Mk1 (1974 until 1983)
The Golf Mk1 was launched in 1974 and is still produced today – albeit extensively modified – as an economically priced entry-level model in South Africa parallel to the current model range. Over 6.8 million units have been produced so far.
1974 – Debut of the first Golf
1976 – 500,000th Golf in March; 1,000,000th Golf in October; First Golf GTI; First Golf with diesel engine
1978 – 2,000,000th Golf in June; Debut of the US version Rabbit in July
1979 – 3,000,000th Golf in September; First Golf Cabriolet; Minor facelift
1982 – 5,000,000th Golf in February; First Golf with turbodiesel engine
Mk2 (1984 until 1992)
The Golf Mk2 followed in 1983, and in the UK the following year. Over 6.3 million units of this generation were produced in ten years – on average approximately 630,000 units per year.
1983 – Debut of the second Golf
1984 – Debut of the second Golf GTI
1985 – 7,000,000th Golf in March
1986 – First Golf (GTI) with 16-valve petrol engine
1987 – ABS available for all GT and GTI models; Minor facelift
1988 – Debut of the Rallye Golf G60 – some LHD examples imported to UK; 10,000,000th Golf in June; 11,000,000th Golf in October
1990 – All Golf petrol models available with closed-loop catalytic converters from February; 1,000,000th Golf GTI in November; 12,000,000th Golf in November
Mk3 (1992 until 1998)
The Golf Mk3, of which 4.8 million units were built, was launched on to the UK market in 1992.
1991 – Debut of the third Golf; First Golf diesel with oxidation catalytic converter; First Golf with six-cylinder engine (VR6); simultaneously; First model in the lower mid-range with a six-cylinder engine
1992 – 13,000,000th Golf in February; Driver and front passenger airbag available from August
1993 – First Golf with turbodiesel direct injection (TDI) engine; Debut of the second Golf Cabriolet; First Golf Estate; 14,000,000th Golf in March
1994 – 15,000,000th Golf in May
1995 – First Golf with naturally aspirated diesel direct injection (SDI) engine
1996 – 20th anniversary of the Golf GTI / anniversary model of the Golf GTI; First Golf GTI with turbodiesel engine; 17,000,000th Golf in November
Mk4 (1998 until 2004)
The Golf Mk4 debuted in 1997, and was launched in the UK in 1998. Over the last seven years until 2003, 4.3 million units of the best-seller were produced and, on average, approximately 614,000 units were sold per year.
1997 – Debut of the first Golf with fully galvanised body; First Golf with five-cylinder engine (V5)
1998 – Debut of the new Golf Cabriolet; First Golf 4MOTION with Haldex viscous coupling; Introduction of optional ESP (Electronic Stabilisation Programme)
1999 – Second Golf Estate launched; First TDI engines with Pumpe Düse unit-injector technology in the Golf; 19,000,000th Golf in June
2002 – Golf GTI 180 PS launched as special edition marking the 25th anniversary of the Golf GTI in the UK; Production of the Golf overtakes the Beetle; at 21,517,415 units it becomes the most-produced Volkswagen model to date; Debut of the Golf R32, the most powerful in production Golf ever with 241 PS
2002 – becomes the Golf’s best year in the UK to date, with 72,362 units sold, while it also finishes the year as the country’s best-selling diesel car
2003 – End of year: phase-out of the fourth generation Golf after sales of more than 4.3 million units; Frankfurt Motor Show: world premiere of the Golf Mk5
2004 – Golf Mk5 launched on 30 January