By subscribing we will send you emails containing offers. You can read our privacy policy here.

Volkswagen marks 50 years of iconic Golf with new model

 Published 16th May 2024
New Launches 

The new Volkswagen Golf has gone on sale 50 years after the launch of the original motoring icon.

The new Golf features a refreshed design and updated technology, including AI-capabilities with ChatGPT integration.

Initially there will be Life, Match and Style trims for the Golf hatch, while the estate gets Life and Style specification. Engine and transmission choices begin with a 1.5 TSI 115PS manual and a mild-hybrid 1.5 eTSI 115 PS automatic.

A Golf R-Line will follow featuring 17-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights, leather-wrapped and heated multi-function sports steering wheel, a rear-view camera, and adaptive cruise control.

Future variants will include another icon, the Golf GTI, along with the eHybrid and GTE.

new VW Golf rear

The updated model features an enhanced multi-function steering wheel with the return of physical buttons.

Drivers can also speak to a ChatGPT-enabled voice assistant called IDA to control vehicle functions or obtain online information and directions.

The first Golf was a successor to another Volkswagen icon, the Beetle, and arrived at the start of 1974. More than 37 million units have been built since the original Golf launched. On average, over the past 50 years, 2,000 Golfs have been sold every day worldwide.

For many business drivers, the Volkswagen Golf has become an established choice on company car car lists.

Eight generations of the Golf – a 50-year success story

Golf I (1974 - 1983)

The first-generation Golf broke new ground, with ingenious use of space for the time and front-wheel drive. Two years later (1976), the first Golf GTI arrived and changed the language of motoring forever. Diesel variants were followed by the Golf Cabriolet – once the best-selling convertible car in the world.

Total sold: 6.9 million.

Golf II (1983 – 1991)

This was a milestone for the Golf, with chief designer Herbert Schäfer honing the car’s iconic look and getting everything right. The model was the basis on which all future iterations were based. This generation introduced catalytic converters, anti-lock brakes and all-wheel drive.

Total sold: 6.3 million.

Golf III (1991 – 1997)

In a safety-first move, Volkswagen introduced front airbags from 1992, side airbags and upgraded crash protection, along with cruise control. The six-cylinder VR6 arrived and for the first time the Golf was available as an estate model.

Total sold: 4.8 million.

Golf IV (1997 - 2003)

Enhancements to styling harked back to the original Golf and created one of the best-looking generations of the iconic car. The introduction of electronic skid prevention enhanced road safety, but the model’s sporting credentials were not forgotten, with the R32 variant. The ground-breaking DSG direct-shift gearbox also made its debut.

Total sold: 4.9 million units.

Golf V (2003 - 2008)

Comfort and quality were driven to new heights in the latest model as competitors fought to challenge 30 years of dominance by the Golf. New features arriving during the model’s life included four-link rear suspension, bi-xenon headlights and the first 7-speed DSG gearbox. Passengers in the laser-welded body were also protected by eight airbags.

Total sold: 3.4 million.

Golf VI (2008 - 2012)

Safety and technology were combined in this generation as it delivered stellar results in the Euro NCAP tests. New technologies that enhanced safety included automatic headlights, parking assistance, hill start control and adaptive chassis control. As one of the most advanced cars for its time, it was named 2009 ‘World Car of the Year’. Total sold: 3.6 million.

Golf VII (2012 – 2019)

As motorists demanded greater efficiency with no loss of performance, Volkswagen reduced the weight of the new Golf by 100kg compared with its predecessor and slashed fuel consumption by up to 23 per cent. New technologies included automatic braking following a collision, adaptive cruise control, and automated emergency braking at low speeds. A milestone in its development included the first variant powered by electric energy, the e-Golf.

Total sold: 6.3 million

Golf VIII (2019 - today)

A growing number of zero-emission alternatives have joined the range with mild and plug-in hybrid drives. It is also kept up to date with the latest technology, from lane keeping assistance and other automated driving features, through to LED headlights and adaptive chassis control. The latest variant on the road from 2024 features an illuminated logo on the front for the first time, while it also introduces AI-based features including ChatGPT, so you can have a conversation with your car.

Sold to date: 1 million

Learn more about the history of the Volkswagen Golf

Click here for pictures of the iconic Volkswagen hatch.

Watch the review of 50 years of Golf thanks to Practical Classics

View our latest blog posts