Maybe the most aspirational company car currently made by the manufacturer that invented the aspirational hatchback: this is the Mk 7 Volkswagen Golf GTD.
It has become a status symbol for the upwardly mobile middle-management set, just as the original GTI came to represent the cash-rich ‘yuppie’ over 30 years ago, and continues to thrive in spite of the charge of cars such as the Audi A3 and BMW 1 Series. In a normal year, VW sells twice as many GTDs as GTIs.
But, evidently, Wolfsburg would like you to take this car a bit more seriously as a performance machine. For this latest version, performance levels have therefore been increased, along with efficiency, in an attempt to make the car ‘the business’ as much as it is about day-to-day business.
How does the Mark 7 Golf GTD better the Mark 6 generation?
Power is up from 168bhp to 181bhp, and torque rises to 280lb ft. The 0-62mph dash is cut to 7.5sec while the DSG version cuts that time by 0.1sec. On the emissions front the standard GTD rolling on 18in wheels produce between 122 and 129g/km, while the GTD Bluemotion models reduce the CO2 output to between 116 and 129g/km, which is largely down to the Golf riding on 17in alloy wheels.
On the equipment front, the GTD has gained numerous standard additions as part of the 2017 Golf range facelift. The outside has been given a light makeover, with new bumpers and LED rear lights clusters added to the package. As for the rest of the package, the GTD comes with the same equipment that is standard on the GT trimmed Golfs, which includes tinted rear windows, LED foglights, ambient interior lighting and Volkswagen Discover infotainment system complete with an 8.0in touchscreen display, sat nav, Bluetooth and USB connectivity, smartphone integration and access to Volkswagen's online services.
Added to the sportiest diesel in the Golf range is an aggressive looking bodykit, LED headlights, heated front seats, dual-zone climate control and 12.3in Volkswagen's Active Info Display, which is similar to Audi's Virtual Cockpit found orginally on the TT.
On the inside, there’s the usual obvious material quality to admire, as well as an appealing smattering of classic GTI trim additions: tartan cloth seats, a special steering wheel and instrument cluster, and the obligatory golf ball-themed gearlever.
Does the Volkswagen Golf GTD manage to be a frugal GTI?
Underneath, you get lowered and stiffened sports suspension and an enhanced version of VW’s ‘XDS’ limited-slip diff-apeing traction control system, working here on all four wheels instead of just the front two, to reduce power-on understeer. You also get beefier brakes and the quickened, variable-ratio steering setup from the Golf GTI.
The four-cylinder engine is refined for a high-output diesel. More importantly, it’s responsive for an oil-burner and delivers a pretty potent turn of speed. The torquey dig you get as you flatten the accelerator comes promptly, and it’s hefty. The motor also seems happy enough to rev beyond 3500rpm, without rewriting the rulebook on the best way to get outright performance from a diesel: you're better off staying in the mid-range, in other words.
VW’s ‘progressive’ steering rack brings extra directness to the car’s handling mix at normal speeds, and as hard as we could push it on the road, and it doesn’t seem to add unwanted understeer off-centre. Chassis balance is good, albeit not great. Our test car – fitted with VW’s optional ACC adaptive dampers – rode fairly firmly at low speed, even in Comfort mode.
At cross-country pace, the chassis has a good breadth of ability, with the softer settings allowing better ride comfort and some body movement, and Sport tightening things up to a level of body control unknown even by the previous-generation Golf GTI.
But you still wouldn’t describe the car’s handling as exciting. The GTD continues to go about its business in an effective but slightly aloof way. It’s quick enough, but doesn’t grip or involve quite like a full-fat petrol hot hatch. It balances the wish for occasional thrills against the one for an easy, undemanding everyday drive. But again, that’s probably exactly as it should be.
As an alternative to a Ford Focus ST, it’s lacking edge. But next to a BMW 120d – a poverty-spec 320d Efficient Dynamics, even - it’s easy to see the equipment-rich, understated sporting appeal.
|Volkswagen Golf Mk3 (1H/1E)|
|Production||4.8 million units|
Uitenhage, South Africa.
|Body and chassis|
|Class||Small family car (C)|
|Body style||3-door hatchback|
|Layout||Front engine, front-wheel drive / Syncrofour-wheel drive|
|Platform||Volkswagen Group A3 platform|
|Engine||1.4 I4 40/44 kW (ABD/AEX/APQ)|
1.6 I4 55 kW (ABU/AEA/AEE)
1.6 I4 74 kW (AEK/AFT/AKS)
1.8 I4 55 kW (AAM/ANN)
1.8 I4 66 kW (ABS/ADZ/ACC/ANP)
2.0 I4 85 kW (2E/ADY/AGG/AKR/ABA/AWG/AWF)
2.0 I4 16v 110 kW (ABF)
2.8 VR6 128 kW (AAA)
2.9 VR6 140 kW (ABV)
1.9 I4 D 47 kW (1Y)
1.9 I4 SDI 47 kW (AEY)
1.9 I4 TD 55 kW (AAZ)
1.9 I4 TDI 66 kW (1Z/ALE/AHU)
1.9 I4 TDI 81 kW (AFN/AVG)
|Wheelbase||1991-95: 2,471 mm (97.3 in)|
1996-99: 2,474 mm (97.4 in)
|Length||4,074 mm (160.4 in)|
|Width||1,694 mm (66.7 in)|
|Height||1991-95 & Cabrio: 1,422 mm (56.0 in)|
1996-99: 1,428 mm (56.2 in)
|Predecessor||Volkswagen Golf Mk2|
Volkswagen Golf Cabriolet Mk1 (Cabrio)
|Successor||Volkswagen Golf Mk4|
Volkswagen New Beetle convertible (Cabrio)
The Volkswagen Golf Mk3 is a small family car, the third generation of the Volkswagen Golf and the successor to the Volkswagen Golf Mk2. It was launched in mainland Europe in August 1991, in the United Kingdom in February 1992, and in North America in the spring of 1994. The delay in North America was due to Volkswagen's decision to supply U.S. and Canadian dealerships with Mk3 Golfs (and A3 Jettas) from the VW plant in Puebla, Mexico. Quality control problems led Volkswagen of America to reject Golfs and Jettas from Mexico; shortly thereafter labor unrest at the plant delayed production there even further. The third-generation Golf and Jetta first appeared in North America as 1993 models in the San Diego, California area and in Canada, then in the autumn in the rest of North America as 1994 models. The Mk3 Cabrio replaced the Volkswagen Cabriolet, which continued the original Golf until 1993, although the original Golf, sold as Rabbit in the United States and Canada ceased sales in 1984. The Mk3 Cabrio continued until the 2002 model year, when Volkswagen replaced it with a convertible version of the Volkswagen New Beetle. The Mk3 was sold in Japan alongside the Polo, where both vehicles were in compliance with Japanese Government dimension regulations that encouraged sales. A 1993 UK advert featured the Bluebells song Young At Heart which resulted in a 4-week spell at Number 1 thanks to the popularity of it.
For the first time, an estate was produced, being launched in early 1994 and bringing it into line with key competitors such as the Ford Escort and Vauxhall/Opel Astra which had long been available as estates. The GT variants included a 2.8LVR6 engine, and a convertible launched as the Cabrio (Typ 1E).
The Volkswagen Golf Mk3 Cabrio (or Typ 1E) was introduced in 1994 for the 1995 model year, replacing the previous MK1 Rabbit based Cabriolet. It was facelifted in 1998 (mid 1999 for non-euro markets) with the front, rear, and steering wheel styling from the Golf Mk4 while still maintaining the body from the Mk3 Cabrio. These Cabrios are often referred to as the Mk3.5 Cabrios. The Volkswagen Golf Cabrio was discontinued in 2002.
Volkswagen Golf Mk3 Cabrio
Volkswagen Golf Mk3.5 (Mk4) Cabrio
A 16-valve version of the third-generation Golf GTI was introduced in 1993. The engine was enlarged to 2.0 L, with power now reaching 150 PS (110 kW/148 hp). While less powered than the VR6, it was still relatively popular with driving enthusiasts in Europe, because it offered similar power without the thirst or tax burden of a 6 cylinder. As with previous versions the Golf Driver took its place as the official GTI-look-alike but with a single-point injected 1.8 L engine.
The Golf Mk3 was also the predecessor of the "diesel craze" that swept through Europe in the late 1990s and early 2000s, when Volkswagen introduced the direct-injection system with the 90 PS (66 kW; 89 hp) Golf TDI in 1993.
From its launch, all versions of the Golf came with fuel injection, to meet EEC requirements that all new cars sold in member countries from January 1993 must come with fuel injection or a catalytic converter. An all-new 1.4 petrol engine was the entry-level model in the MK2 Golf range.
Also offered was a naturally aspirated version of the 1.9 L diesel engine, the SDI, offering 47 kW (64 PS; 63 hp).
Airbags were first offered on the Golf in 1992, and from 1996 anti-lock brakes were standard across the range.
The Golf Mk3 was also available in "Ecomatic" form. It was powered with a diesel engine and a clutchless manual transmission. The vehicle would freewheel by opening of the clutch as soon as the accelerator is released, and the engine was switched off after a further 1.5 seconds of inactivity, whether by stopping or coasting. Restarting the engine simply required depressing the accelerator pedal. VW had previously pioneered similar technology in the VW Polo "Formel E" in the 1980s.
There was also a limited production run of around 250 "CityStromer" vehicles, mainly sold to the German market, which were fully electric vehicles, incorporating 6 batteries in the engine bay, and a further 10 underneath the luggage area. It had a range of approximately 50 km. The vehicle could be filled with a small amount of diesel to provide heat for the cabin.
As had happened with the Mk1 and Mk2, the Mk3 remained available in US for a year after it was discontinued in Europe (1998). The Mk3 continued to be produced for the 1999 model year where it was sold in North and South America. These 1999 Mk3 cars were the last produced in the world and sold alongside the Mk4 in showrooms.
Mk3 special editions
20th Anniversary GTI
Volkswagen produced a limited quantity of 1000 special-edition 3 and 5-door GTI Anniversary models, celebrating 20 years of the GTI model. This had the usual GTI specification but came equipped with special chequered Recaro front sport seats and matching rear seats bearing the GTI logo, red seat belts front and rear, half-chromed and leather golf ball gear knob, red stitched leather steering wheel and handbrake gaiter. The release knob on the hand brake was also red and silver instrument dials. Floor mats also had red piping along their edges. The red theme continued externally with a red striping on the bumpers and red brake calipers. The wheels were 16" x 7" split rim BBS RS 722 alloys, visually similar to the 15" that were found on VR6 model. Brush stainless steel rear twin tailpipes on the exhaust and smoked front fog and indicator lamps to match the rear lamps. 3 optional extras were made available; electric sunroof, air conditioning and metallic black paintwork. Insurance was based on the standard GTI which made this version a very desirable model. The edition was sold in only 6 colour schemes and the 1000 number figures that were produced was as follows; 600 8 valve models, 150 16 valve models and 250 TDI models. The diesel model was only produced for the European market and was not sold in the UK. Unfortunately many of the models fell into the UK company car and lease market prior to the second-hand market and its believed only a few hundred still survive. However, another factor in the rarity of Mark 3 Golfs, unlike the excellent build quality of the Mark 2, at least in the UK, is the very low quality steel sourced by VW on some occasions, and used across the range, from entry model to VR6. According to independent mechanics and parts specialists, and MOT testers, the floorpan, both door sills, and rear hatch can suffer severe rot and disintegration, and anybody planning to buy one is advised to check for rot, and holes and patches to the floorpan.
The Golf Harlequin model began with a group of four cars, each carrying a Design Series emblem, created by Volkswagen to display on the 1995 international auto show circuit.
Basing the design on an earlier Volkswagen Polo Harlequin special edition, the Golf Harlequins were created in four variations, by taking four solid color models and interchanging the easily detachable doors, hood, hatch, grill, fenders and bumper fascias — after final production at the Puebla, Mexico assembly plant where all the Harlequins were manufactured.
The interchangement of colors — Tornado Red, Ginster Yellow, Chagall Blue, and Pistachio Green — was not random, but followed four defined assignments, with each pattern avoiding adjacent major panels sharing the same paint color.
Chagall Blue, and Pistachio Green were otherwise unavailable as a Golf paint color choice in North America.
The resulting Harlequins were designated by their 'base' color, the paint color of the welded panels comprising the core body — including the substructure, roof and C-pillar.
Following a positive response to the original four Harlequins, Volkswagen marketed an additional 60 — followed by an another 200.
In a series of follow up letters to various entities at Volkswagen, the total number of Harlequins is reported variously from 275-264, all offered solely for model year 1996, in the United States, Canada, and Mexico — with most marketed in the United States.
Each Harlequin Golf featured a gray/black interior highlighting the four body colors. The special edition was available for an additional $150 over their stock counterparts.
Trek / K2 Editions
In 1997, a marketing effort with Trek on the Jetta Mk3 was expanded to include the Golf Mk3.
The Trek edition came with a roof bike carrier, a 21-speed purple Trek-Volkswagen branded mountain bike, and a Trek 'Limited Edition' sticker. The K2 edition came with a ski/snowboard roof carrier, a K2 'Limited Edition' sticker, and either a pair of K2 El Camino skis, or a K2 Juju snowboard. Both editions also included special seats, and fog lights.
A Wolfsburg Edition was produced alongside other Mk3 "Wolfsburg Edition" Jettas in the United States. Like the Wolfsburg Edition Jetta, Mk3 Golfs with the Wolfsburg package came standard with an improved white/tan dual-tone interior, smoked tail-lamps, premium alloy wheels, remote entry, power windows/mirrors, and an tilt/slide sunroof. The Wolfsburg Edition was only available with the VW 8-valve SOHC 2.0L engine.
European tour editions
During the 1990s, Volkswagen sponsored three high-profile rock bands' European tours, and issued a special-edition Golf, with distinctive exterior markings, for each: the Golf Pink Floyd Edition (1994), the Golf Rolling Stones Edition (1995), and the Golf Bon Jovi Edition (1996).
European Car of the Year
The Golf MK3 was voted European Car of the Year for 1992 - the first Volkswagen to win this award.
|Name||Volume||Engine||Fuel||Power (max.)||Torque (max.)||Model||0-100km/h||Top speed||Years|
|1.4||1391 cc||4cyl||Petrol||60 PS (44 kW; 59 hp) @5200 rpm||107 N⋅m (79 lb⋅ft) @2800−3200 rpm||ABD||16.3||157 km/h (98 mph)||1992−1995|
|1.4||1390 cc||4cyl||Petrol||60 PS (44 kW; 59 hp) @4700 rpm||116 N⋅m (86 lb⋅ft) @2800−3200 rpm||AEX/APQ||15.9||158 km/h (98 mph)||1995−1997|
|1.6||1598 cc||4cyl||Petrol||75 PS (55 kW; 74 hp) @5200 rpm||125 N⋅m (92 lb⋅ft) @3400 rpm||ABU||168 km/h (104 mph)||1992−1994|
|1.6||1598 cc||4cyl||Petrol||75 PS (55 kW; 74 hp) @5200 rpm||126 N⋅m (93 lb⋅ft) @2600 rpm||AEA||168 km/h (104 mph)||1994−1995|
|1.6||1598 cc||4cyl||Petrol||75 PS (55 kW; 74 hp) @4800 rpm||135 N⋅m (100 lb⋅ft) @2800−3600 rpm||AEE||13.4||168 km/h (104 mph)||1995−1997|
|1.6||1595 cc||4cyl||Petrol||100 PS (74 kW; 99 hp) @5800 rpm||135 N⋅m (100 lb⋅ft) @4400 rpm||AEK||188 km/h (117 mph)||1994−1995|
|1.6||1595 cc||4cyl||Petrol||100 PS (74 kW; 99 hp) @5800 rpm||140 N⋅m (100 lb⋅ft) @3500 rpm||AFT/AKS||11.2||188 km/h (117 mph)||1995−1997|
|1.8||1781 cc||4cyl||Petrol||75 PS (55 kW; 74 hp) @5000 rpm||140 N⋅m (100 lb⋅ft) @2500 rpm||AAM/ANN||14.2||168 km/h (104 mph)||1992−1997|
|1.8||1781 cc||4cyl||Petrol||90 PS (66 kW; 89 hp) @5500 rpm||145 N⋅m (107 lb⋅ft) @2500 rpm||ABS/ADZ/ANP/ADD||12.1||178 km/h (111 mph)||1992−1997|
|2.0||1984 cc||4cyl||Petrol||118 PS (87 kW; 116 hp) @5400 rpm||166 N⋅m (122 lb⋅ft) @3200 rpm||2E/ABA/ADY/AGG||9.7||210 km/h (130 mph)||1992−1997|
|2.0 16V||1984 cc||4cyl||Petrol||152 PS (112 kW; 150 hp) @6000 rpm||180 N⋅m (130 lb⋅ft) @4600 rpm||ABF||8.1||225 km/h (140 mph)||1993−1997|
|2.8 VR6||2792 cc||VR6||Petrol||176 PS (129 kW; 174 hp) @5800 rpm||235 N⋅m (173 lb⋅ft) @4200 rpm||AAA||7.5||240 km/h (150 mph)||1992−1998|
|2.9 VR6||2861 cc||VR6||Petrol||194 PS (143 kW; 191 hp) @5800 rpm||245 N⋅m (181 lb⋅ft) @4200 rpm||ABV||7.0||250 km/h (155 mph)||1994−1997|
|1.9 D||1896 cc||4cyl||Diesel||64 PS (47 kW; 63 hp) @4400 rpm||124 N⋅m (91 lb⋅ft) @2000−3000 rpm||1Y||17.6||156 km/h (97 mph)||1992−1997|
|1.9 SDI||1896 cc||4cyl||Diesel||64 PS (47 kW; 63 hp) @4200 rpm||125 N⋅m (92 lb⋅ft) @2200−2800 rpm||AEY||17.6||156 km/h (97 mph)||1995−1997|
|1.9 TD||1896 cc||4cyl||Diesel||75 PS (55 kW; 74 hp) @4200 rpm||150 N⋅m (110 lb⋅ft) @2400−3400 rpm||AAZ||15.1||165 km/h (103 mph)||1992−1997|
|1.9 TDI||1896 cc||4cyl||Diesel||90 PS (66 kW; 89 hp) @4000 rpm||202 N⋅m (149 lb⋅ft) @1900 rpm||1Z||12.8||178 km/h (111 mph)||1993−1996|
|1.9 TDI||1896 cc||4cyl||Diesel||90 PS (66 kW; 89 hp) @4000 rpm||210 N⋅m (150 lb⋅ft) @1900 rpm||AHU||12.5||178 km/h (111 mph)||1996−1997|
|1.9 TDI||1896 cc||4cyl||Diesel||110 PS (81 kW; 108 hp) @4150 rpm||235 N⋅m (173 lb⋅ft) @1900 rpm||AFN||11.0||193 km/h (120 mph)||1996−1997|