26th June 2004
My Golf Mk V
Whow! What a car. I have had a big grin on my face all day. (Ok - since 2.30pm when it arrived). Now, I've moved from a 1995 car to a 2004 car and so there was bound to be a big difference if design, equipment level, quality, refinement, etc but even so, I am very impressed. It's been a long day but here are my first impressions, quickly noted down.
The car arrived in immaculate condition. It didn't take me long to adjust the seat, find the essential controls, etc without the need to refer to the handbook or essential control guide, both neatly stored in a pocket at the top of the glovebox.
Early on in my first day's 100+ mile travels I had my first surprise. The SE does come with an exterior temperature gauge in a corner of the odometer/trip/clock display panel. The only mention of that in the brochure was on the GT model. Second surprise, my SE did have the useful centre dash top storage tray which the brochure said only appeared on the S model.
The automatic windscreen wipers work very well, accurately predicting when and when not to trigger the wipers and the sensors sensitivity is easily adjustable with the stalk top thumbwheel. The automatic lights function well but I noticed they decided to switch off whilst driving in bright drizzle which I didn't like. (They do warn you about this in the manual. The auto lights is an assistant - not a replacement for driver judgement). The radio-CD player is excellent and sounds great. The GALA (Graduated Auto Level Adjustment?) auto-volume functionality works well and eliminates the need for wheel mounted volume controls.
Interior road noise didn't seem to bother me so much today as when I had my test drive a couple of month ago. Another thing I noticed early on was how big the car felt. I may have had my seat too high but for a while I felt I was driving an MPV. The seats are very comfortable (my passenger commented several times on this matter) and easily adjustable.
Turning to the engine for a while, my 1.9 TDI was plenty quick enough. I didn't want to rev it too high so early on in its life but it felt willing. It's most suited to high-speed cruising. 70mph equates to barely over 2000rpm (from memory). If anything it might be this high gearing which made me have to downshift more often than I had to do in my 1995 Peugeot TD when climbing hills. The Peugeot had a traditional, old, torquey diesel engine where you rarely had to change down. The Golf's engine is more petrol like. I may have to adjust my driving style a little but not significantly.
Another surprise. Apart from metallic paint (Shadow Blue - very nice - several people commented what a nice colour), my only other optional extra was Luxury Pack 1. I had thought this only effectively added electrically foldable door mirrors (which work well but can't fold the mirrors in too much because of the mirror design). However, the surrounding area lighting functionality (which I thought would just use the door mirror indicator lights) instead uses an additional pair of white downlighters. Very nice. And I found these quite sufficient and less obtrusive than the leaving home/coming home function's use of the headlights which I think is too much light when all you're usually doing is parking your car in your drive or in a car park. Oh - and for reference, the lights appear to stay on for about a minute after removing the keys from the ignition.
The climatic air conditioning is pretty much set and forget. By default the air conditioning is used to reduce cabin temperature if required but by pressing the ECON button, this is disabled hence allowing you to save fuel.
Automatically dimming rear view mirror worked fine. The dimming is not sudden but changes quickly but gradually. Big improvement over the old fashioned manually dipping mirrors which resulted in quite a big reduction in rear visibility.
Finally the cruise control worked fine under normal cruising situations and maintained the set speed extremely accurately except when going down steep hills when engine braking isn't sufficient as the system does not apply the brakes.
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