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Long Live the King – The rise of the Golf

June, for the first time since 2014, the Ford Fiesta was dethroned from its reign as the highest-selling car in the UK, and was instead replaced by the 2017 Volkswagen Golf Mk7.5. A hatchback that is suitable for any occasion and location thanks to its feature-full interior, devilishly good looks and outstanding performance.

But it’s a bit more than that.

The Volkswagen Golf is not simply an evolutionary car; it is in fact a revolutionary celebration of German motoring and engineering which owes its roots to the sharpened pencils of Giorgetto Giugiaro, a highly-decorated automobile designer.

The Italian’s creation, which has gone on to become one of the most recognised vehicles on our roads today, began life on 29 March 1974. It was on this date in Wolfsburg the first front-engined, front-wheel drive Mk1 Golf, named after the German for ‘gulf stream’, entered production to replace the highly-popular Beetle.

However, there was an issue. Just one month after going on sale the global bear market crash of 1974 hit, and over the course of 22 months 32,761 VW employees were made redundant. But even in the midst of an economic recession fuelled by an oil crisis, the Golf was able to claim a stronghold within the recently-discovered hatchback market.

It took only two years for the family-friendly Mk1 to soar past one-million sales, but during this time VW’s boffins were preparing an alternative version, a harder version, a faster version; the Golf GTI.

Offering 40bhp more than the standard 70bhp Golf, the GTI quickly became the benchmark in the new-fangled concept of hot hatchbacks, something that still holds strong today. However, as with everything in life, in order to survive there must be evolutionary change, and following the Mk1’s success the Mk2 was born.

Debuting in 1983 the wider and longer edition held the thrown for eight years, selling 6.3million units in the process before being replaced itself in 1991 by the 2.0 litre, softer-edged, 1992 European Car of the Year Mk3.

During its six-year reign 1,000 special edition Golf GTI’s were released celebrating the 20th anniversary of the iconic hot-hatch. However, less than 12 months later Volkswagen introduced the even more safety conscious Mk4, a higher-range of model that attracted a different kind of clientele for the first time in the Golf’s history.

During this edition’s life-span awards were not uncommon. Car of the Year, Manufacturer of the Year and Hatchback of the Year were just some of VW’s accreditations throughout this trophy-riddled spell for the German company, and it didn’t stop there.

The larger and faster Mk5 and subtly updated Mk6 both entered dealerships over the next 11 years and success followed. However, over the course Mk5’s spell, Volkswagen took another step in securing motoring royalty status.

For the first time in 2005 the “people’s car” brand offered an even more performance-focused supermini than the GTI in the shape of the Golf R32. A 3.2 litre, four-wheel drive, narrow angled, six-cylinder-engined beast that trumped any predecessor for raw speed, power and pure enjoyment.

But just three years down the line they decided the Mk6 was ready to take the next step in the model’s 34-year tenure, calling an end to the R32 as we know it. This was of course before the Mk6 was replaced itself five years after due to the arrival of the much-enhanced Mk7.

The Mk7, until recently, led Volkswagen’s flagship division, but earlier this year was relieved of its duties thanks to the introduction of the Mk7.5 along with the third-edition, utterly mesmerising Golf R.

And this is where we find ourselves today; the best-selling car in the UK.

I wonder why.

View Volkswagen Golf offers here or contact your local Lookers Volkswagen dealer.