Draws & draw­backs

Car Mechanics (UK) - - Cm Project -

The Golf MKV ar­rived in late 2003, with UK sales be­gin­ning in 2004. An all-new de­sign with in­de­pen­dent rear sus­pen­sion, it was a neat evo­lu­tion of the MKIV and, af­ter a slow start, sold very well. The MKV was based on the PQ35 plat­form that was also used by the sec­ond-gen­er­a­tion Audi TT, A3 and Oc­tavia Mk2, as well as the first-gen­er­a­tion Tiguan and Scirocco, plus var­i­ous SEATS and Sko­das such as the Yeti, Altea and Leon Mk2. The PQ35 was also the ba­sis of the Golf MKVI, it­self ba­si­cally a facelifted MKV.

The GTI MKIV was a bit of a damp squib in many ways, with the TDI and V5 mod­els go­ing some way to oust­ing it. Base 115bhp mod­els were near enough use­less as per­for­mance cars, and while the MKIV was much bet­ter built than the MKIII, VW needed to pull a cracker out of the bag with the MKV to re­in­state the Golf as a mar­ket leader.

Which is what they did. With a 197bhp tur­bocharged 2.0-litre petrol en­gine, a su­perb chas­sis and great build qual­ity, the new GTI was again the king of the hot hatches and mo­tor­ing writ­ers raved about it. Driv­ing this 11-yearold ex­am­ple, it’s easy to see why.

A choice of three or five doors, plus the op­tion of DSG over the stan­dard six-speed man­ual, were the only op­tions of note be­cause air­con and elec­tric win­dows were stan­dard, along with a de­cent CD player. Leather trim was pop­u­lar, but many own­ers went with the stan­dard tar­tan cloth.

VWS have a rep­u­ta­tion for re­li­a­bil­ity that’s not al­ways jus­ti­fied, with the main draw­backs be­ing silly elec­tri­cal faults, cor­ro­sion is­sues and en­gine prob­lems re­sult­ing from ever-tight­en­ing emis­sions reg­u­la­tions and es­sen­tial cost-cut­ting. The Epc/trac­tion light fault is fairly com­mon and can ei­ther be an easy fix or a real pain to deal with – it could be a sen­sor, a pump or some dodgy wiring.

The en­gine is a strong unit pro­vided it has reg­u­lar oil changes and is driven sym­pa­thet­i­cally. Un­for­tu­nately, at this price point, too many of them are now in the hands of driv­ers who will just cane them till they break. They can be remapped, of course, but we’d avoid do­ing this – the stan­dard car is fast enough.

Rusty wings are com­mon­place on Golfs and we know why – Pas­sats, Audis and some other VAG cars are prone to this as well. For some rea­son, VAG fit­ted a shaped chunk of foam be­tween the arch liner and the front wing, prob­a­bly to damp out a bit of noise. This has the draw­back of suck­ing up mois­ture and it rots the wing out at the top of the arch. VW have a 12-year anti-rust war­ranty that we will be in­ves­ti­gat­ing – will our lack of his­tory scup­per this? As long as the paint is orig­i­nal – they test this – then VW will ap­par­ently re­place a rusty wing free of charge and we’d hope they bin that stupid foam as well.

Look­ing at our Golf, we can see that the foam is fit­ted on the pas­sen­ger side but it’s miss­ing on the driver’s wing, which leads us to sus­pect it has most likely been re­placed. Given that you can buy a painted wing from ebay for less than £200, it won’t be the end of the world if we have to re­place the pas­sen­ger one. We will be cov­er­ing wing re­place­ment in de­tail in a fu­ture in­stal­ment.

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