Το ημερολόγιο έγραφε 29 Μαρτίου 1974 όταν η Volkswagen έβγαζε για πρώτη φορά από το εργοστάσιο της στο Wolfsburg το Golf, ένα αυτοκίνητο που σίγουρα ούτε η ίδια το πίστευε τότε, πως θα γνωρίσει τέτοια επιτυχία, χαρακτηρίζοντας ουσιαστικά μια κατηγορία.
Μέσα σε αυτά τα 40 χρόνια έχουν κυκλοφορήσει 7 γενιές Golf, έχοντας πουλήσει περισσότερα από 30 εκατ. μονάδες! Το νούμερο αυτό βάζει το Golf στη τρίτη θέση των καλύτερων πωλήσεων όλων των εποχών του κόσμου, από κάθε μάρκα.
Η πρώτη γενιά, σχεδιασμένη από τον Giorgio Giugiaro και το Volkswagen Design, σταμάτησε το 1983, τότε που έκανε την εμφάνιση του το Golf II. Μεγαλύτερο και πιο ευρύχωρο σε σχέση με το Golf I, κράτησε στην αγορά έως το 1991, τότε που η VW αποφάσισε να δώσει καμπύλες στο Golf, αλλά και τον εκπληκτικό εξακύλινδρο κινητήρα με τα 190 άλογα στην έκδοση VR6. Το 1997 παρουσιάστηκε το Golf 4 με το οποίο έφερε στην αγορά την έκδοση R32 αλλά και το DSG κιβώτιο , ενώ το 2003 έκανε ντεμπούτο το Golf 5. Το 2008 η Volkswagen γεννήθηκε η έκτη γενιά, ενώ το 2012 ξεκίνησε την καριέρα του το Golf 7.
40 years of Golf: best-seller, trend-setter and icon
Volkswagen is celebrating the 40th birthday of the most successful European car of all time: the Golf. To this very day, more than 30 million vehicles of the best-seller have been sold. From day one, the Golf has reflected technological progress.
Whether turbo engine, direct-injection engine, electric or plug-in hybrid drive system; whether ABS, ESC, XDS or 4MOTION; whether Adaptive Cruise Control, City Emergency Braking, trailer stabilisation or Automatic Post-Collision Braking System; whether automatic air conditioning, Dynaudio sound system, touchscreen with proximity sensor or LED headlights; whether Trendline, Comfortline, Highline, GTI, GTD or GTE – it was always the Golf through which the most important technologies and trends of our time were democratised.
Golf I. The first series production Golf rolled off the assembly line in Wolfsburg on 29 March 1974. Where for decades the Beetle and thus rear-mounted engines and rear-wheel drive had dominated the scene, a new era had now dawned: that of the transversely mounted front engine and front-wheel drive.
As the successor to the legendary Beetle, of which over 21.5 million units were built, the Golf I, designed by Giorgio Giugiaro and Volkswagen Design, had to live up to the immense expectations that it would carry on the success story of what until then was the world’s most successful car. It worked: The modern and reliable drive concept, the excellent spatial economy and ultimately the design as well, won over the market to such an extent that production of the one-millionth Golf was already being celebrated in October 1976.
In launching the first Golf GTI (in 1976), Volkswagen heralded the introduction of greater dynamism in this class, while the Golf D (naturally aspirated diesel engine, 1976) and the later Golf GTD (turbodiesel, 1982) marked the breakthrough for diesel cars in the compact segment. With the Golf Cabriolet, introduced in 1979, Volkswagen launched an open car on the market that was at times the best-selling open car in the world.
Golf II. As of August 1983, passengers no longer sat quite so close to each other, since spatial utilisation had been improved once more. As a matter of fact: it was the Golf that introduced the regulated catalytic converter (1984), anti-lock braking system (ABS, 1986) and power-steering to the Golf class and that could be ordered with an all-wheel drive system for the first time (syncro, 1986).
Golf III. With the launch of the third generation of the Golf in August 1991, Volkswagen heralded a new era of safety. The Golf III was the first of the series to have front airbags, starting in 1992, while major advances in the area of car body construction also resulted in significantly improved crash safety. In addition, numerous other technological milestones of the model range are linked to the third Golf. Many new features made their debuts in this new Golf: the first six cylinder engine (VR6), cruise control, oxidation catalytic converter for diesel engines (1991) and the first direct injection diesel engines (TDI in 1993). Likewise, ABS became a standard feature on all Golf models in 1996. In 1993, Volkswagen had also introduced a new convertible based on the Golf III, a new all-wheel drive model (syncro II) and the first Golf Variant (an estate).
Golf IV. Under the direction of Hartmut Warkuß, then Head of Design at Volkswagen (Group), the Golf IV crystallized the clear, precise design that lived up to the history of the Volkswagen brand more than ever before while setting its course to the future. With the debut of ESC (in 1998), the car continued to democratise safety. Also in 1998, Volkswagen unveiled the first all-wheel Golf with a Haldex clutch – the Golf 4MOTION. One year later, ESC became a standard feature, initially in Germany. The first direct-injection engine (FSI) and the debut of the standard head airbag (window airbags) followed in 2002. Also in 2002, Volkswagen launched the R32, with a top speed of 250 km/h. It was this top model of the range that in 2003 was the first to debut with the revolutionary dual-clutch gearbox (DSG).
Golf V. This was the Golf that boasted levels of comfort and dynamic performance that left many a competitor in its class way behind in 2003. The same went for the car’s security. One factor that underlines the stability of the laser-welded bodywork was the 35 per cent increase in torsion rigidity demonstrated when the Golf V made its debut in 2003. On request, the Golf was now also available for the first time with side airbags – together with the six standard airbags (front, side front and window) there were thus eight protective air buffers on board. In terms of comfort as well as dynamic performance, the Golf V scored in numerous areas, including: its new four-link rear suspension, seven-speed DSG, bi-xenon headlights, panoramic sliding sunroof, plus the world’s first twincharger (in the 2006 TSI), combining turbo- and supercharger. In 2006, the Golf Plus had its debut; in 2007, the CrossGolf, a new Estate and the extremely fuel-efficient Golf BlueMotion (4.5 l/100 km).
Golf VI. In just four years, a further 2.85 million Golf cars had been produced by the end of July 2012, based on the sixth generation of the car launched in 2008. And once again safety made great advances too: the car body was so rugged that it passed the EuroNCAP crash test with flying colours, gaining the maximum five stars. Meanwhile, more TSI engines and a transition among the turbodiesel engines (TDI) from unit injection to the common rail system resulted in greater dynamic performance and lower fuel consumption. A top performer in the latter discipline was the second Golf BlueMotion with a combined fuel consumption of just 3.8 l/100 km, equivalent to 99 g/km CO2. New assistance systems – such as Light Assist automatic main beam management, Park Assist, etc – made the sixth generation the most advanced Golf to date.
Golf VII. On 4 September 2012, Volkswagen celebrated the world premiere of the seventh Golf. The weight of the new Golf was reduced by up to 100 kg, thereby reversing the often cited upward weight spiral. Fuel economy was improved by a maximum of 23 percent, depending on engine selection. The new Golf TDI BlueMotion1 consumes only 3.2 l/100 km (equivalent to 85 g of CO2/km) under standard NEDC conditions. In addition, Volkswagen has equipped the Golf with an entire armada of new assistance systems on the market – some as options and others as standard. In 2014, Volkswagen electrifies the compact class with the Golf: the all-electric e-Golf2 with a range of around 190 kilometres is already available to buy. In addtion, the new Golf GTE3 will be launched in autumn. Its plug-in hybrid drive system achieves a standard fuel consumption of 1.5 l/100 km; in all-electric mode, the Golf GTE can be driven for 50 kilometres.
The Golf is the most successful model ever built by Volkswagen. In the summer of 2013 the 30 millionth Golf was built – a seventh-generation model. The seventh-generation Golf is produced in Wolfsburg (Germany), Zwickau (Germany), Foshan (China) and Puebla (Mexico). 1 Golf TDI BlueMotion: Fuel consumption in l/100 km: 3.5 (urban) / 3.0 (extra urban) / 3.2 combined), CO2 emissions in g/km: 85 (combined), efficiency class: A+ 2 e-Golf power consumption in kWh/100 km: 12.7 (combined); CO2 emission in g/km: 0 (combined); efficiency class: A+ 3 Golf GTE: fuel consumption (combined) 1,5 l/100 km, CO2 emissions (combined): 35 g/km, efficiency class: A+