The evolving icon
The evolving icon
The world’s favourite compact car
Since its introduction in 1974, the Golf has been described as a phenomenon. Now in its 8th generation, the old VW Golf is still a style icon that defies all automotive and social class distinctions. No other car in this price segment has even come close to reaching as large a cross-section of people. A testament to its popularity, approximately every 40 seconds, a person somewhere in the world decides to buy a new Golf.
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1974 - 1983
Creating an icon
1974 - 1983
When it was announced that the iconic Beetle would be replaced, few could have expected its successor to make the impact that it did.
In 1974, Giorgio Giugiaro designed an incredibly angular car, with the nameplate of “Golf”, derived from the German word for Gulf Stream. It broke the mould for Volkswagen, signalling a shift by the carmaker away from rear engine, rear-wheel drive models to front-wheel drive, front engine versatility. It was an instant success and set the standard for the hatch category for generations.
Two years after the Golf’s launch came the birth of a phenomenon in the form of the first GTI, a performance Golf that’s one of the most important popular sports models ever released.
A larger best-seller
1983 - 1991
More rounded and slightly bigger than the MK1, the Golf MK2 continued to provide punchy performance and practicality to a growing legion of fans.
Though none had come close, most of its competitors had imitated Volkswagen’s lead by releasing small, front-wheel drive family hatchbacks to mirror the Golf. For this new edition, ABS brakes, power steering and the first all-wheel drive system were introduced along with a new range of petrol, diesel and powerful turbocharged engines.
It sold 6.3 million units globally over the following 9 years, solidifying its place as one of the world’s favourite and most successful cars.
A new design
1991 - 1997
Immediately receiving a raft of international awards for its exceptional design, the third generation Golf was raising the bar yet again.
It radiated reliability, quality and safety with front airbags and ABS brakes as standard. It was also widely recognised as being a delight to drive with smoother, quieter engines like the VR6, foolproof handling and cruise control.
Though the MK2 was an exceptionally difficult act to follow, the MK3 effortlessly raised the bar and became the pioneer of the stop-start technology used in cars today.
1997 - 2003
This fourth-generation Golf goes upmarket with a higher-quality interior and greater levels of equipment. The new model brings levels of sophistication never seen before from a mainstream brand in its class.
The Golf MK4 was offered with an extensive range of engines, including a 1.9-litre GT TDI version which provided exceptional response with outstanding fuel economy. In 2002 it debuted the exceptional R32, the world’s first production car with a dual-clutch gearbox. Billed as the pinnacle of the Golf MK4 platform, the R32 included every performance, safety and luxury feature Volkswagen had to offer, including an all-new 3.2-litre engine that produced an electrifying 177kW.
By 2005, sales of the model had ceased in most markets, paving the way for its replacement, the Golf MK5, to break even more boundaries.
Coming of age
2003 - 2008
2003 marked the milestone of the Golf becoming the best-selling car from Germany for almost three decades. Much like its predecessors, the Golf MK5 set a new standard for exceptional design, comfort and safety.
Strengthening its position as top of its class, the Golf MK5 led the way in comfort and design. It boasted a range of new features including the four-link suspension rear axle, bi-xenon headlights, rain sensors and a tilting and sliding sunroof. Then it took things up a gear with the first turbocharged direct petrol injection engine in the Golf GTI (2004) as well as the Twincharger (TSI, 2006) featuring turbocharging and supercharging.
Forever evolving, the Golf MK5 also adapted to a broader range of drivers thanks to new body variants, including the 2006 Golf Plus, the CrossGolf and the Golf BlueMotion.
2009 - 2012
Golf GTI MK6
Just a year after the Golf MK6 comes out, it’s crowned “World Car of the Year”.
The fifth-generation pioneered a variety of assistance systems that we still value in today’s models, such as Adaptive Cruise Control, Park Assist, automatic main beam control Light Assist and more. With efficiency at its core, the Golf MK6 improved its drive systems with new TSI engines and cut energy consumption with unit injector technology.
It truly paved the way forward for the Golf’s renowned future-thinking approach to design and efficiency.
2012 - 2019
Following in the tracks of the previous generations, the Golf MK7 had its world premiere in 2012 and became an instant international bestseller. It still holds its place as one of the top three highest-selling Golf generations.
The vehicle cab moves visually to the rear, giving it similar proportions to luxury class vehicles where the bonnet is long, and the cab is very far back. Likewise, the advanced driver assistance systems found in the luxury class, such as multi-collision brake and Front Assist with City Emergency brake, was also introduced to this compact class. And while the overall weight was reduced by 100kg, crash safety was kept at an all-time high.
With sustainability and economic efficiencies in mind, the Golf MK7 sought to change the game with racing, hybrid and electric drive systems.