Draws & drawbacks
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.