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Evolution of the Volkswagen Golf

The Volkswagen Golf is unarguably a long-living legend within the hatchback car category. Over 40 years of production and 7 stages of evolution, the Golf has generated an amazing 30 million sales for VW. In fact, it has been one of the key participants in making hatchbacks as wildly popular as they are today. With each revision, VW continued to tweak and refine their Golf whilst still remaining true to the original charterer. Continue reading to find out the key points of the Golf’s fantastic evolution over the last four decades.

Mk1 (1974-1983)

The Golf is born, soon to be the next iconic car from VW since the Beetle. The first generation of Golf was a collaboration of Italian inspired styling with Audi front wheel drive layout. The Mk1 was compact whilst still roomy, using a simple yet effective design.

The car proved highly lovable with a wide range of buyers and as a result had already sold over 1 million units by 1976! To hook in the performance enthusiasts, the sportier GTI model was introduced with a nippy 1.6 108HP engine.

By the end of production the total sales exceeded a whopping 6.7 million.

Mk2 (1983-1991)

The Golf still had a lot to live up to since it was replacing the widely loved Beetle. Although the Mk1 was a real hit it put more pressure on VW when designing the Mk2.

They decided to stick with a similar shape but slightly expanded the dimensions in all directions. For the first time ever advanced driving features such as four-wheel drive, power steering, ABS and catalytic converter system became available on the Golf.

The GTI range was revamped, receiving juicer 1.8 engines with different trims, the highest spec included a powerful supercharged 158HP unit.

Mk 3 (1991-1997)

With the third generation, the Golf grew slightly in size again. Its bodywork featured smoother curves and the wheelbase was largely unchanged from the previous generation.

The GTI line received another growth in engine size up to 2 litre of varying trims. However, the 2.0 8v was disappointingly underwhelming with only 113HP. Luckily VW released a 2.0 16V version with 148HP and an even greater 2.8 VR6 to keep the speed freaks happy.

The new generation included the addition of side airbags, diesel engines and ABS as standard. The Mk3 did well by winning a European car of the Year award in 1992 and selling nearly 5 million units during its life.

Mk4 (1997-2003)

For many early Golf enthusiasts the MK3 was moving away from their ideals. VW took note and tasked their lead designer to address this with the Mk4, bringing the Golf evolution back on track.

The Mk4’s dimensions grew marginally, including the overall length. The base platform was shared between other hatchbacks in the VW group such as the Audi A3 and Seat Leon.

The interior was completely refreshed, it was started to rival far more pricey competitors. The range received totally galvanised bodywork, GPS navigation systems, xenon headlights and advanced Haldex four-wheel drive systems.

The R32 model boasted the highest features including stability control and six-speed gearboxes. GTI models received a increased power from 20V turbocharged engines.

Mk5 (2003-2009)

By this stage the handling of the Golf model had fallen significantly behind their main competitor the Ford Focus. With the Mk5, one of VW’s main aims was upgrade the Golf’s handling capabilities.

A stiff new platform “PQ35” was introduced, providing up to 35% more rigidity than the Mk4. Most importantly, the out-dated torsion bar rear axel design was ditched in favour of modern multi-link suspension.

The optional extras list grew to include rain sensors, a seven-speed gearbox, bi-xenon headlights and even a beautiful sliding glass sunroof.

Performance was greatly increased with the introduction of a staggering 197HP diesel engine! The GTI model took it a step further featuring one of the first twin-charger engines to be seen in production cars.

Mk6 (2008-2012)

The 6th generation of Golf was essentially a re-styled Mk5 but it did well enough to win another European Car of the Year award in 2009.

It was reported that the Mk5’s interior had diminished in quality when compared to the Mk4, so a total interior refurbishment was needed. The bodywork was laser welded for strength and gained five-stars in NCAP crash testing.

The Mk6 boasted improved features such as LED tail-lights, cornering headlights, auto stop and start system and even braking energy recovery functions. The addition of the Bluemotion model saw the use of highly efficient diesel engines.

Mk7 (2012-Present)

Finally, the latest incarnation of Golf was released during 2012. Changes came form an all-new engine range and a vastly improved MQB platform. The engine range even includes a clever 1.4 TSI engine with an efficiency increasing cylinder deactivation feature. Most surprising: the total weight has decreased by 100Kg since the last model, even in spite of a growth in size!

The new goodies include functional touchscreen info systems, multi-collision braking system, XDS advanced differential locking system and an auto assisted parking.

VW Car Warranties

Go Car Warranty offer excellent extended car warranty packages on VW cars, find out more about our VW car warranties.


published: 10/04/2015 09:23:12

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