Volkswagen Golf

In the early 1930s, the vast majority of automobiles in Germany were luxury cars, and the average blue-collar consumer was most likely unable to afford anything more expensive than a motorcycle. Looking to tap into this new, family-oriented market niche, Volkswagen (VW) began developing affordable vehicles to appeal to a wider audience, making its official debut in the automotive industry in 1937. Originally selling for a tidy but affordable sum of around $400, the common citizen could now easily afford the ?luxury"" of enclosed four-wheel transportation.

More on the Volkswagen Golf
Volkswagen Golf Origins

Over the decades, Volkswagen would produce one of the most recognizable and best selling cars in history, the Beetle. But by the start of the 1970s, the manufacturer would find itself in dire financial straits, overstocked with new models that failed to win over its global base of loyal customers. Marketed as the New Spark to rekindle VW's waning world-wide sales, the Golf was launched at the 1974 Frankfurt Auto Show.

Known as the Rabbit in the U.S. and Canada, the Volkswagen Golf would go on to become the best-selling model in VW's long history and the world’s best-selling model of any car, with close to 30 million vehicles built since its inception four decades ago. Manufactured in all sorts of variant designs, from five-door hatchbacks to convertibles and estate wagons, the Volkswagen Golf is easily one of the most popular cars in the world, being named as the European Car of the Year in 1992.

About the Volkswagen Golf

Essentially built and touted as an alternative to the Beetle, the Volkswagen Golf is basically its opposite in terms of vehicular design. The most obvious and distinct feature of the Golf was its sharply-defined body lines as opposed to the swooping, curved metal look of the Beetle. Other features that set it apart was its less-complicated unibody structure, a front-mounted, water-cooling, inline engine that drove its front wheels, and the fact that it was available as a four-door option as well as a hatchback.

With a curb weight of just under 2000 pounds, and an overall length of 12 feet, the Golf helped usher in a new era of highly compact cars with a higher performance threshold. Corner-mounted wheels, made possible because of a fairly wide vehicle base of 94 inches, helped give the Golf a higher degree of interior space in comparison to the competition at the time. Add to this its stellar level of consumer affordability and passenger comfort, and it’s no wonder that the Golf more than exceeded VW’s expectations.

Arriving in the United States in 1975 and priced at $3,000, when compared against other cars in its class, the Golf provided better speed, enhanced cornering ability, excellent acceleration, and superior mileage capability. Most of these earliest Golf's came equipped with a 115-horsepower, 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine that was quite powerful with the manual transmission but not to the same degree when paired with the automatic.

The Golf GTI performance model was a genuine hot-hatch, packing VW's 2.8-liter, narrow-angle, six-cylinder, VR6 engine under the hood, making for 172 horsepower. These powertrains made the Golf faster than almost any other affordable small car of the time.

Volkswagen Golf Features

Available in two-door and four-door body styles, the 2012 Volkswagen Golf comes powered by a 170-hp, 2.5-liter, inline, five-cylinder gas engine with 177 lb-ft of torque or a 140-hp, two-liter, TDI clean-diesel engine that pumps out a robust 236 lb-ft of torque. Consumers who opt for the gas-driven engine can select either a five-speed manual transmission or the six-speed Tiptronic automatic, while those choosing the diesel can go with either a six-speed manual or six-speed DSG automatic with Tiptronic. The five-seater accelerates from zero to 60 mph in just over seven seconds with a fuel rating of 23/33 mpg city/highway.

The Golf GTI maxes out at an impressive 270-hp and 258 lb-ft of torque, which will at long last be offered in the U.S. for the first time, thanks to an overwhelmingly-passionate plea on the part of Golf enthusiasts worldwide.

Standard safety and comfort features on all 2012 Volkswagen Golf models include 15-inch steel wheels, keyless entry, cruise control, stability and traction control, anti-lock disc brakes, six cabin airbags, and tire pressure monitoring. The Diesel models come a bit extra, equipped with features such as 17-inch alloy wheels, heated windshield washer nozzles, sport suspension, touch-screen six-disc stereo system SIRUS-ready, floor mats, and a leather steering wheel with matching shift knob.

Known for its spacious interiors, the 2012 Golf offers 12.5 cubic feet of hauling space behind its rear seats and an extra 33.5 cubic feet made available once the rear seats are removed entirely.

Volkswagen Golf Evolution

Covering the years from 1985 to1992, the second generation of the Volkswagen Golf had a more stylistic version of the previous Golf/Rabbit's basic body design. Power ranged from a 1.6-liter, 52-hp diesel to a two-liter, 131-hp, and 16-valve inline-four as seen in the GTI. Most Golf's from this era had a 1.8-liter four-cylinder. Initially, the 1.8-liter was listed at 85 hp, but it was later re-calibrated for 100-hp output.

1993 to 1999 marked the Golf’s third generation, with the introduction of a new turbo charged, direct injection diesel engine. The GTI offered a narrow-angle 2.8-liter VR6, specifically designed for transverse engine installations in front-wheel-drive vehicles for a hefty 200-hp. This made the Volkswagen Golf of 1994 the first time a six-cylinder engine was available in a lower-midsize hatchback.

Introduced in the U.S. in 1999, the fourth generation Golf models were completely new, now with a more solid, mature feel than its predecessors, though the powertrains were offered as largely unchanged at first. The same 115-hp four felt a little overwhelmed power-wise when pulling a fully-loaded vehicle and didn't get very admirable gas mileage. But later models with the two other engine options were both quicker on the road and decidedly more fuel efficient.

Golf TDI (diesels) models sold from 2004 until 2006 were saddled with an updated version of the 1.9-liter that delivered 100 hp. Late in this model’s market run, the limited-edition high-performance R32 was offered, sporting a 3.2-liter, 240-hp VR6 with all-wheel drive.

Select a Volkswagen Golf Year

2018 Volkswagen Golf

Compact, Hatchback, Wagon

2017 Volkswagen Golf

Compact, Hatchback, Wagon

2016 Volkswagen Golf

Compact, Hatchback, Wagon

2015 Volkswagen Golf

Compact, Hatchback, Wagon

2014 Volkswagen Golf

Compact, Hatchback

2013 Volkswagen Golf

Compact, Hatchback

The 2013 Volkswagen Golf is a hatchback that has been in production since 1974.

2012 Volkswagen Golf

Compact, Hatchback

Volkswagen drops its nostalgia-tinged experiment of the Rabbit name, reverting to the familiarity of the Golf badge.

2011 Volkswagen Golf

Compact, Hatchback

The 2011 Volkswagen Golf hatchback offers the unique combination of good fuel economy, refinement, and quality materials at an affordable price, even though its price remains high for the hatchback market.

2010 Volkswagen Golf

Compact, Hatchback

Besides a revised exterior and interior, the 2010 model year also returns the Golf name (following a brief ‘Rabbit’ revival) as well as touchscreen controls for both audio and Bluetooth TDI model. Volkswagen also made numerous efforts to improve both the efficiency and refinement of the new model.

2006 Volkswagen Golf

Compact, Hatchback

The 2006 Volkswagen Golf is a fun vehicle to drive; and with the chunky hatchback style, it has character as well.

2005 Volkswagen Golf

Compact, Hatchback

The 2005 Volkswagen Golf has a hatchback wagon body style.

2004 Volkswagen Golf

Compact, Hatchback

The 2004 Volkswagen Golf hatchback marks one of the most significant models offered by Volkswagen.

2003 Volkswagen Golf

Compact, Hatchback

The Volkswagen Golf is a long-running two or four-door compact hatchback from the German automaker.

2002 Volkswagen Golf

Compact, Hatchback

The 2002 Volkswagen Golf hatchback offers as much as other vehicles in the German maker’s line-up.

2001 Volkswagen Golf

Compact, Hatchback

In 1974, Volkswagen created the Golf, a front-wheel drive small compact family car.

2000 Volkswagen Golf

Compact, Hatchback

The 2000 Volkswagen Golf is a hatchback and station wagon that was launched by the German automaker in 1997.

1999 Volkswagen Golf

Compact, Hatchback, Sedan, Sports

The 1999 Volkswagen Golf is a small family car with a history that dates back to 1974.

1998 Volkswagen Golf

Compact, Hatchback, Sports

1997 Volkswagen Golf

Compact, Hatchback, Sports

The 1997 Volkswagen Golf serves as a popular small family car that has been manufactured by Volkswagen since 1974.

1996 Volkswagen Golf

Compact, Hatchback, Sports

While the Golf might not be the first model most people think of when they hear the name Volkswagen, it is actually one of their most significant model lines.