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7 ways the new VW Golf has changed over 7 generations

We look at how the newly updated Volkswagen Golf differs from the Golf Mk1.

Image: VW

THE VOLKSWAGEN GOLF has been a familiar sight on our roads for more than four decades now. With over 136,000 sold in Ireland since it was launched and 33 million units sold worldwide, it is the most successful model in Volkswagen’s history.

Earlier this month, Volkswagen launched the updated MkVII version to the Irish market, making this the Mk7.5. (Is that the MkVII.V? Maybe not.)

With this in mind we’ve decided to take a look at the updated Golf and see just how much it has changed since 1974.

1. From 50hp to… scorchio!

Source: Richard Pardon

The MkI entry level 1.1-litre Golf produced 50hp and 78Nm of pulling power. It had a top speed of 140km/h and could go from 0-100km/h in 15.8 seconds.

The updated entry level 1.0-litre Golf produces 85hp and 175Nm of torque. It has a top speed of 180km and can go from 0-100km/h in 11.9 seconds. The updated GTI now makes 230hp and 350Nm of torque, has a top speed of 250km/h and can do the 0-100km/h dash in 6.4 seconds.

However, the GTI is no longer the most powerful Golf – that crown has been snatched by the Golf R which makes 310hp and 380Nm of torque, has a top speed of 250km/h and has a 0-100km/h time of 5.1 seconds. Scorchio!

2. From little to really quite big

Source: Paddy McGrath

The original three-door Golf had a simple unibody structure and was light weighing in at around 750kg. The updated three-door Golf has gotten heavier, mostly due to safety requirements, and has a kerb weight of 1,206kg – almost an extra half a tonne.

The new Golf is also longer at 4,258mm compared to 3,820mm, wider 1,790mm compared to 1,610mm and taller too at 1,620mm compared to 1,410mm. That’s significant growth all round.

3. From laissez-faire to buckle up!

Source: Richard Pardon

The original was a little sparse on safety features, although the 1975 Golf was the first commercial car to use automatic seat belts. The updated MkVII Golf has driver’s and front passenger’s airbags and a driver’s knee airbag as well as a curtain airbag system for front and rear passengers including front side airbags.

The new Golf really wants you to buckle up – it has a seat belt tensioner in front and a warning buzzer and warning light if seat belts aren’t fastened. It also has a tonne of other safety features including a post-collision braking system and a forward collision warning ‘Front Assist’ system with pedestrian recognition warning.

4. From dials to touch screen

Source: Richard Pardon

The interior of the MkI Golf was spacious and comfortable with a simple analogue instrument pod in front of the driver and bolt-upright seating. The updated Golf has seats with lumbar support and electronic adjustment so you can actually find a relaxing driving position.

It also features a fully configurable, interactive 12-inch TFT display which replaces the standard analogue instrument cluster and a nine-inch touchscreen infotainment system with voice and gesture control! The original had a simple push-button radio, no air-con and you had to lock and unlock every door individually.

5. From four-speed manual to a world of options

Source: Paddy McGrath

On launch, the MkI Golf was offered with a 1.1 or 1.5-litre petrol engine with four-speed manual gearbox.  Later on, a 1.3-litre engine was added to the lineup and a three-speed gearbox was introduced for the 1.5-litre engine. A GTI hot hatch model was introduced in 1976 with a legendary fuel injected 110hp 1.6-litre petrol engine mated to a close-ratio four-speed gearbox.

The updated Golf is still offered in petrol, diesel and GTI variants, but the updated GTI is now powered by a 2.0-litre turbo direct injection engine. The updated Golf can also be had as a diesel hot hatch GTD (Gran Turismo Diesel), performance orientated four-wheel drive R (Racing), plug-in hybrid GTE and fully electric e-Golf. Transmission options are a five or six-speed manual or a seven-speed dual clutch gearbox (DSG).

6. From $2,999 to €20,000

Source: Paddy McGrath

We weren’t able to find original pricing information for Ireland, but in the United States the 1975 price for a Golf (called a Rabbit over there) was $2,999. That’s about $13,950 (€12,800) today. In Ireland the updated Golf can be had today from €20,895.

7. From hatchback to… well, hatchback

Source: Volkswagen Media

The range of body styles on offer has remained fairly consistent for a remarkable 43 years. The MkI Golf was first offered in three or five-door hatchback style, with a Cabriolet version arriving later on as well as a van variant too.

The updated MkVII Golf is still available as a three or five-door hatchback and van but can now be had in estate and SV guise too. SV stands for Sportsvan and it’s a taller more MPV-like Golf. The Cabrio still exists in some markets but it is based on the MkVI car.

READ: Which is cheaper in the long run a petrol or diesel car? >

READ: First baby on the way? 5 used cars to consider for under €15k >

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