Volkswagen Golf Celebrates 40th Birthday

By Matthew Askari | March 28, 2014
The Volkswagen Golf one of the most storied vehicles ever built, and the most successful European car of all time. Through seven generations, more than 30 million VW Golf models and variants have been sold, often with industry and class-first technological advancements. To celebrate four decades of the VW Golf, we take a look at some notable milestones.
Golf MK I (1974): The first Volkswagen Golf rolled off the assembly line on March 29, 1974. The car was a new venture for VW, after the great success of the VW Beetle. While the Beetle was rear-engine, rear-wheel drive, the Golf opted for a transverse mounted engine, and was front-wheel drive. The Golf successfully merged accessibility, spatial economy, and attractive design. The first GTI would arrive in 1976, adding a new level of dynamic driving, and would be followed by the Golf D and GTD, or diesel and turbo-diesel versions of the Golf.
Golf MK II (1983): While aesthetic changes to the second generation were minimal, one major change was a wider Golf, allowing for more room between passengers. 1984 saw the first regulated catalytic converter, ushered in by the V-Dub's popular hatchback, anti-lock brakes, and power steering to the lower to medium class. The Mark II also introduced Syncro, and early all-wheel drive system.
Golf MK III (1991): While a notable departure in style ushered in the third-gen, the MK III also featured a number of safety advancements. Front airbags and a stronger, redesigned frame made for a safer vehicle in the event of an accident. The famed VR6 six-cylinder engine was also introduced, as well as the first direct-injection diesel engine, the TDI. A new convertible was also based on the latest Volkswagen Golf.
Golf MK IV (1998): With the fourth VW Golf came the styling that we most associate with the iconic model, and is still strongly reflected in the newest generation. Electronic stability control (ESC) debuted on this generation, as did the first 4Motion all-wheel drive system, and eventually standard head airbags. Enthusiasts will be especially familiar with the MK IV, as this was the model Volkswagen launched the first R32 with, boasting a top speed of 155 mph. The top of the range VW R32 debuted with the first dual-clutch gearbox (DSG). Golf MK V (2003): A stiffer frame, more airbags, and greater levels of comfort greeted Golf enthusiasts in 2003. The fifth-gen also added a seven-speed DSG, bi-xenon headlights, and the world's first twincharger in the 2006 TSI engine, combining a turbo and supercharger. Golf MK VI (2008): The sixth-gen Golf saw greater levels of both performance and efficiency, as engines used the latest technology to maximize both. In just four years, from 2008-2012, VW produced an impressive 2.85 million models.
Golf MK VII (2012 in Europe): Later this year, Americans will finally get a crack at the latest VW Golf. The seventh generation is built on the automaker's all-new MQB architecture, and is lighter, larger, and more fuel efficient. A new entertainment and media screen ushers in a more refined cabin, and the latest-gen may be the most handsome--aside from our sentimental favorite, the model that started it all--and alluring. The 2015 VW Golf will also employ the automaker's new 1.8T four-cylinder engine, which we found to be more refined. Check back in a couple months for our 2015 Volkswagen Golf first drive. Source: Volkswagen