Iconic Car of the Month: Volkswagen Golf

20/04/2016 14:37

Iconic Car of the Month: Volkswagen Golf

Iconic Car of the Month: Volkswagen Golf

It’s that time of the month again, where we plunge into the rich tapestry that is the history of motoring and pluck out one car that has earned its stripes, paid its dues, and taken its rightful place in the classic car hall of fame. This time around, we’re putting the spotlight squarely on an unassuming little hatchback that has been cruising around for four decades, charming drivers from a wide variety of backgrounds and ages, its friendly face instantly recognisable and a constant sight on roads all across the continent. Please put your hands together… for the Volkswagen Golf.

First rolling off the production line in 1974, the Golf Mk1 was a blocky front-wheel-drive replacement for the all-conquering Beetle. With big shoes to fill, the Mk1 impressed the public with its GTI “hot hatch” variant, with a top speed of 110mph, and a 0-60 of 9 seconds. Immediately popular, 2 million Mk1s were built within the first four years of its birth.

The Mk2 was released in 1983, and by this time, almost every other manufacturer had caught on and decided that producing compact, nippy hatchbacks seemed like quite a good idea, and had begun to produce their own versions. The Mk2 continued the original models rapid ascension, helped along by this very empowering and very 80’s advert, starring supermodel Paula Hamilton:

Let’s hop in a Tardis and fast forward to 1998, and the Mk4. It should be noted at this point that the Golf gets extra brownie points for using numbers instead of numerals for its various models, saving us all the minor but irritating inconvenience of having to figure out which one we’re talking about. Nice and efficient, Volkswagen. By the Mk4, the Golf was taking shape as the car we know and love today, with a much more rounded exterior and the recognisable rectangular headlights. The interiors of the car were especially improved, with the aim of widening the car’s appeal to more affluent buyers.

The Mk4 won several awards during its production, including the WhatCar? Best Small Hatchback award. Thanks to its low cost, the Mk4 was snapped up overseas, especially in Chinese and South American markets, remaining in production four years after the model was discontinued in Blighty.

In each model of the Golf, the GTI has consistently been the trim that’s got people talking the most, and has generated the most momentum in the galloping charge of the hatch’s success. Standing for ‘gran turismo iniezione’, which translated from Italian, roughly means ‘great touring injection’ (so essentially nonsense that sounds cool), the GTI refers to the Golf’s usage of the Bosch K-Jetronic fuel injection that replaced the carburettor that was traditionally attached to the engine. When the Mk1 GTI hit the scene, this meant that the 1.6 litre engine could produce 108bhp at 6100rpm; the powerful engine spawned the term ‘hot hatch’, and a huge line of manufacturers fell over themselves to follow suit.

Forty years of tweaking, tinkering and constant innovation have led to today’s Golf, the Mk7, for which the GTI model offers a 217bhp supercharged 2.0 litre four cylinder engine, with the Golf R managing a massive 296bhp. The first hybrid Golf – the GTE - was unveiled at 2014’s Geneva Motor Show, and in less than two years has become the second highest selling hybrid in Europe. Never one to rest on their laurels, Volkswagen is still perfecting and future proofing their all-time best selling model.

If Volkswagen’s progress and innovation with the all-conquering Golf so far is anything to judge by, you can expect us to be reviewing the Mk28 in 2078.

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