The Volkswagen Golf is a compact car that has been in production since 1974. The Golf has been a top contender for the European Car of the Year award, every year since it went into production. Only one year’s model, however, has actually received that award: the 1992 Volkswagen Golf Mk3. Contrary to popular belief, the name Golf does not come from the sport. It actually comes from the German word for “gulf stream.”
The first generation of Golf cars were actually manufactured under a different name in the United States and Canada, and were front wheel drive. In America, the early Volkswagen Golf was instead the Volkswagen Rabbit. This first generation model was very box-like in exterior desing. In Canada it was marketed as the Volkswagen Caribe. Both were meant to replace the VW Beetle.
In 1983 Volkswagen introduced the second generation of the Golf line. The design was more rounded, with a larger wheel base. In ’85 the premier 4WD Golf was produced, as the Golf syncro. By 1989 the second generation of these compact cars had 160 horsepower and included anti-lock brakes.
From 1991 to 1999 Volkswagen drastically improved the performance and quality from earlier models. A new turbocharged direct injection engine was now available, with a 2.8-liter VR6 and the ability to go from 0 – 60 in 7.1 seconds – a remarkable feet for the time. It also was able to obtain an impressive 32 MPG on the highway and 26 around town. This was especially remarkable for that time.
Today’s Volkswagen Golf made its premier appearance at the Paris Motor Show in 2008. The all-new design, compliments of chief engineer, Walter de’Silva, gave the new Golf better fuel efficiency and a sleeker look.
With 38 years of experience producing these compact cars, it will be interesting to see what is to come, in terms of improvements, of future Golf models.