The third best-selling car of all time, the Golf has sold 35.5 million units since its first production in 1974. This iconic car has followed in the footsteps of its remarkable predecessor, the Beetle, which was the most successful car in the world ever at that time, with 21.5 million units sold. Although the challenge of carrying the mantle was daunting, it’s more than fair to say that the Golf has pulled through.
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It’s worth taking a look into this car line’s 7 generations of excellence to see how it left its mark on each of the past 5 decades.
Golf Mk1 – 1974 to 1983
The pioneer model of this iconic car line was a gamble that paid off very well. Contrary to the Beetle, the Golf has made the update to front-engined and front-wheel drive, alongside water cooling. Being an affordable German hatchback, suitable for family needs, and tailored to capture the admiration of bachelors, it celebrated the production of its one-millionth unit as early as October 1976!
Golf Mk2 – 1983 to 1991
The early ‘80s witnessed the launch of Golf’s second generation, the Mk2, and it came bearing gifts. Alongside a lambda-probe-controlled catalytic converter and the anti-lock brake system, this model was the first to introduce an all-wheel drive system to the car line. The Golf Mk2 was awarded “Car of the Year” by the British motoring magazine What Car? in 1985. Only 3 years later, by June 1988, Golf had already reached a jaw-dropping figure of 10 million Golf units produced.
Golf Mk3 – 1991 to 1997
Better safe than sorry. The Mk3 was the car line’s first model equipped with airbags. It was also designed with the intent of being crashworthy. This led to building a bridge of trust with customers, who benefited immensely from this new and improved protection. In case that wasn’t enough, the third generation of Golf achieved many firsts, with the first six-cylinder engine (VR6), the first diesel direct injection engine, and the first side airbags, all of which helped the MK3 win European Car of the Year. Volkswagen reached a new milestone of 15 million produced Golf vehicles in 1997.
Golf Mk4 – 1997 to 2003
As the ‘90s were drawing to a close, Golf kept getting bigger and bigger, and this generation brought a lot of significant design changes, inside and out. Although it took away the stylish, edgy exterior of its predecessor (a decision that didn’t bode well with Golf enthusiasts), it improved substantially on the interior, making it more modern than ever before. What made this generation truly special was the introduction of the sportiest Golf yet, the R32, with a top speed of 250 km/h. Despite winning a lot of awards, including Top Gear’s Best Family Car and What Car’s Best Small Hatchback, the Mk4 failed to win European Car of the Year. Nevertheless, it was still considered a classic car that could be seen everywhere around Europe.
Golf Mk5 – 2003 to 2008
Comfort and dynamics were what defined Mk5. It’s regarded as a high-performance hatchback, and it gave Golf’s competitors a run for their money. Now equipped with a laser-welded and much smoother design that’s fit for the new millennia, it overcame the criticism directed at the Mk4. This car has been successful due to the new features Golf implemented, like the new four-link suspension rear axle and a new 7-speed DSG, bi-xenon headlights, rain sensor, as well as a tilting and sliding panoramic sunroof. Though Golf was never really down or out, the fifth generation definitely affirmed its glorious status.
Golf Mk6 – 2008 to 2012
Rather than going with an entirely new design, Golf made refinements and upgrades to the previous generation, introducing the Mk6 with a slightly edgier and more efficient design. Upgrades were also made to the interior in terms of quality, and new assistive technologies were added. Golf Mk6 was considered one of the safest vehicles in its class at the time of its release due to important factors, such as having 7 standard airbags and a standard Electronic Stability Program (ESP). The sixth generation of this unique car line excelled during its period and was able to win the 2009 “World Car of the Year,” becoming the most progressive Golf at that time.
Golf Mk7 – 2012 to 2020
Volkswagen welcomed its seventh generation of Golf in a world premiere in Berlin on September 4th, 2012. With the promise of being bigger, faster, and better than ever before. Golf made some significant modifications in order to live up to that. This model saw a reduction in weight (100 kg), while also featuring new assist systems, including the Automatic Post-Collision Braking System, a proactive occupant protection system as well as ACC Adaptive Cruise Control. Volkswagen continues to ensure that this iconic car line never runs out of wonders and that each model is more satisfactory than the last.
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