The Golf is a small family car (C-Class) manufactured by the German automotive company, Volkswagen. It was first released to the market in 1974 and marketed worldwide across eight generations, in various body configurations since it’s manufacture.
In 1974, the Golf was produced to succeed the air cooled, rare engine Volkswagen Beetle. It was however built a front wheel drive with a front engine. The initial Golf MK1 cars were 3-door hatchbacks with variants that included a 5-door hatchback, estate (Variant, from 1993), and the convertible (Cabrio, 1979–2002, Cabriolet, 2011–present). The Golf is one of the best selling car models with over 30 million of them sold by June 2013.
The Golf is one of three cars to have won the European Car of the Year award twice, in 1992 and 2013, a record they share with only the Renault Clio and the Vauxhall Astra. Other awards won by The Golf include the World Car of the Year in 2009, with the Volkswagen Golf Mk6 and in 2013 with the Volkswagen Golf Mk7. The Golf Mk1 GTI won the Motor Trend Car of the Year award in 1985, and the Mk7 also won the award in 2015. The Volkswagen Golf has also made the annual Car and Driver 10Best list multiple times.
The Golf’s engine(s) has always been improved with each facelift or generation. From the fuel-injected 1.6 litre engine of the Golf Mk1 GTI to Turbocharged Direct Injection engine of the Mk2 GTI to the turbocharged inline 4-cylinder clean diesel engine of the Mk6 and more improvements as shall be seen with each of the eight generations below.
Generations of the Volkswagen Golf
a] The Volkswagen Golf Mk1:
The original (first generation) Golf car first released in May 1974. In Europe, the Volkswagen Golf was produced with 3-doors and as a front engine, front wheel-drive car. Variations for the Golf Mk1 included; Golf GTI that was manufactured later in June 1976. It had a fuel-injected 1.6 litre engine that could reach 180 kilometers per hour, In September the same year, a diesel-powered version was introduced and then the Golf Cabriolet in January 1980.
In México, the Golf Mk1 was sold as the Volkswagen Caribe where as it was marketed, in the rest of North America as the Volkswagen Rabbit. In South Africa, from 1984 to 2009, the Golf Mk1s facelifted version known as the Citi Golf was produced.
b] Volkswagen Golf Mk2:
Introduced in September 1983, the Golf Mk2 was the second-generation Golf (Mk2). Compared to the Mk1, the Mk2 grew slightly in terms of wheelbase, exterior and interior dimensions, but retained the Mk1’s overall look. It faced a late launch on the British market where it was introduced in March 1984 despite already being available on the German market and most other left-hand drive markets by the end of 1983.
In 1985, with a 1.8 litre 8-valve fuel- injected engine, the Mk2 GTI featured was introduced. The Mk2 GTI had a 16-valve version capable of more than 220 km/h. The Golf’s first four-wheel-drive cars were also introduced the same year, known as the Golf Syncro.
The Mk2-based saloon variant Jetta was introduced in January 1984. The Golf Mk1’s convertible variant Cabriolet wasn’t given a model based on the Mk2 but its production continued.
c] Volkswagen Golf Mk3:
With the same wheel base as its predecessor, the Golf Mk2, the third-generation Golf (Mk3) was introduced in August 1991. The Mk3 was made with new engines including a narrow angle 2.8 litre VR6 engine, and the first ever Turbot Direct Injection Diesel engine in a Golf car.
The Golf Mk3 got a Golf estate (Golf Variant) that debuted in September 1993 in Germany and later in overseas markets in early 1994.
After 13 years, Mk1’s convertible variant was replaced by the Mk3-derived Cabriolet. The new Cabriolet was based on the Mk3 Golf platform from 1995 to early 1999. The saloon variant, called VW Jetta, had been presented in January 1992.
The car won European Car of the Year for 1992. In North America and parts of South America, the Mk3 continued to be sold until 1999 as a special edition with added air conditioning, black-tinted rare brake lights and anti-lock brakes. It was called the “Mi”. The “Mi” is coloured red, was equipped with a multi-point fuel injection and the 1.8-litre engine of the Golf was upgraded to 2.0-litres and heated seats were offered on all trims.
d] Volkswagen Golf Mk4
The fourth generation was the Golf Mk4 that debuted in August 1997, followed by a notchback version (that was sold as the Volkswagen Jetta in North America), the VW Bora in a year later. A new Golf Variant (estate) was also released in March 1999 and there was no Mk4-derived Cabriolet but the Mk3 Cabriolet received a facelift in late 1999 that consisted of bumpers, grill and headlights similar to those of the Mark IV models.
The Mk4 received new high performance models such as the 3.2-litre VR6-engined four-wheel-drive Golf “R32” introduced in 2002, and the famous 1.8T (turbo) 4-cylinder used in various Volkswagen Group models. Certain variants of the Golf Mk4 (Bora) were in production in Brazil, China, and Mexico until 2008. The Mk4 was manufactured in Brazil until 2013.
In Canada, from 2007 to 2010, revised versions of the Mk4 were marketed as the Golf City and Jetta City from 2007 to 2010. The two models were VW Canada’s entry-level offerings and were offered only with the 2.0-litre, 8-valve single over-head cam (SOHC) four-cylinder gasoline engine, rated at 86 kW. They were the only entry-level offerings with an optional six-speed automatic transmission. At the end of the 2006 model year, production of the European variant, and the U.S version of the Golf Mk4 stopped.
The Golf got a facelift in 2006 and became the Bora HS when the Chinese market Bora received a facelift in July the same year.
e]Volkswagen Golf Mk5:
The autumn of 2003 saw the introduction of the fifth generation of Golf; the Golf Mk5 in Europe. Like its predecessors, it reached the UK market late (later in early 2004). The Mk5 faced criticism of a downgraded interior trim quality compared to the Mk4.
The Mk5 GTI is powered by a turbocharged version of the 2.0-litre FSI engine, producing 147 kW. The North American base model is powered by a 2.5-litre five-cylinder engine, which produced 112 kW in 2006 and 2007, but was upped to 127 kW in the later models. Later models of the Mk5 introduced the 1.4-litre TSI turbocharged petrol engine with front-wheel drive. The Mk5’s GTI is the only version sold in Mexico.
The saloon version, marketed as the Volkswagen Jetta, is assembled in Germany, South Africa, and Mexico. It is marketed in some markets including parts of Europe, and Mexico as Bora. It was followed in 2007 by a new Golf Variant with the same front. The only difference being that the GLI is a sedan, while the GTI is a hatchback.
f] Volkswagen Golf Mk6:
The sixth generation of the Golf, was more fuel efficient because it was more aerodynamic. The Mk6 Golf was designed by Volkswagen’s chief designer Walter de’Silva and was quieter than the previous generations. Because of criticism Mk5 faced about its interior, Volkswagen overhauled the interior to match the quality with the Mk4 Golf, but maintained the same user friendliness from the Mk5. The car was introduced to the UK market in early 2009, and later in October that year, it was introduced in North America as the 2010 Golf where it reintroduced the diesel option.
The Golf Mk6 nameplate was made with a 130 kW, 2.5-litre inline 5-cylinder with 240 N·m of torque and a 2.0-litre, and a 100 kW turbocharged inline 4-cylinder clean diesel engine that generates 320 N·m of torque. The Golf Mk6 came with the optional Volkswagen Adaptive Chassis Control that allows the driver to select between ‘normal’, ‘comfort’ and ‘sports’ modes, which change the suspension, steering and accelerator behavior accordingly.
The GTI version is equipped with a 157 kW turbocharged inline 4-cylinder TSI gasoline engine while the Golf R has a 191 kW turbocharged TFSI inline 4 engine. All three engines can be paired with a DSG dual-clutch 6-speed automatic or 6-speed manual transmission in either a 3- or 5-door configuration.
In 2010, the saloon Mk6; the Jetta was released in Mexico, and by late 2011 it was available in all markets. In 2012, the Volkswagen Golf Mk6 was the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety Top Safety Pick.
g] Volkswagen Golf Mk7:
Slightly larger than the Mk6, but surprisingly 100 kg lighter…varying with engine choice, the seventh-generation Golf had its debut in September 2012 at the Paris Motor Show.
The GTI offers a 154 kW turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder with an available performance pack to raise the output to 162 kW. The Golf R has a 218 kW turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder with Haldex Traction all-wheel-drive. A GTI dubbed the GTI Clubsport making 195 kW was released in 2016. Its variant the Clubsport S held the record for the fastest front-wheel-drive car around the Nürburgring, until the 2017 Honda Civic Type-R took the record once again.
The Golf line is available in all the relevant drive systems: the Golf TSI, including GTI, is petrol-powered; Golf Turbo Direct Injection diesel, including GTD, is diesel-powered; the Golf TGI is powered by compressed natural gas (CNG); the e-Golf is powered by electricity; and the Golf GTE is a plug-in hybrid.
Volkswagen announced a facelifted version (Golf 7.5) to the 3-door hatchback, 5-door hatchback, 5-door estate, GTI and GTE, in addition to a new “R-Line” Golf, in November 2016. The models came with a new economical engine: 1.5-litre TSI EVO which produces 97 kW or 110 kW that replaced the 1.4-litre TSI. The updated GTI version featured a 230 hp as standard, or 247 hp in the optional performance pack.
The most powerful Golf in the range is the Golf R that goes from 0 to 100 km/h in 5.1 seconds, or 4.9 seconds with optional DSG gearbox. The top speed is electronically limited to 249 km/h.
h] Volkswagen Golf Mk8:
In October 2019, the Mk8 Golf introduced in Wolfsburg with an updated version of the MQB platform, with engine options; petrol, diesel and hybrid powertrains, with an all digital driver’s display and control panel. All Mk8’s have advanced safety features available such as travel assist and Car2x. Performance models consist of the GTE, GTI, GTD, and Golf R. The GTE and GTI produce 180 kW, the GTD produces 147 kW, and the R produces 235 kW. The e-Golf offered on the Mk7 was replaced by the ID.3.
Powertrain options have three eTSI mild-hybrid and two eHybrid plug-in hybrid engines in addition to existing TSI petrol, TDI diesel and TGI compressed natural gas (CNG) options.
All TSI engines feature the efficient TSI Miller combustion process and a turbocharger with variable turbocharger geometry, and the 1.5 litre engines have temporary Active Cylinder Management.
eTSI models use a 12 V vehicle electrical system and 48 V belt starter generator driven by the 48 V lithium-ion battery, while eHybrid models have a 13 kWh lithium-ion battery capable of running in EV mode. TDI models utilize a new twin dosing SCR system with a dual AdBlue selective catalytic reduction, which lowers nitrogen oxide emissions (NOx) up to 80% compared to the Mk7.
Golf III CityStromer
The VW Golf CityStromers were first of introduced in the 1970s, when VW converted a standard Golf Mk1 to electric power. A limited number of electric Golfs were produced along with the Golf Mk2. They used lead–acid battery packs and a custom-made motor and controller. VW continued the production of CityStromer electric cars with the introduction of the Golf Mk3.
The electric CityStromer Mk3 included a Siemens-based AC drive system, and lead–acid battery packs. They had a maximum speed of 97 km/h and a range of approximately 80 km.
Golf Variant Twin Drive
During the research, “Fleet study in electric mobility” in 2008, VW produced 20 Golf Variant twinDRIVE plug-in hybrid electric vehicles. The research vehicles have an all-electric range of 57 km and the internal combustion engine provides for a total range of 900 km. The plug-in hybrid drive of the Golf Variant twinDRIVE is features either an 11.2 kWh or a 13.2 kWh lithium-ion battery pack, as Volkswagen is testing packs from two vendors.
The vehicles used batteries with cathode type nickel cobalt aluminium dioxide (NCA), or lithium-ion batteries with nickel manganese cobalt (NMC). The gasoline engine is used to support the electric heating system when outdoor temperatures are low. Top speed of the car is 170 km/h and it accelerates from 0 to 100 km/h in under 12 seconds. The Golf Variant twinDRIVE can reach a top speed of 120 km/h when operated in pure electric mode.
The Golf GTI competed in the British GT Championship in 2003, driven by Steve Wood and Stuart Scott.
Golf TCR and Golf GTI TCR
Built for local and international competitions which use TCR regulations, Volkswagen Motorsport, introduced the Golf TCR touring car in 2015. The car was updated and renamed Golf GTI TCR in 2016.