• ETC
  • Mar 30, 2014
On March 29, 1974, the very first Volkswagen Golf rolled down the assembly line. That little car has gone on to spawn seven generations, while the Golf name has become one of the models in the hotly contested compact segment, selling over 30 million units during its 40 years on sale.

While we look forward to the seventh-generation Golf, which will spawn three distinct hot hatchbacks - the GTI, GTD and GTE - as well as fuel-sipping diesel-powered variants, Volkswagen has put together a look back at the first six generations of the venerable Golf. It briefly pays homage to each generation of the car, from its roots as a simple people mover onto its larger, better trimmed, contemporary version.

Take a look below for the detailed press release on the Golf's evolution, and then head into the gallery to see a visual representation of the Golf's development over the past 40 years.
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FORTY YEARS YOUNG: VOLKSWAGEN GOLF STANDS THE TEST OF TIME

Volkswagen is celebrating the 40th birthday of the most successful European car of all time: the Golf. More than 30 million vehicles of the best-seller have been sold and from the first to the seventh generation, the Golf has been a pioneer of technological progress.

Whether turbocharged engine, direct-injection engine, electric or plug-in hybrid drive system; whether ABS, ESC, XDS or 4MOTION; whether Adaptive Cruise Control, City Emergency Braking, trailer stabilisation or Automatic Post-Collision Braking System; whether automatic air conditioning, Dynaudio sound system, touchscreen with proximity sensor or LED headlights; whether GTI, GTD or GTE – it was always the Golf through which the most important technologies and trends of our time were democratised.

Golf Mk I: The first series production Golf rolled off the assembly line in Wolfsburg on 29 March 1974. Where for decades the Beetle and thus rear-mounted engines and rear-wheel drive had dominated the scene, a new era had now dawned: that of the transversely mounted front engine and front-wheel drive.

As the successor to the legendary Beetle, of which over 21.5 million units were built, the Golf Mk I, designed by Giorgio Giugiaro and Volkswagen Design, had to live up to the immense expectations that it would carry on the success story of what until then was the world's most successful car. It worked: the modern and reliable drive concept, the excellent spatial economy and ultimately the design as well, won over the market to such an extent that by October 1976 the one-millionth Golf had been produced.

In launching the first Golf GTI (in 1976), Volkswagen heralded the introduction of greater dynamism in this class, while the Golf D (naturally aspirated diesel engine, 1976) and the later Golf GTD (turbodiesel, 1982) marked the breakthrough for diesel cars in the compact segment. With the Golf Cabriolet, introduced in 1979, Volkswagen launched an open-top car that was at times the best-selling cabrio in the world.

Golf Mk II: As of August 1983, passengers no longer sat quite so close to each other, as use of space have been improved once more. It was then on the Golf that the regulated catalytic converter was introduced (1984), anti-lock braking system (ABS, 1986) and power-steering to the lower medium class. In 1986, syncro was introduced, opening up the option of all-wheel drive in the Golf class.

Golf Mk III: With the launch of the third generation Golf in August 1991, Volkswagen heralded a new era of safety. This Golf was the first of the series to have front airbags, starting in 1992, while major advances in the area of car body construction also resulted in significantly improved crash safety. In addition, numerous other technological milestones of the model range are linked to the third Golf. Many new features made their debut in this new Golf: the first six cylinder engine (VR6), cruise control, oxidation catalytic converter for diesel engines (1991) and the first direct injection diesel engines (TDI in 1993). Likewise, ABS became a standard feature on all Golf models in 1996. In 1993, Volkswagen had also introduced a new convertible based on the Golf Mk III, a new all-wheel drive model (syncro II) and the first Golf Variant (an estate).

Golf Mk IV: Under the direction of Hartmut Warkuß, then Head of Design at Volkswagen (Group), the Golf Mk IV crystallised the clear, precise design that lived up to the history of the Volkswagen brand more than ever before while setting its course to the future. With the debut of ESC (in 1998), the car continued to democratise safety. Also in 1998, Volkswagen unveiled the first all-wheel-drive Golf with a Haldex clutch – the Golf 4MOTION. One year later, ESC became a standard feature, initially in Germany.

The first direct-injection engine (FSI) and the debut of the standard head airbag (window airbags) followed in 2002. Also in 2002, Volkswagen launched the R32, with a top speed of 250 km/h (155 mph). It was this top model of the range that in 2003 was the first to debut with the revolutionary dual-clutch gearbox (DSG).

Golf Mk V: This was the Golf that boasted levels of comfort and dynamic performance that left many competitors way behind in 2003. The same went for the car's security features. One factor that underlines the stability of the laser-welded bodywork was the 35 per cent increase in torsional rigidity demonstrated when the Golf Mk V made its debut in 2003. On request, the Golf was now also available for the first time with side airbags – together with the six standard airbags (front, side front and window) there were thus eight protective air buffers on board. In comfort as well as dynamic performance, the Golf Mk V scored in numerous areas, including: its new four-link rear suspension, seven-speed DSG, bi-xenon headlights, panoramic sliding sunroof, plus the world's first twincharger (in the 2006 TSI), combining turbo- and supercharger. In 2006, the Golf Plus made its debut; in 2007, the CrossGolf, a new Estate and the extremely fuel-efficient Golf BlueMotion (4.5 l/100 km or 62.8 mpg).

Golf Mk VI: In just four years, a further 2.85 million Golf cars had been produced by the end of July 2012, based on the sixth generation of the car launched in 2008. And once again safety made great advances too: the car body was so rugged that it passed the EuroNCAP crash test with flying colours, gaining the maximum five stars. Meanwhile, more TSI engines and a transition among the turbodiesel engines (TDI) from unit injection to the common rail system resulted in greater dynamic performance and lower fuel consumption. A top performer here was the second Golf BlueMotion with a combined fuel consumption of just 3.8 l/100 km (74.3 mpg), equivalent to 99 g/km of CO2. New assistance systems, such as Light Assist automatic main beam management and Park Assist, made the sixth generation the most advanced Golf to date.

Golf Mk VII: On 4 September 2012, Volkswagen celebrated the world premiere of the seventh generation Golf. The weight of the new Golf was reduced by up to 100 kg, thereby reversing the often cited upward weight spiral. Fuel economy was hence also improved by up to 23 per cent. The new Golf TDI BlueMotion consumes only 3.2 l/100 km (88.3 mpg) (equivalent to 85 g/km of CO2) under standard NEDC conditions. In addition, Volkswagen has equipped the Golf with an entire armada of new assistance systems – some as options and others as standard. In 2014, Volkswagen electrifies the compact class with the Golf: the all-electric e-Golf with a range of around 190 kilometres is already available to buy. In addition, the new Golf GTE will be launched in autumn. Its plug-in hybrid drive system achieves a standard fuel consumption of 1.5 l/100 km; in all-electric mode, the Golf GTE can be driven for 50 kilometres.

The Golf is the most successful model ever built by Volkswagen. In the summer of 2013 the 30 millionth Golf was built.

(ends)


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 40 Comments
      Go2Fast
      • 8 Months Ago
      someone needs to make an animated morphing gif with those shots
      yo
      • 8 Months Ago
      this picture is proff of what is wrong with VW. These two cars STILL LOOK EXACTLY THE SAME!! new headlights cant mask the FACT that this design dates back to the 70's/
        • 8 Months Ago
        @yo
        [blocked]
        INCREDIBLE BOB
        • 8 Months Ago
        @yo
        Looks like you won't be buying one, but millions like the looks.
        Arizonarelax
        • 8 Months Ago
        @yo
        Actually, the Golf looks as good today as it did back then. I believe VW managed the longevity and evolution of this model very well. What the pictures do not show are the technological advancements, interior upgrades and of course, safety improvements. Ask yourself this simple question, in 200 years how much will a chair have changed? Humans still need a place to sit. Something's that are designed correctly from the beginning don't need to change - just follow a logical path for improvement. Not many manufacturers of automobiles can point to a model as successful as the Golf.
        wafflesnfalafel
        • 8 Months Ago
        @yo
        What you say is partially true - it is still the same basic formula. But it shows just how genius they were back then. Drop your hot motor in a relatively small and very useful vehicle, make it fun to drive - voila.
        Martin
        • 8 Months Ago
        @yo
        This post is "proff" the internet is full of manchildren who stopped mentally maturing at age 15. Or maybe you actually are 15. If not, the thought might have occurred to you that the whole reason the Golf is still around and still successful after four decades (with no lapse in production) is precisely BECAUSE it isn't an overstyled mess. If only more automakers could follow this example and make things consistently and smartly from the start, they might not need to reinvent and rebrand their products every few years to recapture lost market share. Honda's been building the Civic about as long and every time they try to "futurize" and "trendify" it by giving it some stupid flashy exterior design or reimagining the interior layout, it doesn't end well for them and they resort to a different approach within a year or two. Volkswagen knows better. They don't need to gild a lily. The Golf is in the upper echelon of automotive Darwinism.
        Arizonarelax
        • 8 Months Ago
        @yo
        Actually, the Golf looks as good today as it did back then. I believe VW managed the longevity and evolution of this model very well. What the pictures do not show are the technological advancements, interior upgrades and of course, safety improvements. Ask yourself this simple question, in 200 years how much will a chair have changed? Humans still need a place to sit. Something's that are designed correctly from the beginning don't need to change - just follow a logical path for improvement. Not many manufacturers of automobiles can point to a model as successful as the Golf.
      S40Powered
      • 8 Months Ago
      Love to see the evolution of the Golf. Not my type of car but always found respect for what represents over 30 years.
      PiCASSO
      • 8 Months Ago
      I feel like I'm looking at a 2000 Pontiac GrandAm with the current gen GTI and the front fugly ribs. http://www.fastcoolcars.com/images/gm3/melanie1.jpg
      Jaybird248
      • 8 Months Ago
      I bought a Rabbit in its first year and it was a reliability nightmare. In fact, VW later admitted that with Beetle sales plummeting, the Golf/Rabbit was rushed to market one year too soon. "US customers were our test drivers," a VW exec admitted." Obviously they've improved a lot since then, but even though I had two Beetles before the Rabbit and loved them, I've never bought another VW,
      • 8 Months Ago
      [blocked]
      Ae Neuman
      • 8 Months Ago
      the latest gti is a great drive but the thing is so big and laden with useless gizmos that it loses appeal. i'd rather have a mint mk1.
        FRENZIED
        • 8 Months Ago
        @Ae Neuman
        Agreed! I think the size of the Mk1 is perfect.
      Wisdom Seeker
      • 8 Months Ago
      I'll tip one for the Golf. I've owned a MK IV TDI for the last 11 years. A great car.
      Carpinions
      • 8 Months Ago
      As a former A4 GTI owner, an anniversary like this goes only to the greats.Still have a soft spot in my heart for these cars. If I didn't have kids, I'd probably be rocking' a Golf R.
      Paul Sherrard
      • 8 Months Ago
      I've owned 8 Golf/Rabbits, my last being an '09 Mk V.. Loved all of them! Looking at getting the 2015 Golf R when it arrives. I can't explain my affinity for them, there's just something about the shape and the driving dynamics that I really like about this car. My wife offered to get me a Jaguar F-Type, but I told her I'd just return it and get a Golf R. Am I crazy?
      Hazdaz
      • 8 Months Ago
      I prefer the one on the left.
      Terry Actill
      • 8 Months Ago
      I loved my VW Golf and wish I still had it. It wasn't trouble free, but it had character in bunches.
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