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Most production of the Golf has been in the 3-door hatchback style. 5-door hatchback, station wagon (estate/Variant) and convertible (Cabrio) variants have also been available, as well as a sedan based on the Golf (see the Volkswagen Jetta). They have existed everywhere between basic personal cars and high-performance sports coupés. In fact, the success of the Golf popularized the use of the hatchback in the C segment of cars and started the entire golf class.
The Golf is a historically important automobile, as it has been in continuous production from 1974 to the present day and is a pioneering example of a hot hatch. The Golf was also a crucial model for Volkswagen itself; by the early 1970s, the company was in serious financial trouble. Beetle sales were in terminal decline, and car buyers increasingly turned away from Volkswagen's air-cooled, rear-engined models. The Type 3 and Type 4 failed to attract any interest, whilst the NSU-developed K70 was an unmitigated disaster. The savior of the German car giant came in the form of Auto Union, which owned the famous Audi brand. Volkswagen had acquired the Ingolstadt Company in 1964 from Daimler-Benz, and crucially gained access to Audi's expertise in water-cooled engines and front wheel drive, which were needed to produce a new generation of Volkswagens. The Golf was the central product of this new strategy.
See Wikicars' comprehensive Volkswagen Golf Review.
- Volkswagen adds a new trim package in late December 2010 called the Golf STYLE. The STYLE special editions, limited only to Germany, of the Polo come with a money-saving options package that includes light-alloy wheels, fog lamps, tinted side and rear windows and STYLE badging. Anther package, the STYLE-Plus, also adds a sunroof or panorama roof as well as new set of alloys. The Volkswagen Golf STYLE is priced starting at €18,825 in Germany - an advantage of €2,335 over buying the options separately. The STYLE-Plus package saves consumers up to €865. The STYLE packages are also available on the Golf Plus and Golf wagon variants and can be had with most engine and trim levels. VW is also offering financing specials on the packages.
- Starting 2011, Volkswagen will begin to offer Volkswagen RNS Navi Lock on the Golf, Passat and Passat CC to curb the recent rash of SatNav theft in the Netherlands. The system locks a large metal plate over the entire navigation system, theoretically obscuring the hardware and making it more difficult to steal in the process. The system costs €219.
- Beginning 2011, Volkswagen will be offering the same LED DRL-infused headlamps found in the facelifted 2011 Eos in the Golf. So far limited only to European consumers, the option will cost €1,310 in Germany.
- Hot on the heels of the sixth generation Golf, Volkswagen announced the Golf BlueMotion Diesel Concept. Significantly, utilizing no more than a low displacement Diesel engine, low-rolling resistance tires, a remapped gearbox and minor aerodynamic improvements, the Golf BlueMotion returns a combined European cycle of 62 mpg (the Prius returns 54 mpg) and a scant 99 g/km of CO2. 
- On August of 2008, Volkswagen unveiled the sixth generation of the Golf on the internet, though Volkswagen will not 'officially' unveil the car until the 2008 Paris Motor Show in October of that year. Predictably, as of this writing, information is scarce but what is known is that the new 2009 Golf will be wider than the outgoing model and will feature styling reminiscent of the Volkswagen Scirocco and taillamps suspiciously similar to ones found on the Touareg. The new car's styling (which is penned by Klaus Bischoff) is more 'evolutionary' than 'revolutionary'. Underhood, the new Golf will feature a range of 2 Diesel (1.9-liter and 2.0-liter TDI) and 3 Petrol (1.4-liter TSI, 1.8-liter and 2.0-liter TFSI) burning engines. BTW, the first UK example of the new Golf will be auctioned of for charity by the London Press Club Ball on October 15, 2008. All proceeds from the auction will go to the “Journalists' Charity”, which is a UK charity organization for all journalists in need. 
- The 2006 Golf is currently in the process of being phased out and replaced by the return of the Volkswagen Rabbit, which is essentially the same car with a different name. The 2007 Rabbit will be built from the new Mk V platform and will include a larger, more powerful engine in addition to its cosmetic updates.
Styles and Major Options
The 2006 Golf is available in 3 trims: the GL 2.0, the GLS 2.0, and the GLS TDI. The GL and GLS 2.0 are powered by a 4-cylinder, 2.0-L 115-hp engine, while the GLS TDI is equipped with a 4-cylinder, 1.9-L 110-hp diesel engine. What the TDI lacks in significant power it more than makes up for with its superb gas mileage (37/44 mpg). However, because the diesel engine is less popular in North America, the TDI was only produced in limited numbers, and therefore it may be difficult to track one down.
With the exception of heated seats, heated wiper jets, and mud flaps (all optional), the availability of all features both standard and optional are virtually identical across all three trims. Some of these features are listed below:
- Power door locks, windows, trunk hatch, and gas flap
- 15" silver alloy wheels (steel for the GL)
- Cargo cover and tie-downs
- Premium AM/FM stereo with in-dash CD
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|GL 2.0-L||GLS 2.0-L||GLS TDI|
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As seen on the FuelEconomy.gov website, the City/Highway MPG averages are as follows:
| 1.9-L Diesel|
| 1.9-L Diesel|
Engine and Transmission
The India bound Volkswagen Golf is expected to be powered by a 2.0L diesel engine that develops a top power of 170bhp at 4200rpm and a top torque of 350Nm at 1750 to 2500rpm. This TDI engine is mated to a six speed manual gearbox for better power delivery. However, you can also get optional 6 speed automatic transmission with the model. This car is considered as fuel efficient and the best performer on road. The stylish four wheeler covers 0-100 kmph in just 8.1 seconds, you can speed up to 220 kmph.
Golf variants built in South Africa are known to have quality a bit behind German standards so therefore, there had been some bad reliability reports. These include Mk IV and Vs destined for the Australian market but as the current generation Golf is now sourced from Germany, quality and reliability will improve.
- RECALL ALERT: On Dec 15, 2010 Volkswagen launched a recall affecting 228,236 Golf, Jetta sedan, Jetta Sportwagen, New Beetle and Rabbit models, manufactured between 2006 and 2010, due to the possibility that the Golf, Jetta sedan, Jetta Sportwagen may have a small plastic tab on the windshield washer fluid reservoir that may chafe against a fuel supply line. The safety recall is expected to begin on or before January 31, 2011. The German manufacturer can be contacted at 1-800-822-8987.
The Volkswagen Golf has received excellent safety ratings from the NHTSA, earning 5/5 stars in front impact test and 4/5 stars in side impact tests consistently since 2000. These are some of the safety features included or available for the Golf:
- 4-wheel Anti-lock braking system
- Available Electronic Stability Control (ESC)
- Front, side, and side curtain airbags
- Front and rear anti-roll bars
- Side impact bars
- Seatbelt pretensioners
Golf Estate Exclusive
The Golf is available in the following colors. Combinations may vary based on trim:
- Blue Anthracite
- Candy White
- Indigo Blue
- Reflex Silver
- Nissan Micra
- Hyundai Getz
- Mitsubishi Colt
- Toyota Yaris
- Honda Fit/Jazz
- Tata Indica
- Hyundai i20
- Chevrolet Aveo
There are currently no hybrid models of the Golf.
The automatic DSG equipped 90 TSI and 118 TSI model Golfs with fuel consumption of 6.2L/100 km are the most fuel efficient small car available in Australia.
This section should include information on the interior's design, build quality, ergonomics, space (head and legroom, front and rear), features, stowage compartments and overall comfortability and livability. Add pictures wherever applicable and keep information in a third-person point of view.
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|Year X||Year X-2||Year X-3||Year X-4|
Please make sure NOT to use copyrighted pictures.
Current Generation: Mk VI (2009-present)
The 2009 Rabbit features a 5 cylinder engine with Tiptronic 6 speed automatic transmission that can be set to sport mode which allows for longer RPM runs before shifting gears. The sport mode also aggressively down shifts to keep the engine in the power band. Alternatively a manual mode is available which allows the driver to shift gears up and down as with a F1 car (sequentially).
The base radio is OK at best, however the premium sound system is highly recommended. Like the Monsoon system of previous marks, the premium sound system incorporates high end speakers with a much more fidelic head unit.
Turning radius on this car is absolutely fantastic. The stock suspension and geometry setup is perfect for that sporty feeling or emergency manouver. Five cylinder exhaust sound is impressive, yet quite.
Fifth Generation: Mk V(2003 - 2008)
The fifth generation Golf was unveiled at the Frankfurt Motor Show in October of 2003 and went on sale in Europe one month later. It was not released in the United States until January of 2006, however, and then only in GTI form through the spring of 2006. For the presentation of the new Golf, Wolfsburg was renamed to Golfsburg for a week. Before the North American launch of the Golf (early summer of 2006), Volkswagen of America announced on April 12, 2006, that they have decided to change the name of the Golf and return the Rabbit nameplate to the lineup for the US and Canadian markets. It continues to be the Golf in the rest of the world. (Speculation is that Volkswagen of America returned to the Rabbit name to attract attention from automotive writers who otherwise would not have bothered with a base VW model already available in Europe for 32 months, while other observers have suggested the move is an admission of what marketers realized in 1975 - that the Golf name was too esoteric for North American customers.) Volkswagen of America is promoting the new Rabbit's low price and the fact that it is built in Wolfsburg rather than in Latin American VW plants.
Design and engineering
While the interior quality of the previous model startled rivals and led most of them to up their game in revised/replacement models, the astonishing chassis and all round ability of the Mk I Ford Focus startled Volkswagen (and indeed other rivals). In order to counter criticisms of the average dynamics of the previous model, it is widely reputed that Volkswagen poached from Ford the engineering team who designed the multi-link 'control blade' rear suspension system of the Ford Focus, widely regarded as the class benchmark for ride and handling. Indeed, the rear suspension of Golf V (a modified wishbone arrangement) bears an uncanny resemblance to that of the Focus.
The suspension changes, along with careful tuning of the chassis, led to the Mk V Golf delivering road manners which challenged the Ford Focus, and although the chassis ability was only just short of the Focus', the overall ability of the rest of the car led to the Mk V Golf being the best car in its class until the Mk 2 Ford Focus arrived in 2004.
The bulletproof interior quality of the previous generation appears to have been lost, and although still of a very high standard and ahead of other rivals the Golf no longer matches its in-house rival, the Audi A3. Many believe the reason for this step back in quality, also seen in the Mk V Passat of 2005, is to allow daylight between the marketing and price positioning of Audi and Volkswagen products. The previous generation Volkswagens were on a par with their Audi cousins.
Options for engines and transmissions vary from country to country, but the Golf is available in petrol 4-cylinder and a new PD diesel unit-injector turbo direct injection engine. Transmission options include manual, automatic, Tiptronic, and direct shift gearbox (DSG). US and Canadian-spec Rabbits will use the same 150 hp five-cylinder gasoline engine that powers the Jetta and New Beetle in these markets. North American transmission choices will include a 5-speed manual or 6-speed automatic with Tiptronic. All of the Golf's engines, including the VR6, have the engine mounting points in the same place, making it possible to remove one engine and replace it with another while making few other modifications to the car.
Mk V Jetta
A saloon version of the Mk V Golf was spawned in 2004 and, as with previous incarnations of the Golf, it maintained its own identity, a practice long abandoned by most rivals. While the Jetta name has always remained in North America the name made a welcome return to Europe, Volkswagen choosing to abandon the Bora handle of the previous Golf saloon.
As with its predecessor the Jetta featured unique front wings and rear doors, but the front doors were also unique so the only external panel shared with the Golf was the bonnet. As with all Golf saloons, the Jetta featured a unique grille which is only shared with the contenporary Golf R32 (although the GLi variant has the Golf GTi's front end). Unlike all previous saloon variants however, the front lights were now shared with the Golf.
As with the previous Jetta/Bora, Volkswagen is again trying to market the car as a rival to mainstream cars from the class above, such as the Ford Mondeo and Vauxhall/Opel/Holden/Chevrolet Vectra, leaving the Passat to compete against the premium marques. The smaller Jetta, though, is still a Golf saloon whose true rivals are the Ford Focus, Vauxhall/Holden/Opel Astra, etc.
In December 2004, Volkswagen announced the Golf Plus variant of the Golf V. It is taller than the standard Golf, but shorter than the Touran, the MPV version of the Golf. The Plus would replace the Variant station wagon in the Golf lineup, although a Variant may yet be released.
There will be no convertible version of the Golf V, as the Eos coupé-convertible (to be introduced in Spring 2006) will be marketed as a separate model and the New Beetle convertible makes a droptop Golf redundant. The Eos does not share body panels with any other Volkswagen model, although it is based on the Jetta/Golf platform.
Golf Variant (Jetta Wagon) Gallery
Mk V Golf Gallery
The Golf V GTI is hailed as a return-to-form for the progenitor of the genre. The Golf GTI features a 2.0 litre turbocharged inline 4-cylinder engine with FSI (Fuel Stratified Injection) direct-injection technology, which produces 200 bhp. It is available in both 3-door and 5-door hatchback body shapes, and comes with a choice of either 6-speed manual, or a 6-speed automatic DSG gearbox. The concept GTI was first shown to the public at the Frankfurt Motor Show in 2003. The first production model was initially unveiled at the Mondial de l'Automobile in Paris in September 2004 and went on sale around the world shortly thereafter. At the Los Angeles Auto Show in January, 2006 the GTI made its long awaited North American debut in 3-door guise.
In late September 2005, the R32 went on sale in Europe. It features a 3.2 L V6 FSI engine with 250 hp (184 kW) and reaches a top speed of 250 km/h. Going from 0 to 100 km/h will take a brisk 6.5 s, reduced to 6.2 s with the direct-shift gearbox. As with the previous R32; there is 4MOTION all wheel drive through 18" Zolder 20-spoke alloy wheels. Stopping the R32 comes in the form of blue-painted brake calipers with 345 mm discs at the front and 310 mm disks at the rear.
After much speculation, information on the Golf R36, the Golf V's high-end flagship, began to leak in April 2006. It will get the 3.6 litre V6 engine from the Passat, and cost around £1,500 more than the R32. With 19-inch rims based on the Lamborghini Gallardo's, it is expected to race from 0 to 60 in 6 seconds. It keeps the R32's 4MOTION, but suspension changes are expected to make it more driver-focused, and less refined. A March 2007 launch is expected.
In September 2005, the Golf V GT was announced, which featured a 1.4 L engine in a new and impressive Twin-Charger configuration. This new TSI engine is based on the recent FSI, but with a pair of chargers forcing the induction of the air. The chargers are a single supercharger that disengages after a specified rev-range, at which point charging of the air is handled by a single turbocharger. This system could benefit from both of the efficiency of the supercharger in the lower rev ranges, with the longevity of the turbocharger higher in the rev range. This results in no turbo lag and provides good fuel efficiency due to its small size, but the same power as a naturally aspirated 2.2 litre engine.
The inital American ad campaign for the GTI featured the "fast", which Volkswagen says is the feeling and force inside you that likes driving and encourages your driving passion, with the tagline "Make friends with your fast". However, recently those ads were replaced with a series of ads starring Peter Stormare as a "German engineer" hired to "un-pimp ze auto" by taking tuner cars and smashing them, giving their owners a GTI instead. The slogan for the campaign is "Pre-tuned by German engineers", however it has been Stomare's lines of "VDub: representing Deutschland!" and "V-Dub: German, engineering, in da haus!", delivered with a stilted German accent and coupled with a "VDub" hand motion, that have popularized the ads.
In may of 2007, hot on the heels of the Volkswagen Golf GTI W12 650 concept, Volkswagen released the VW Golf GTI Pirelli. A euro-market only special edition of the GTI in conjunction with the Italian tire manufacturer and the second generation of the nameplate after the 1983 original. It is powered by a 230-horsepower version of the 2.0 TFSI four-cylinder and many bespoke touches include an embossed tread pattern on the microfiber-covered primary seating surfaces, contrast stitching on the leather trim adorning the seats, steering wheel, and shift boot, Pirelli badging, and the tire company's P-Zero 18" wheels. In addition, the Sunflower finish seen above is exclusive to the Pirelli.
Golf GT Sport
On May 25, 2007, Volkswagen introduced its Golf GT Sport variant of the Golf model. It is intended to slot under the high-performance GTI and R32 variants.
Fourth Generation: Mk IV (1997 - 2003)
Launched in 1997 the Golf IV was the latest version of Volkswagen iconic model, and it became the biggest selling car in Europe at one point. It was a deliberate attempt to take the Golf further upmarket, with a high-quality interior and higher equipment levels. Overall the level of maturity of the design and its target audience were also evident — the humorous plays on the game of golf which resulted in special edition models of the three earlier generations being called "Golf Ryder", "Golf Driver", not to mention the GTI's "golf ball" gearlever knob were dropped, and replaced with a more subtly styled golf ball knob.
Design and engineering
As with the Mk 4 Passat the year before, the Golf Mk IV was a very significant car in its class. As with its big brother, not only was it the first step of VW moving its products upmarket to plug a gap between the mainstream machines and the premium cars, with SEAT and Skoda taking over as the "mainstream" brands; it also brought in a new level of interior quality and sophistication never seen before from a mainstream brand in the class. In fact, the quality of the Golf was on a par with its sister Audi A3 from the year before. Although costing slightly more than its rivals, the price difference showed when it came to luxury and upmarket feel. Rivals launched beforehand now appeared cheap, while, famously, Ford engineers and designers were so far advanced with the yet-to-be-launched Mk I Focus, they were unable to react to the Golf, and could only make minor changes to the Focus' interior, which Ford initially felt would be ahead of rivals.
However, the advent of the Mk IV Golf meant that many mainstream rivals in the class had to raise their game with interior quality to the point where there are now virtually no differences in quality levels between some mainstream and premium cars in the class. Only the budget brands in the class have not raised their game, but this is reflected in their prices. More telling, though, is that the quality of the Mk IV was not repeated 100% in its replacement.
The latest model remained faithful to the Golf concept but included some of the new 'arched' styling themes first seen on the Mk IV Passat. The overall effect was considered to be far more pleasing than the previous model.
However, the upgrade of the vehicle's interior materials and exterior details appeared to have been done at the expense of the vehicle's chassis, which was average. Although the ride and handling was inferior to that of the Mk IV Vauxhall Astra/Mk II Opel Astra the average dynamics were reasonably well concealed in daily driving, though, and the car's reputation was unscathed until the Ford Focus was launched a year later. The chassis ability of the Ford was to have a profound effect on the Mk IV Golf's replacement.
As with the Golf II, a convertible version of the Golf IV was never made. Instead, the Golf III Cabrio was facelifted to give it the frontal styling of the Golf IV hatchbacks.
Volkswagen Bora/Mk IV Volkswagen Jetta
A saloon version of the Mk IV Golf was spawned. As with previous incarnations of the Golf, it had its own identity, and this time was called the Volkswagen Bora, although the name Jetta remained in North America. Unlike its predecessors, however, the Bora/Jetta featured unique rear doors, front wings and bonnet. The front doors were the only body panels shared with the Golf. The interior, though, was identical to the Golf, featuring none of the very minor styling changes found on its predecessor.
The Golf IV was made in Germany, South Africa, Slovakia, Brazil, Mexico and Belgium. The Golf IV was also made in Bosnia and Herzegovina, in Vogošća (near Sarajevo) in TAS, where Mk.I and Mk.II models were also made. This Bosnian Mk.IV was for local market only. As of June 2006, it is still being made in Brazil.
Engine choices included 1.4, 1.6, 1.8, 2.3, 2.8 and 3.2 L gasoline engines, and a torquey 1.9 L turbodiesel, with power ranging from 68 to 150 PS (50 to 110 kW). A choice of three and five-door hatchbacks or a five-door station wagon was available. The European Golf wagon was not identical to the North American Jetta wagon; the Golf wagon is shorter than the American Jetta wagon due to North American bumper requirements (changes in 2003).
The Golf IV was introduced to North America in mid 1999. Available engines for the Golf at its introduction to the American market were a 2.0 L gasoline engine, and a thrifty (48mpg) 1.9 L turbocharged diesel TDI engine. The latter soon developed a reputation for good low-speed torque and fuel economy, and can operate on alternative biofuels. A 1.8 L turbocharged gas engine was introduced in 2000, along with the 12-valve 2.8 L VR6. The 2.0 L gasoline engine was the base engine in the sportier GTI only as a 1999.5 model. For 2000, Volkswagen opted for the relatively new 1.8 L turbocharged gasoline engine as a base engine for the GTI. The top-of-the-line GLX model was equipped with Volkswagen's torquey 2.8 L VR6, which put out an impressive 174 hp. The VR6 engine, with its narrow 15-degree camshaft design, was unique to Volkswagen. This engine is lighter than other V6 engines, which is benefits the handling characteristics of this front-wheel drive car. In 2003, Volkswagen introduced a 24-valve version of its VR6 engine. This engine had the same torque characteristics of the older 12-valve version, with an extra 26 hp. This engine featured the first 6-speed manual available in the MK IV platform. The 1.8T and VR6 models continued until 2005, when the MK IV platform came to an end. Leftover Golfs were sold in North America as 2006 models in anticipation of its fifth-generation successor.
Australian models were available in 2.0 petrol (GL/GLE) and 1.8 turbo (1.8T GTi) versions only, all five-door.
In 2002, a special Golf GTI 337 Edition, based on the European 25th Anniversary Edition GTI, was officially introduced at the New York Auto Show and eventually made its way in limited quantity (1,500 units in the U.S. and 250 in Canada) to the North American market the same year. It was named after a code name given to the Golf model during its development in the early 1970’s and came equipped with a sporty package, including a 180-hp engine, 18” wheels, a lower ride height, and a body kit, among others.
The very next year, Volkswagen of America released yet another GTI, this one to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the GTI’s North American debut. The concept drew inspiration from the success of the European 25th anniversary edition GTI, which was introduced in 2001. It was aptly named the 20th Anniversary Edition GTI, and 4000 were shipped to the U.S. while 200 went to Canada.
Because the original North American GTI was known as the Rabbit, the 20th Anniversary Edition GTI reflected this history in subtle ways, such as throwback red lettering and a vintage chrome rabbit logo. It came with a variety of standard features, including a sports package similar to the GTI 337, a sunroof, aluminum trim, and a golf ball shift knob. Mechanically, however, this model was not dissimilar to the GTI 1.8T GLS with the exception of adding a 6 speed manual transmission.
Golf R32 (2003, Europe; 2004, North America)
In 2003 Volkswagen produced the Golf R32 in Europe. Again, due to unexpected popularity, Volkswagen (through Volkswagen of America) decided to sell the car in North America (except Canada) as the 2004 Volkswagen R32. Billed as the pinnacle of the Golf IV platform, the R32 included every performance, safety, and luxury feature VW had to offer including the all new 3.2 L VR6 engine producing 240 hp, AWD, a new 6-speed manual transmission, independent rear suspension, automatic climate control, sport seats from Koenig, 18" OZ Aristo wheels, ESP, massive (334 mm) brakes, sunroof, and model specific bodywork.
The R32 was given it's own distinct visuals from the other special edition GTIs with more aggressive one piece bumpers, side skirts and a dual exit exhaust. The R32 shared the vast majority of its major components with the 3.2 L Audi TT, most notably, the engine, all wheel drive system, and both front and rear suspension geometries. Five thousand cars were produced and intended to be sold over a 2-year period. Each car was sold just 13 months later.
This was a venture put out by Volkswagen which was considered to be a corporate gamble. Volkswagen surprisingly sold all 5,000 R32s in America with little marketing and advertising.
The Golf R32's competitors (at the time of production) were the Subaru Impreza WRX STi and the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution VIII, although, unlike these cars, the R32 was not run by Volkswagen in rally competitions, and lacked the playstation appeal and ultimate status as those cars. Instead of the boy-racer, go-fast approach of the competition, VW focused on the stability and drivability in everyday conditions.
The R32 remains the quickest car Volkswagen has imported to the U.S. Capable of 60 mph in only 5.8 seconds, and clearing the 1/4 mile in only 14.1 (@99.2 mph), it edges out its sportiest sibling (the Phaeton W12 - 420 PS) by a tenth of a second by the 1320 foot mark.
It also has a surprisingly high resale and used-car value; the Kelley Blue Book used car retail price (the price an individual might expect to pay for one from a dealer) for a model in excellent condition with low mileage actually exceeds the original retail price of the car in many cases, making it one of a few recent cars that have actually approached an increase in value over time. This premium can be explained mostly due to scarcity, both of the cars themselves due to low production and importation, and especially of ones that have not been driven particularly hard.
Third Generation: Mk III (1991–1996)
The third-generation Golf was launched in November of 1991, although it did not appear in North America until the spring of 1993. The delay in North America was due to Volkswagen's decision to supply U.S. and Canadian dealerships with Mark III Golfs (and Mark III Jettas) from the VW plant in Puebla, Mexico. Quality control problems led Volkswagen of America to reject Golfs and Jettas from Mexico; shortly thereafter, labor unrest at the plant delayed the car's North American introduction even further. The third-generation Golf and Jetta finally made it to North America, first as 1993 models in the San Diego, California area, then in the fall in the rest of North America as 1994 models. Three-door Golfs of this generation were mostly only available in North America in GTI form.The third-generation Golf was elected Car of the Year in 1992, and for the first time a station wagon derivative was produced. The GTI variants (especially with the straight-four 4 cylinder engine) are considered to be the poorest of the performance Golfs, with significantly increased weight, but with minimal power increases. A "best of breed" VR6 variant exists which was available in a well regarded "Highline" trim, and the convertible version was called the Cabrio. When a 16-valve version of the third-generation Golf GTI was introduced in 1993, it too was greeted with a muted sense of disenchantment with the motoring press.
The Golf MkIII was also the predecessor of the diesel craze that swept through Europe in the late 1990s and early 2000s, when Volkswagen introduced the direct-injection system in the Golf TDI in 1996. At 110 PS (81 kW/108 hp) for a 1.9 L engine, it wasn't the first diesel engine installed in a road car to achieve over 50 hp/L, but it showed the public that diesel engines could be powered without losing their fuel efficiency, while also retaining massive amounts of low-end torque, in the TDI's case, 235 N·m (173 lbf·ft) at 1900 rpm.
During the 1990s, Volkswagen sponsored three high-profile rock bands' European tours, and issued a special-edition Golf, with distinctive exterior markings, for each: the Golf Pink Floyd Edition (1994), the Golf Rolling Stones Edition (1995), and the Golf Bon Jovi Edition (1996).
In 1996 Volkswagen produced a limited 1000 special-edition 3-door '20th Anniversary' GTI's. These had the usual GTI specification but came with a sportier exterior (highlighted down to the brake calipers in red) as well as interior. Of the thousand, 600 of them were 8-valve models, 250 TDI models, and 150 16-valve models. The diesel models, however, were available everywhere in Europe except the UK.
As with the Mark I and Mark II, the Mark III would remain available in North America for a year after it was discontinued in Europe.
Mk III Special Editions
Second Generation: Mk II (1983–1991)
The second-generation Golf was launched in 1983 (launched in North America in 1985) and featured a larger bodyshell and a wider range of engine options, including a GTD (In euro markets, using the 1.6 'umwelt' diesel engine), a DOHC 1781 cc (1.8) 16-valve version of the straight-four GTI (as well as the tried and tested 1781 cc (1.8) 8v GTI), the supercharged 8v "G60" with 2wd and 4wd options, and a racing homologated variant of this, the "Rallye".
This Golf was marketed for the first time with that name in the United States and Canada. The Rabbit name used on the Mark I was meant to give the car a cuddly image, but with the eighties redesign of the car, Carl Hahn, the former Volkswagen of America president and now chairman of the entire Volkswagen company, dictated that Volkswagen model names be standardized globally. James Fuller, head of the Volkswagen brand in North America, concurred in using the Golf name to stress the car's Teutonic character. The GTI continued to be sold as a trim level of the Golf in Europe, but in North America it was (and contiunes to be) marketed as a separate model line.supercharger was combined with the 16-valve GTI engine, mated to a sports transmission and Syncro four wheel drive mechanism. All of these special edition models came in black, with four doors (except two in three door), a plain two-headlight grille (not the usual GTI four headlights) and a unique blue grille detail (not red, as the GTI) and motorsport badges. It is rumored that two models were produced with air conditioning. In 1989, these cars cost in the region of £25,000 each and were primarily sold to VAG executives and management, although a few exist in Britain as of 2005. These cars produced 212 bhp, making them the most powerful VW Golfs produced until the introduction of the MKIV Golf R32 in 2003.
There was also a version called Golf Country, designed for light off-road driving. It had more suspension travel, four-wheel drive, bullbars (generally over a single headlight grill), a skidplate for protecting the engine area, and a spare wheel mounted externally on the back. In Europe it was offered with the acclaimed 114 bhp 1.8 8v petrol engine, and in smaller numbers, the 75 hp 1.6 GTD turbo diesel engine. The Golf Country was particularly popular in Alpine regions in central Europe.
During the life of the Golf II, there were a number of external style revisions. The most notable was the introduction of so called "Big Bumpers", which were introduced between 1989 and 1990 in the European market. Other notable changes to the looks of the Golf II include the removal of quarterlight windows in the front doors, in favor of single piece glass circa 1987. Also the introduction of larger grill slats circa 1987.
As with the North American Rabbit, the second-generation Golf was produced in Pennsylvania. When sales in North America failed to live up to expectations, the Westmoreland plant was closed in July 1988. Subsequent Golfs sold in North America came from Germany and Mexico. The Mark II Golf was discontinued in Europe in 1991, but Mexican-made Mark II models remained available in North America for another year.
As with the Mk1, there was a "warm hatch" version known as the Golf Driver. Introduced in 1988, it featured the GTI's exterior styling, namely the twin front headlamps, and wheelarch spoilers but with a standard 1.6 L engine. For the last year of production, the Driver was given a carburetted version of the GTI's 1781 cc engine.
Part of the popularity in the UK of the Mk II drew from one 1987 advert. "Changes" starred model Paula Hamilton, made up to give her a close resemblance to Diana, Princess of Wales. She is seen leaving her husband, posting her wedding ring back through the letterbox and ditching her mink coat, chucking the house keys at the cat, rejected the fur coat and pearl necklace - but kept the Mk II car keys. If only everything in life was as reliable as a Volkswagen ran the tagline. The advert spawned a new era in car advertising.
First Generation/Origins: Mk I (1974 – 1982)
The first Golf began production in 1974. Marketed in the United States and Canada from 1975 to 1984 as the Volkswagen Rabbit and in Mexico as the Volkswagen Caribe, it featured the water-cooled, front wheel drive design pioneered by the Citroën Traction Avant in 1934 with the addition of a hatchback pioneered by the Renault 4 in 1961. The Golf was Wheels magazine's Car of the Year for 1975.
While the Golf was not the first design with this layout (earlier examples being the Austin and Morris Mini of 1959, the Austin Maxi in the late 1960s and the Fiat 128 3P of the early 1970s), it was very successful, especially since it married these features with Volkswagen's reputation for solid build-quality and reliable engineering.
The Golf was designed by Italian automobile architect / designer Giorgetto Giugiaro, of the ItalDesign design studio. A version of this original Golf model, known as the Volkswagen CitiGolf, is still produced in South Africa as an entry level car.
In 1978, Volkswagen commenced producing the Rabbit version of the Mk1 Golf in Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, thus becoming the first European car manufacturer in modern times to produce a vehicle in the United States. Former Chevrolet executive James McLernon was chosen to run the factory, which was built to lower the cost of the Rabbit in North America by producing it locally. Unfortunately, McLernon tried to "Americanize" the Rabbit by softening the suspension and using cheaper materials for the interior. VW purists in America and company executives in Germany were displeased, and for the 1983 model year the Pennsylvania plant went back to using stiffer shocks and suspension with higher-quality interior trim. The plant also began producing the GTI for the North American market. (Rabbits were built in Pennsylvania through 1984.) The first VW Caddy pick-up, based on the Mk1 Golf, was also created at the Pennsylvania plant.
The GTI version, launched in Europe in 1976 and in the US in 1983, virtually created the hot hatch genre overnight, and many other manufacturers since have created special sports models of their regular volume selling small hatchbacks. In the United States, the Mk1 Golf GTI was known as the Rabbit GTI, and it differed from its European predecessor only slightly. For background to the development of the GTI, read, "The People's Porsche", an undergraduate dissertation.
There was a minor facelift in 1980 for North American versions only, which saw the adoption of larger rear lamp clusters (more in line with Guigiaro's original concepts), larger bumpers, square headlights and a new dashboard with a more modern-looking instrument display.
The convertible version, named the Cabriolet, was sold from 1980 to 1993 (a convertible version of the Golf II was not made, so the Mk1 cabrio with slight modification was produced until the introduction of the Mk III cabrio). It had a reinforced body, transverse roll bar, and a high level of trim. The A1 Volkswagen convertible is of unibody construction built entirely at the factory of Karmann, from stamping to final assembly; Volkswagen supplied the engine, suspension, interior, etc. for Karmann to install. The vinyl tops were insulated and manually operated, with a glass rear window.
- 1997 - Which? Magazine Best Buys - Best Family Car
- 1998 - Top Gear Magazine Top Cars - Best Family Car
- 1998 - What Car? Car of the Year Awards - Best Small Hatch
- 1999 - Used Car Buyer Greatest Used Buy Awards - Best Small Family Car
- 2000 - CAP Used Car of the Year Awards - Best Small Hatch
- 2000 - Diesel Car 2000 Awards - Best Hatchback
- 2004 - Best Hatch ? BBC Top Gear Magazine Awards
- 2004 - WhatCar? Car of the Year
- 2004 - WhatCar? Best Small Family Car
- 2004 - Winner - AutoExpress New Car Honours
- 2004 - RACV Australia's Best Mid-size Car Under $28,000
- 2005 - Auto Express - Best Hot Hatch (Golf GTI)
- 2005 - Auto Express - Best Sporting Car (Golf GTI)
- 2009 - World Car of the Year
- 2010 - Drive - Best Small Car (118TSI)
- VW Golf – Official site, Germany
- VW Golf – Official site, UK
- VW Rabbit – Official site, US
- VW Rabbit - Official minisite, US
- VWvortex — One of the largest Volkswagen communities on the internet
- Matey-Matey – International Golf GTI site - Features useful technical articles, downloadable buying guides and numerous featured GTIs.
- VW club Russian site
- VW Golf-2 club Russian site
- VW Golf R32 club VW R32 enthusiast site, hosted in North America, with members worldwide
- myturbodiesel.com Golf TDI FAQ and "how to" VW Golf TDI FAQ and "how to" list
- GolfMkv Site dedicated to MK-V GTI and Rabbits
- Wörthersee 2007: VW Golf GTI Pirelli unveiled
- Volkswagen Golf leasing review
- VW’s Golf GT Sport Bourne Ultimatum Role Playing Game
- Volkwagen Golf VI unveiled a bit early
- New VW Golf VI Gets An Early Internet Unveil
- 2009 Volkswagen Golf VI Images Leaked Online
- New VW Golf VI Photos Leaked
- 2009 VW Golf VI: New Image Gallery with all Available Colors
- 2009 VW Golf VI Image Galore: 62 High-Res Photos
- Volkswagen Golf BlueMotion Diesel Claims 62 MPG Without Fancy Electric Motors
- 2009 VW Golf VI Collectors Edition
- UK-MKIVS - UK owners' club with useful technical information, how-to guides and general Volkswagen-Audi Group (VAG) banter
- Volkswagen Golf Collectors Edition by Walter de Silva
- VW reveals Golf VI TwinDrive plug-in hybrid prototype
- Volkswagen unveils Golf BiFuel at Bologna Motor Show
- VW Golf VI Original Accessories
- New Volkswagen Golf Estate: Same Car, Different Face
- New 2010 VW Golf VI Wagon Revealed
- Officially Official: VW releases details on 2010 Golf, TDI up to 42 mpg hwy!
- Volkswagen Introduces LED Rear Lights for the Golf R, GTI and GTD