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The Volkswagen Golf is a hatchback / small family car manufactured by Volkswagen since 1974 and marketed worldwide across six generations, in various body configurations and under various nameplates - as the Volkswagen Rabbit in the United Statesmarker and Canadamarker (Mk1 and Mk5), and as the Volkswagen Caribe in Mexicomarker (Mk1).

The front-wheel drive Golf was Volkswagen's first successful replacement for the air-cooled Volkswagen Beetle. Historically, it is Volkswagen's best-selling model and the world's third best-selling model, with more than 25 million built by 2007.

Most production of the Golf was initially in the 3-door hatchback style. Other variants include a 5-door hatchback, estate/wagon (Variant, from 1993), convertible (Cabriolet and Cabrio, 1979-2002), and a Golf-derived notchback saloon/sedan, variously called Volkswagen Jetta, Volkswagen Vento or Volkswagen Bora (from 1979). The cars have filled many market segments, from basic personal cars, to high-performance hot hatches.

The nameplate Golf derives from the German word for Gulf Stream — and the period in its history when VW named vehicles after prominent winds, including also the Passat (after the German word for Trade wind, Jetta (after Jet stream), Bora (after Bora) and Scirocco (after Sirocco).

Golf Mk1/Rabbit (A1/Typ 17, 1974-1984)

In May, 1974 Volkswagen presented the first-generation Golf as a modern front wheel drive long-range replacement for the Volkswagen Beetle. Later Golf variations included the Golf GTI "hot hatch" (introduced in June, 1976), a Diesel-powered version (from September, 1976), the Jetta notchback saloon version (from October, 1979), the Golf Cabriolet (from January, 1980) and a Golf-based pickup, the Volkswagen Caddy. All variants proved instantly popular with the only notable technical flaw being the poor braking in RHD models, due to the master cylinder for the brakes being placed on the left for LHD cars, as Volkswagen never intended the Golf to be sold abroad.

The Golf Mk1 was sold as the Volkswagen Rabbit in the United Statesmarker and Canadamarker, and as the Volkswagen Caribe in Mexicomarker.

A facelifted version of the Golf Mk1 was produced in South Africa as the Citi Golf from 1984 to 2009.

Golf Mk2 (A2/Typ 19E, 1985-1992)

August, 1984 saw the introduction of the second-generation Mk2 that slightly grew in terms of wheelbase, exterior and interior dimensions while retaining, in a more rounded form, the Mk1's overall look. In 1985, the first Golfs with four-wheel drive (Golf Country) went on sale with the same Syncro four-wheel drive system being employed on the supercharged G60 models, exclusively released on the continent in 1989 with 160bhp and ABS braking.

A Mk2-based second generation Jetta was unveiled in January, 1984. There was no Mk2-based Cabriolet model; instead, the Mk1 Cabriolet was continued over the Mk2's entire production run.

Golf Mk3 (A3/Typ 1H, 1992-1998)

The third-generation Golf Mk3 made its home-market début in August, 1991 and again grew slightly in comparison with its immediate predecessor, while its wheelbase remained unchanged.

New engines included the first Turbocharged Direct Injection (TDI) diesel engine in a Golf, and a narrow-angle 2.8 L VR6 engine. The VR6-engined version accelerated from 0-60 mph (100 km/h) in 7.1 seconds, posting a record 15.5 1/4 time at 90.5 mph. EPA estimate 18 mpg (city) or 25 mpg (highway), with 261 miles per tank (city) and 363 miles per tank (highway). For the first time ever, a Golf estate (Golf Variant) joined the line-up in September, 1993 (although most markets did not receive this model until early 1994), at the same time a completely new Mk3-derived Cabriolet was introduced, replacing the 13-year-old Mk1-based version. With a body style similar to that of the Golf, it was continued on until 2001 with only minor changes in the 1999 model year.The notchback version, called VW Vento (or Jetta III in North America), was presented in January, 1992.

It was European Car of the Year for 1992.

The Mk3 continued to be sold until 1999 in Canada and parts of South America, also in Mexico as a special edition called "Mi" (Golf CL 4-door, added A/C, special interiors, OEM black tinted rear stop lights, and ABS, no OEM radio) ("Mi" ("i" in red) stands for Multiport Injection and the 1.8 liter engine was upgraded to 2.0).

Golf Mk4 (A4/Typ 1J, 1998-2005)

The Golf Mk4 was first introduced in August 1997, followed by a notchback version (VW Bora or, in North America, again VW Jetta) in August, 1998 and a new Golf Variant (estate) in March, 1999. There was no Mk4-derived Cabriolet, although the Mk3 Cabriolet received a facelift in late 1999 that comprised bumpers, grill and headlights similar to those of the Mark 4 models. New high-performance models included the 3.2L VR6 engined four-wheel-drive Golf R32 introduced in 2004, a 2.8 L four-wheel drive Golf VR6 4Motion version available succeeding the Mk3 VR6 which used a 2.8 L VR6 and only had front-wheel drive, as well as the famous 1.8T (turbo) 4cyl. that is shared between Audi and VW models.

As of 2008, certain variants of the Golf/Bora Mk4 were still in production in Brazil, China, and Mexico. Revised versions of the Mk4 are currently on sale in Canada marketed as the City Golf and City Jetta and Golf City and Jetta City in 2009. The two models are VW Canada's entry-level offerings. They received a significant freshening for the 2008 model year, including revised headlamps, taillamps, front and rear fascias, sound systems, and wheels. Both models are offered only with the 2.0 L, 8 valve SOHC 4-cylinder gasoline engine, rated at 115 hp. They are the only entry-level offerings with an optional 6 speed automatic. The production of Golf Mk4 for the US market ended in 2006. But for the European markets, the production of the fourth generation ended in 2003.

Golf Mk5 (A5/Typ 1K, 2003-2009)

In Germanymarker, the Volkswagen Golf Mk4 was succeeded by the Golf Mk5 in 2003 in Europe. This model did not reach the North American markets until model year 2006, where it was marketed as the Rabbit. The North American base model is powered by a 2.5L 5-cylinder engine. A GTI version is powered by a turbocharged version of the 2.0 FSI engine, producing 200PS.

Volkswagen also introduced the "Fast" marketing ploy for the North American market, dedicated to the "fast" that lives inside every driver. Drivers who purchase new GTI Mk5s from a dealership are shipped a model of said Fast, which employs GTI-like features, and appears as a small animal. The GTI version is the only one on sale in Mexico.

The saloon/sedan version, again called Volkswagen Jetta in most markets and built exclusively in Mexico (In Mexico this car is named Bora, in Europe it is now again named Jetta, as well), followed in 2004, a new Golf Variant in 2006. The Jetta however, is not the only variant, as the notchback version of the GTI can also be had in the GLI version. The front ends of the car are the same, with the only difference being that the GLI is a sedan, while the GTI is a "hot hatch".

Later models of the Mk5 introduced the 1.4 TSI turbocharged petrol engine.

In a comparison test conducted by Car and Driver Magazine, the Volkswagen Rabbit S was named the winner among eight small cars. While it was praised for its excellent driving position, fine instruments, and strong engine, it was criticized for having high levels of road noise, uncomfortable seats, and poor fuel economy. Though, the final verdict stated, "This one is all about driving pleasure, so it wins." The Rabbit also placed first in their final comparison in December 2006.

Golf Mk6 (A6/Typ 5K, 2009-)

Volkswagen based the latest Golf Mk6 on the existing PQ35 platform from the Golf Mk5. This vehicle was debuted at the 2008 Paris Motor Show.

The Mk6 Golf was designed by Volkswagen's chief designer Walter de'Silva, with design cues inspired from the previous generations of the Golf, particularly of that from the Mk1 and the Mk4. The design is said to be more aerodynamic, helping fuel efficiency, and is quieter than its predecessor. Following criticism of the downgraded interior trim quality of the Mk5 Golf in comparison to the Mk4, Volkswagen opted to overhaul the interior to match the quality with the Mk4 Golf, while maintaining the same user friendliness from the Mk5. The car will also be cheaper to build than its predecessor; Volkswagen claims that it will be able to pass on these savings to the customer as a result.

Turbocharged Direct Injection diesel engines which use the common rail direct injection will replace the longstanding Pumpe Düse (PD) Unit Injector system. New on the Golf, is the optional Volkswagen Adaptive Chassis Control, which will allow the driver to select between 'normal', 'comfort' and 'sports' modes, which will vary the suspension, steering and accelerator behaviour accordingly.

The Mk6 Golf was introduced for sale in Europe in January 2009.
North American version of the 2010 Golf shown at the 2009 Canadian International Autoshow
The car was introduced in North America in October 2009 as the 2010 Golf, rather than Rabbit.

Electric versions

VW CEO Martin Winterkorn announced Volkswagen Golf Twin Drive plug-in hybrid vehicle based on Mk5 Golf, which uses 2.0L 122hp turbodiesel and 82-hp electric motor with lithium-ion batteries. The car can run about 50 kilometres on battery power. The combined power is 174 HP.

Volkswagen developed the Twin Drive system with 8 German partners and is planning a trial fleet of 20 Golfs outfitted with the system in 2010.

The production version was expected to be based on Mk6 Golf featuring a 1.5L turbodiesel engine and electric motor, with estimated arrival date of 2015.

Other Twin Drive vehicles

See also


  1. Figures for 1974 to 1987: 4.7 million 3-door models, 2.55 million 5-doors, according to:
  2. All dates for Mk1 to Mk4 according to: and
  3. topCar: Goodbye Citi Golf
  4. Wall Street Journal VW to Cut Costs to Produce Golf June 9, 2008; pg B2
  5. 6th Generation Volkswagen Golf Details and Photos
  7. VW to fleet test Twin Drive Golf plug-in hybrid concept in 2010
  8. VW Golf Twin Drive Plug-In Hybrid Diesel Makes Prius Look Thirsty
  9. VW Twin Drive plug-in hybrids not due until 2015

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