.

But after a series of disappointing GTis, does the latest model have what it takes to convince the car-buying public the original hot hatch is still the best?

We took to the road to find out.

1. Looks 9/10

Unlike other performance cars, the Golf GTi has never been adorned with big bodykits, with Volkswagen preferring to keep its looks subtle. Only a black honeycomb grille with the GTi’s trademark red edging, deeper front and rear bumpers, chromed exhaust pipes and a GTi badge on the bootlid separate it from lesser models. Golf GTis come with a set of 17-inch alloys as standard, but many buyers go for the tasty optional 18-inch ‘Monza’ alloys like the ones fitted to our test car. The GTi is one of the few cars to look fantastic in white, and the colour scheme proved to be a winner; turning heads on every journey.

2. Looks inside 8/10

Buy a Volkswagen and you know what you’re getting: a quality fit and finish, stylish and tactile black and grey plastics and eyecatching blue and red dials – which are also very easy to read. But because this is the GTi, there’s a host of sporty accoutrements, including a flat-bottomed steering wheel with a chrome GTi band around the bottom spoke and alloy pedals, gearknob and handbrake. Our test car featured the standard tartan check ‘Interlagos’ upholstery which is evocative of the very first GTis. But whether opting for the standard or optional leather seats, they are very supportive and comfortable.

3. Practicality 8/10

Practical doesn’t mean boring. The latest Golfs are incredibly spacious, with plenty of head and leg room for back and front seat passengers. The boot is a captious 350 litres with the rear seats in place, rising to 1,305 litres with them folded. There’s plenty of space for luggage around the cabin too, with a handy mobile phone-sized ashtray and a cubby hole between the front seats.

4. Ride and Handling 10/10

Over the first two generations of Golf GTi, the model became a byword for performance and handling. And despite the Mk5 model we drove weighing considerably more, loaded with comfort and safety features, it still retains the exuberance of its predecessors. The steering is wonderfully direct, responding to the tiniest of inputs through the leather-trimmed steering wheel. There’s just a whiff of bodyroll as the car cuts through low and high speed corners without fuss. In spite of the stiffened suspension and the optional 18-inch wheels with low-profile tyres, the ride quality is excellent, soaking up all but the roughest bumps.

5. Performance 9/10

For many performance is the reason for Golf GTi ownership. And in its Mk5 guise, it doesn’t disappoint. It will despatch the benchmark 0-62mph dash in 7.2 seconds before hitting a top speed of 146mph. Its 197bhp 2-litre, turbocharged powerplant has masses of pulling power, even in sixth gear which makes overtaking and blasting out of corners safe, easy and – most importantly – fun.

6. Running Costs 7/10

At more than £20,000 before you start ticking the options list, the Golf GTi is a lot of money. Even more so when you realise that hot versions of the Golf-based Skoda Octavia and Seat Leon are considerably cheaper. But depreciation isn’t too scary, thanks to the huge demand for them – the Golf is consistently in the top two most searched for cars on Volkswagen says the Golf GTi will cover just over 35mpg, a figure which was confirmed during our time with the car. That’s not bad, considering the performance. There are no fixed service intervals as it is part of the LongLife Service Regime, which varies the service intervals depending how hard the car is driven. Emissions of 189g/km place it in the second highest Band F – currently costing £205 a year. New Golfs come with a three year/60,000 warranty and three year paintwork and 12 year bodywork cover.

7. Reliability 8/10

Golfs have a reputation for build quality and the car we tested was no different. The biggest concern for used buyers is the car’s past – many are thrashed and crashed, so service histories are vital.

8. Safety 9/10

The Golf scored a full five stars in the EuroNCAP crash test programme. All models get ABS with hazard warning lights which automatically flash under emergency braking, driver, passenger, front side and curtain airbags, ESP (electronic stability programme) and traction control. Whiplash reducing headrests are also fitted. The GTi tested here adds ventilated brake discs (to keep them cool under heavy use) and a tyre pressure warning light, which we found to be particularly effective after picking up a nail in the tyre.

9. Equipment 7/10

All models in the Golf range come with the basics, but the GTi features a host of sporty bits and two-zone climate control. They’re in addition to headlights which come on when the car is unlocked, automatic headlights, front fog lamps, a leather steering wheel and cruise control. The sat-nav system complete with a six-CD autochanger fitted to our test car was expensive at £1,845 and the steering wheel-mounted controls for the stereo were an additional £370. It also has the ‘luxury pack 1′ comprising electrically folding wing mirrors, rear reading lights and a passenger side mirror which lowers, allowing the driver to see – and avoid hitting the – kerb when parking. At £110, this seems like good value, if only to avoid scraping those alloy wheels.

10. X-Factor 9/10

While other hot hatches can match the Golf on thrills and price, there’s little comparison in the heritage stakes. You buy a Golf GTi mostly on its abilities, but the evocative badge sells itself.

Key facts

Model tested: Volkswagen Golf GTi 2.0 T-FSI 3dr
On the road price: £20,607
Price range: £12,115 – £26,415
Date tested: May 2007
Road tester: Stuart Milne

My Volkswagen GTI

That's my first post. Here I'll post about places I travel, and more important, news regarding Volkswagen cars.

Hope you enjoy this space and keep visiting me for interesting posts and commenting back. This Blog is reserved for all Volkswagen lovers like me.

Fell free to send me pictures and specifications of your car if you want me to post them to automotive.collares (@)googlemail (dot) com

If you looking for a used Volkswagen car, I'd recommend the Autotrader website.