Durable, reliable, good-value hatch

Charl Wilken

Volkswagen Golf has built up a reputation as a very competent range of hatchbacks that deserves the credit it's received over the past 20 years.

The Golf 1 range has gone through numerous face-lifts to become what we now know as the Chico. The Chico might not be nearly as modern and sophisticated as many current entry-level vehicles, but it's durable, reliable and requires only low-cost maintenance.

These Golfs are still very capable little vehicles. They offer good value for money, being priced below most of the more modern entry-level hatches of similar size on the market today.

I n 2004 the Chico received an all-new front dashboard with a completely redesigned instrument cluster that made it appear more modern than before. It's just a pity that the exterior styling stayed unchanged and therefore still looks quite boring.

The Chico's power comes from VW's reliable 1400cc power plant, which is simple in design and still has carburettors. The engine pumps out 54kW and 108Nm of torque, which compares well with the Chico's main competitors such as the Toyota Tazz.

The chassis and bodywork of the Chico are far lighter than those of most of its competitors, providing a better power-to-weight ratio.

On the negative side, the older body shell has poor aerodynamics and therefore the little Chico barely reaches a top speed of a 160kmh and takes a full 13 seconds to reach 100kmh.

Mechanically the vehicle appeared to be sound and replacement parts are really cheap. The five-speed manual gearbox shifts sweetly.

Though the Chico does not have power steering it proved easy to park, and discs on the front and drums in the rear provide more than adequate stopping power.

At only R62000, this Golf definitely ensures good all-round value for money.

Contact Buks at Auto Pedigree on 011-454-3556.