Numerous books have been written about Volkswagen’s Golf, the world’s most popular car. (or is it number 2?) The Toyota Corolla, but only in name, outnumbers the Golf, nee Rabbit. Corolla’s early versions had rear-wheel-drive (RWD), before changing the car’s layout to FWD, but keeping the name. Therefore, the Corolla(s) is (are?) actually two different cars.
If Volkswagen could, or would add the number of Beetles produced to the total of Golf production, the two models together would add to about 60 million manufactured.
The original Beetle was not a name given to it by the company; it was simply a nickname –it was a Volkswagen ‘Type 1’ with myriad changes and improvements — until its reincarnation as the ‘New Beetle’, the new Käfer’s (Bug’s) now official name. Many barely visible changes were made to both Beetles, and the ‘New Beetle’ lives on.
When Volkswagen changed from RWD to FWD, they gave the new car a name and a different shape.
Before the calendar turned to 1970, the company realized that an air-cooled, RWD car could and should be improved upon. VW asked the renowned Italian design studio, lead by Giorgetto Giugiaro, to create a new model to replace the ‘Bug’.
In 1974 the first generation of the new Volkswagen, which did not look at all like a VW, appeared. Bingo! It sold beyond all expectations. Giugiaro had created a ‘homerun’, a ‘slam-dunk’, a legend in the making.
One styling element common to all seven Golf generations is the C-pillar, as seen in the photo above. Viewed from the side, the A-pillar holds the windshield; the B-pillar supports the front door lock and roof; the Golf’s characteristic ‘elbow-type’, wide C-pillar can be seen above the rear wheel.
You and your relatives, your friends, and neighbors, everyone knows the Golf; so let’s fast forward and look at things about the Golf not everyone is aware of — yet.
In its seventh generation since 2012, and now 40 years young, the Mk VII certainly does not suffer from a ’mid-life’ crisis. In fact, it is sure to cure that infliction of many who long for “that special car”.
The VW Golf now comes in so many varieties that most every automotive desire can be relieved; — alternative transportation for everyone.
From ‘econo-box’ to Ferrari beater, there is a Golf for every taste, occasion and budget. The basic version comes with several sizes of gasoline (TSI) or diesel (TDI) engines. A sportier model, the GTI or GTD comes with more horsepower and other niceties.
Volkswagen offers the Golf adapted for real gas (compressed natural gas, CNG) as the TGI, or as a plug-in hybrid, the Golf GTE. The new battery-electric version is the e-Golf, while a fast one -more or less- compact sport version is the Golf R with close to 400 horsepower.
Visible differences are a few: a two-door, a four-door and a station wagon, termed Variant in Europe; a Golf SV SportVan is a little higher, while the Golf Alltrack has more ground clearance and undercarriage protection for off-roading.
The Golf’s hometown is named after the Wolfsburg castle, first documented in 1302. The city was re-named Golfsburg for short time of celebration in 2003 by its frenetically proud and happy mayor. BTW, the mayor’s name is Rolf Schnellecke, literally translated meaning FastCorner.
At one time named Rabbit in North America, the power-plant under the bonnet making the Golf hop along, comes with three, four, five or six pistons; it comes with turbochargers, superchargers, twin-chargers or electric Kompressors. At one time, likely after much merriment, a group of speed freaks cobbled together a Golf with a W12-cylinder engine, just for fun.
At 2014 auto shows, two more versions made an appearance as production-ready concepts: a powerful Golf Roadster and a Golf SportWagen with hydrogen fuel cell propulsion based on the e-Golf’s drivetrain.
Volkswagen credits this great variability to its development of MQB, the Group’s modular building box. It is estimated that 300,000 variations are possible, and 1140 robots now produce a Golf every 20 seconds.
As to fuel cell drivetrains, VW claims since 2006 that only by about 2020 will it make sense to mass-produce FCVs, price-wise and H2 infrastructure dependent; — H2 = Hydrogen, the alternative transportation fuel for the next decade.
Before the end of this decade, fifty years after the first Golf was planned and developed, the eighth generation will be upon us. Fabrizio Giugiaro of ItalDesign is now continuing his father’s legacy. Together with scientists, engineers, technicians, and crafts people from different occupations in Italy and Germany, the eighth generation Golf is under development that will offer new advancements and opportunities.
For writing about various makes in such complimentary terms, you might think that this writer is being paid handsomely; — that remains a wish, so far. In the meantime, the passion of a self-confessed Wheel-Nut gets out of hand occasionally.