Volkswagen Bora Saloon 1999 - 2005

Volkswagen Bora Saloon 1999 - 2005

Review by it
Monday, May 16, 2016


  • Good range of engines available
  • Good to drive with excellent handling
  • Well constructed


  • Lacks the practicality of the Golf it's based on


The Volkswagen Bora is a good all-rounder with smart styling and easily providing enough room to seat a family comfortably. There is a wide range of engines, which may not include as many as the VW Golf it's based upon, but that's no bad thing. The handling is also better than the Golf thanks the added weight from the boot keeping the car firmly planted on the road. With the addition of stiffer suspension the body control is improved and makes the Bora a dream to drive as it feels stable and safe at all times.

Exterior and Interior

The Bora is based on the VW Golf mk4 and that is clearly evident in the body design with the only real difference being the large boot, turning it from a hatchback into a saloon. The interior is spacious and refined with a high attention to detail being evident throughout. The back seats aren't particularly spacious and are better suited for children as legroom is lacking. The front is spacious and all the seats are extremely comfortable and supportive. The Boot is large with 455litres of space which should be large enough for the whole family's luggage for a weekend away. The driving position is good with excellent all round visibility. The adjustable steering wheel and seats will allow you to be able to set up the driving position perfectly for your needs. The Bora comes well equipped as standard with electric windows, fully adjustable steering wheel and drivers seat, air-con, remote tailgate release, electric and heated wing mirrors and central locking. The SE trim adds an upgraded audio system with CD player, rain sensitive windscreen wipers, trip computer, 16 inch alloys, alarm and self dipping review mirror. The sport trim comes with lowered suspension, front fog lights, sports seats, automatic climate control and a walnut gear knob.

Performance and Economy

The 1.6-litre petrol is a good engine for driving around town and short trips on the motorway, but it is the second slowest in the range with only one of the diesel engines being slower. It is the most economical of the petrol engine's coming in with 39mpg. The 2.0-litre is a great engine for cruising and achieves 34mpg, but this engine was always considered the poorest in the range especially considering its size. The 2.3-litre V5 gives offers good mid range power but lacks refinement. It is fairly quick going from 0-60mpg in 8.8 seconds and achieves just under 30mpg. The top of the range 2.8-litre V6 offers more than enough power propelling you from 0-60mph in just over 7 seconds. As you would expect though the fuel efficiency is low with the official figures being 25mpg, but it will more likely be in the lower 20's. The 1.8-litre engine offer an excellent drive combining power and fuel efficiency extremely well. The smaller 147bhp model is quick accelerating from 0-60mph in 8.6 seconds and it still achieves a fairly impressive economy of 35mpg. The larger 175bhp model is even quicker managing 0-60mph in just 7.9 seconds and achieves 32mpg. The diesel engines have proven to be extremely popular and were probably the best diesel engines available at the time they were launched. The smallest engine, the 1.9-litre with 110bhp isn't particularly quick going from 0-60mpg in 10.6 seconds, but it achieves a very respectable 54mpg, more than any other engine in the range. The 115bhp engine isn't worth considering as it is slower and less fuel efficient only achieving 44mpg. All the other diesel engines will achieve more than 50mpg if driven sensibly. The 130bhp model offers a good blend of power and efficiency going from 0-60mph in 9.8 seconds and manages 51mpg. The top of the range diesel engine is a 150bhp engine that achieves 51mpg, the same as the smaller 130bhp engine, but is over a second quicker going from 0-60mph in 8.7 seconds. This is a great engine if you're not too concerned about losing 3mpg as it will provide you with a lot of extra power which makes it a great and exciting car to drive. The insurance costs range between groups 6 and 17 with the 1.6 petrol and 1.9 110bhp diesel engines being the cheapest whilst the more powerful engines such as the 2.3 V5 and 2.8 V6 engines fall into groups 16 and 17 respectively.

Like to Drive

The Bora is based on the Golf and as such the handling aimed to be just as good. In fact the handling has turned out to be better thanks to the large boot that adds the extra weight needed to keep the vehicle firmly planted on the road. The stiffer suspension and better body control also helps to make it handle better than the car it is based upon. The steering feels well weighted and accurate and with the good grip and minimal body roll the Bora feels safe and stable at all times. Admittedly rougher roads may at times get the better of it, but it has perfect handling for the majority of situations.

Faults and Repairs

The Bora has been subjected to several recalls over its life for the suspension, brakes and fuel pump as well as the passenger airbag. There are also several other problems to look out for with the 1.8 and 1.6-litre petrol's being know to throw off their timing belts after 70,000 miles in the which will destroy the engine as a result. The diesel engines have also been known to suffer from sticking turbochargers which will result in a drop in fuel economy and power. A good indicator of this is if there is lots of smoke on startup and under heavy acceleration (although these signs will be common in the diesels anyway). The Bora will need servicing every 12 months or 10,000 miles which is the average for this type of vehicle and although main VW dealers charge higher hourly rates the average repair costs are lower than their rivals.