In 2005, I bought myself a brand new Renault Clio with only 8 miles on the clock, in which I drove almost 100,000 miles until things started to go wrong with it. So in 2014, I decided to get a new car.
After wandering round various garages I made my way to the Volkswagen dealership in Tunbridge Wells. I wanted to have a test drive a VW Up! I had seen this car on Top Gear when Jeremy Clarkson had driven it across Ukraine and through Chernobyl.
It wasn’t that I had a desire to drive through a potentially highly irradiated area of an Eastern European country, but it was that fact that the Up! was a small, economical car but that the 6ft 5in Clarkson had no difficulty and looked comfortable in the car.
We arrived at the dealership and a test drive was arranged straight away, me driving, the salesman in the passenger seat and Emma in the back. I was impressed with the car and Emma was surprised at how spacious it was in the back. Once back at the dealership, I signed all the paperwork and then had to wait until my shiny new car arrived from Germany.
So for the past three years I have been driving around in an Up!, and it has been a fabulous car, very economical, very reliable, but there was just one downside. The boot. Although it was designed as a two-tier boot it was still extremely small and I was very limited with what I could get into it. Other than that, I loved the car.
The deal was that I paid for the car over three years and at the end of that time I could give the car back to VW, part exchange the car for a new one or pay off the outstanding amount and keep the car. So, because of the small boot I decided that I would upgrade to a larger car and I decided that I would go for a VW Golf. The reason for this was that during the first time that the Up! had gone in for a service, I had been given a Golf as a courtesy car and had been impressed. Also, over the course of the last three years, the military have provided me with various pool cars and hire cars when I have been visiting other Units and teaching on the life support courses and the Golf was still the one that impressed most.
Therefore, a couple of weeks ago, I headed into the dealership and signed all the paperwork for a brand new “66 plate” Black Volkswagen Golf, which I collected on Monday, saying adios to my Up!, which had hit the 30,000 mile mark last Tuesday.
Unfortunately, there was a slight problem when I went to pick the car up in that, on the day that I’d signed all the paperwork, I had also chosen the registration for the car. And armed with this, I arranged the insurance. However, there had been an admin cock-up at the dealership and the car was allocated a different registration number that was one letter different for the one I’d chosen. But VW provided me with free insurance so that I could drive the car away on Monday, which I needed to do.
Having picked the car up on Monday, I then had the opportunity to do bit of driving as I was in Aldershot on Tuesday. The car is really comfortable, a pleasure to drive and the gadgets are all pretty cool as well. I even had a play with the cruise control on my way back from Aldershot.
The only thing that I had discovered is that when I pressed the voice control button, a message came up on the screen informing me that I would need an activation code from my dealership. So I called and was really surprised to be informed that this was not standard, but an extra and the cost of the activation code would be £250!
The voice control is for use with not just phones, but also the navigation system, radio etc, but £250 did seem rather steep! However, I’m glad that I didn’t pay for it, as when I googled VW voice control, the general consensus seemed to be that it wasn’t particularly good at voice recognition.
However, I’m happy with the car and just hope that it’s as reliable as my Up! was.