Text size


The history of the Volkswagen Golf

The history of the Volkswagen Golf


The Golf is known throughout the world - but how has it changed over the years?

The Volkswagen Golf is a household name.

Loved throughout the world, it’s a car which speaks to almost everyone on multiple levels thanks to its time-honoured build quality and great driver involvement. It’s been around for some time now - and we’ve moved onto the eighth-generation car now too - but throughout the years it has changed and adapted to remain one of the best in the business.

Let’s take a look at how the Golf has changed through time.

Golf MK I

First released in 1974, the original Golf made waves when it came onto the scene. Efficient, practical and great to look at, the Golf was an innovative car from the get-go with features such as a clean diesel engine showing it’s acknowledgement of cleaner technologies.

Volkswagen Golf Mark 1It was an instant hit, and by 1976 - just two years after release - the 500,000th Golf had been created. By October, that had pushed past the one million mark. In total, more than 6.8 million MK I Golfs have been produced. 

Golf MK II

How do you follow up on an icon? It’s no mean feat, that’s for sure, which is why Volkswagen left the Golf’s formula relatively unchanged for the second generation. It arrived in 1983, showcasing a refreshed look which managed to build on the looks of its predecessor without detaching from it too far. 

Volkswagen Golf Mark 2

In 1986 the first Golf with a 16-valve engine arrived, while anti-lock-brakes - a cutting-edge feature for the time - were made available in 1987. It too proved popular - it appeared that Volkswagen had nailed the tricky second album. 


Volkswagen revealed its follow-up third-generation Golf in 1992. It arrived with a six-cylinder engine in VR6-badged models, which was the first time that such a luxurious high-end engine had been incorporated into a relatively entry-level car.

Volkswagen Golf Mark 3

A more practical option came around in 1993 with the very first Golf Estate, and though the MK III isn’t the most-loved Golf generation, it’s still a key part of the model’s history.

Golf MK IV

The MK IV is often thought of as the first ‘modern’ Golf; it was rounder and a little more grown-up than before and it’s fair to say that it isn’t looked back on as fondly as the rest of the Golf range.

Volkswagen Golf Mark 5

It arrived in 1998 and was built until 2004. It was the first Golf to feature a fully galvanised body - putting the rust fears of the past to bed - and it was the first Golf to get all-wheel-drive thanks to Volkswagen’s new 4MOTION system.

Golf MK V

The MK V represented a real leap forward for the Golf. Arriving in the UK in 2004, it was much larger and wider than the car it replaced, making for a more spacious and comfortable cabin. The steering had been revamped too, while the suspension had undergone an overhaul to make it even more comfortable than before.Volkswagen Golf Mark 5An efficient range of engines was available, while a range-topping GTI followed on from its forebears by providing plenty of performance in a useable daily package. 

Golf MK VI

The shift from V to VI was blink-and-you’ll-miss-it similar for the Golf; indeed, many questioned whether Volkswagen had changed anything at all when the new model was introduced in 2009. It was definitely more a case of evolution rather than revolution, though high-end new features such as adaptive chassis control helped the Golf to stay sharp.

Golf Mark 6

New airbags were fitted too, while an advanced electronic stability programme helped to make the sixth-generation Golf safer than ever.


The changes were just as subtle for the seventh-generation Golf. Some 38 years after the original arrived on the scene the MK VII evolved once again, tweaking the styling of its predecessor slightly, yet benefitting from a longer wheelbase resulting in more interior space.

Volkswagen Golf Mark 7

High-tech features appeared for the first time, with park assist being one notable piece of technology. This allowed the Golf to park itself, making getting into tighter spaces swift and easy. 

Golf 8

So here we are - the present day. The Golf, now in its eighth generation, is more high-tech than ever, with a dashboard which is almost completely digital. Underpinned by a cutting-edge platform, the Golf has been designed to be more spacious and easier to live with than ever before. 

New Volkswagen Golf Mark 8

It’s also strikingly different in design to its predecessors, yet it’s still recognisable as a Golf. Where will things go from here? Only the future will tell us. But we’re certain that the Golf will remain a motoring stable for years to come. 

Learn more about the latest Volkswagen Golf     Search our used VW Golf stock