Founded in 1937, Volkswagen has accomplished a lot in its 84 year history, from innovating the market space with iconic vehicles such as the Volkswagen Beetle (which sadly stopped production in 2019 ) to reinvigorating the market with its bold new range of electric models.
Volkswagen has a steep history of being future-thinking and not surprisingly has a cult following as a result.
In this article, we take a look at some of the most iconic models from Volkswagen throughout the years including the Beetle, Golf & New ID.3 .
Commissioned by Adolf Hitler, this was the first model ever produced by Volkswagen and it was designed to be affordable. practical and reliable. Due to the second world war production of significant numbers didn’t begin until the 1940’s.
Later models as the years went on included varying engine sizes and additional safety features. The original Beetle is known for its unique shape and curvy body the original beetle was a massive hit with the affectionate nickname given to it during the 1960’s with the ethos of “small is beautiful” ethos.
In 1963 the Volkswagen Beetle would reach mainstream success in Hollywood as it featured in the 1968 feature film Herbie, The Love Bug across all 6 of its mainstream movie appearances.
The beetle would go on to have many different models throughout the years but its original and iconic design was always maintained with the final production of the beetle taking place in 2019.
In 1974, Volkswagen introduced the Golf model to the Volkswagen family. Volkswagen Chief Designer Klaus Bischoff described the impact of this when he said “The step from the Beetle to the Golf was revolutionary.
With the switch from the air-cooled rear engine to the water-cooled front engine, a completely new vehicle layout was created at the time.” The key design changes of the golf was the introduction of an angular design compared to the round shape of the beetle.
Bischoff went on to describe these changes when he said “The main design elements of the Golf I – the silhouette with the upright, solid C-pillar, the striking wheel arches and the horizontal front with the slim grille and the headlights protruding downwards – are still to be found in every Golf today.
A marketing campaign with the slogan “The new popular sport: Golf” – a vision that was to come true,' was also run to mark the models debut. This model would be highly successful with the first generation and Volkswagen Beetle's successor selling 6.99 million times.
In 1983, Volkswagen introduced the second generation of the Volkswagen Golf which followed a similar DNA of the original while adding some progressive new details. The company itself described this development when they said, “The Golf must remain a Golf.
So, no new design departs from the Golf concept – but nevertheless a new car from bumper-to-bumper according to the motto: continuity in the concept, progress in detail and quality. The rear is radically designed: the taillights of the Golf I are positioned at the very bottom just above the bumper – in the case of the Golf II they now move further up. No other car in 1983 had this.
The new vehicle is a manifestation of the “Golf phenomenon” -the Volkswagen par excellence. It becomes the mirror image of the brand: a compact car with a cross-class status that reaches all levels of society. “Production of the second generation Golf took place in June 1983 and featured some technical innovations such as the anti-lock braking system (ABS), power steering and the “Syncro,” the first all-wheel drive Golf.
This was ahead of the curve and showcased the brand's intent of being innovators from the get-go when it came to fossil fuel alternatives. In total the Golf II sold over 6 million units by 1991.
The third generation Volkswagen Golf debuted in 1991 and was a unique presence on the road due to hanks to its much wider track, and even in the lower powered versions the wheels are flush with the body, unlike its predecessor.
It also featured a wedge form that made it more aerodynamic. Chief designer Herbert Schäfer described it when he said “As we moved from the first to the second Golf, we made the car bigger, installed more powerful engines and gave it better handling. In the third generation, design now plays a greater role. We found a look that is typical of the Golf, which radiates safety and quality.”
Volkswagen also added safety features such as front airbags from 1992, which significantly improved the vehicles road safety. It also featured technical innovations such as the six-cylinder engine , cruise control system, oxidation catalytic converter for diesel engines and the direct-injection diesel engine (TDI), which raised the subject of diesel and driving dynamics to a completely new level.
This model proved equally as successful with 4.8 million units sold.
Continuity leads to success and in 1997 Volkswagen presented the Golf MK4. This car was designed to incorporate the history of the golf model via its design with a long roof, steep rear and the powerful C-pillar form part of the brand’s design DNA.
Not only was it visually ground-breaking, the fourth generation golf achieved a new quality standard in its segment and broke through class boundaries.
On its 25th birthday, a special GTI model with 132 kW / 180 hp, the Golf GTI "Edition 25", which is now in great demand as a collector's item, was launched. Additionally In 2002, Volkswagen presented the most sporty Golf to date: the 250 km/h fast Golf R32. This top model in the series is available for the first time with the revolutionary, fast and economical double-clutch gearbox (DSG).
In June 2002, the Golf overtakes the Beetle. With 21,517,415 models produced, it becomes the most built Volkswagen of all time. By 2003, 4.99 million units of the Golf IV had been produced.
In 2003, the Golf marks the milestone of becoming the best-selling car from Germany for almost three decades. It is regarded as “das Auto” par excellence, as the only vehicle in the compact class with a classless status.
The fifth generation of the Golf incorporated the DNA of the first generation again but number V itself is visually reinvented. The design with the characteristic C-pillar, the powerful rear, the emphatically sporty front end and the muscular silhouette rising to the rear is dynamic.
The fifth generation also impresses with many technical innovations, and it scores with the turbo gasoline direct injection system in the GTI and the world's first Twincharger (TSI).
It was the fifth generation of the Golf that for the first time outperformed many of its higher mid-range competitors in terms of comfort, dynamics and quality. In March 2007, the Golf celebrates a major anniversary: 25 million units have been produced since 1974. Over the lifetime of the fifth generation, 3.4 million units were sold, marking another history-making generation.
The Golf VI marks the beginning of a new era of Volkswagen Golf with new safety features and also a touch of luxury 2008.
The market launch took place under the slogan "Experience value anew". The laser-welded body is so stable that it achieved the maximum five stars in the EuroNCAP crash test. The knee airbag is now also on board as standard.
There are also a variety of assistance systems that we still value in the Golf today: automatic main beam control Light Assist, ParkAssist, Hill start assistant, electronic damper control DCC, the start/stop system, recuperation mode, the dynamic bend lighting and LED tail lights.
So, it’s no wonder that in 2009 the most advanced Golf to date will become the “World Car of the Year”. In the following four years, 2.85 million of the sixth generation Golf will roll off the production lines.
Golf VII – 2012 - 2019
The seventh Golf generation, launched in 2012, is the first Volkswagen model series based on the modular transverse kit (MQB). Thanks to the MQB and completely new proportions, the design is also becoming more dynamic. The front wheels thus move significantly forwards. As a result, the front overhang becomes shorter and the bonnet optically longer.
Technologically, its design set new standards: its weight has been reduced by 100 kilograms, and fuel consumption is up to 23 percent lower, depending on the engine. The seventh generation of the Golf established a new type of digitized display and operating elements in the segment and brought even more assistance systems in the luxury class to the compact class. No other model has ever been more closely networked with its environment.
Another milestone was the electrification of the compact class in 2014: the all-electric e-Golf2 already had a range of around 190 kilometres at that time. Shortly afterwards, the Golf GTE3 with plug-in hybrid (PHEV) drive was launched.
The arrival of the new Volkswagen Golf 8 uses the best of the previous generation and gently evolves to incorporate some new impressive elements.. This is highlighted via the gently evolved exterior styling. Like its predecessor, the Mark 8 Golf sits on Volkswagen Group's MQB platform. This is the automotive Swiss army knife architecture that underpins everything from the Europe-market Polo subcompact to the Atlas SUV.
The Mark 8 has a digital instrument cluster as standard, there's a large touchscreen in the centre of the dashboard, and many functions will be handled with what Volkswagen is describing as "sliders." These touch-sensitive controls will operate things such as the climate-control temperature and the sunroof on the roof console.
Given its beautiful design, reputation and large fuel options, including hybrid, its no surprise to see the golf is as popular as ever even in its eight generation. With more than 35 million Golfs having been produced through seven generations since the first was launched in 1974.
Volkswagen's latest entry into the hatchback market is the new ID.3. This is the fully electric version clearly inspired by vast history of both the beetle and golf but with a future-focused and electric twist. It has all the bells and whistles you would expect from a premium Volkswagen this time in the form of a sporty hatchback.
The ID.3 has a stunning exterior with sharp angles, which make it one of the most futuristic models on the market. There’s also three different battery types to choose from which can deliver range from 330km to 550km per charge.
The current 1D.3 1st special edition is available with a choice of four colours and has three different versions. Standard features include 18-inch alloy wheels, a large ‘Discovery’ multimedia touchscreen, a leather steering wheel, heated seats, adaptive cruise control with traffic stop-and-go, two-zone climate control, and LED headlights.
This model has the same grants available as the larger ID.4 but the ID.3 is probably is the ideal option for those who love traditional golf and want to drive a fully electric hatchback of the same ilk.
Volkswagen has had many hugely successful models over the years and with the arrival of the ID.3 and the mainstay success of the golf it looks like there’s no slowing the brand down and as they head into the future doing what they do best, setting the industry standard by being both different and customer driven in the process.
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