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Volkswagen Golf 4MOTION 2.0 FSI Car Review | September 29, 2004

Driven September 2004

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What, exactly, is the point of a four-wheel-drive car? During my test drive of the new Golf 4Motion, VW implored me to drive on some snow they'd had specially trucked in from the Austrian mountains and spread around a car park, and, yes, the 4WD system is definitely a bonus in severe winter conditions.

However, this is irrelevant. The real point of 4WD is that it allows cars to feel more secure on even mildly slippery surfaces. This seems to be true for any given car. The Land Rover Defender, for example - even I know that's not a great handling car, but I'm fairly confident it would be even worse with only two wheels being driven.

I'm very pleased to be able to report, from the twisty switchbacks of the Austrian Alps, that the Golf 4Motion is great at corners. I'm notoriously bad at sporty driving and I was overtaking people, so the obvious conclusion is that the car is quite good and, more to the point, easy to drive quickly.

The new 4Motion system is actually a refined and improved version of the old one, which led someone funnier than me to point out that it should probably be called the 4.01Motion system. That allusion to the dark world of computing is a clue to how this thing works. There are diffs and sensors and an electronic brain sorting out where drive should go via something called a Haldex coupling - all forwards, all backwards, to opposite corners, to the wheel with the grip and so on. It's not exactly a mystery, but it is pretty boring. Trust me, it works. During two days of intensive driving I generally forgot that this was an all-wheel-drive car at all, which is exactly my point and possibly even theirs.

Two engines will be available in Britain, the 2.0 TDI diesel and the 2.0 FSI petrol, both with six-speed manual gearboxes. I prefer the petrol. It feels a bit gutless in what has become quite a heavy car, but it revs freely and is simply more exciting to work. Unfortunately for me and my deep prejudice, the diesel is also fast, but I'd still have the petrol, although it's purely personal.

And if I was actually going to buy a Golf, I'd have the 4Motion. It's an extra grand that makes a world of difference to everyday driving. So why they don't simply fit it to all Golfs is a mystery.

Paul Horrel

3.0 TDI SE Fact file:
We say: As boring as any other Golf, but at least you'll get there slightly sooner. Even I was quicker
Price: £19,000 approx.
On your drive for: £545pcm
Performance: 0-62mph in 9.2secs, max speed 129mph, 33.5mpg
Tech: 1984cc four, 4WD, 150bhp, 147lb ft, 1300 kg, 202g/km CO2

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