Before we delve into the German compact car world, I promised you on Friday that I would reveal the answers for the metaphors and similes.  Here are the answers:

Jaguars are sleek, fast and agile: just like the jungle cat.  That sentence is a simile. 

The Shelby Cobra spits glorious thunder and lightning as thunderstorms inject fear into the hearts of dogs.  That sentence is  metaphor. 

The roaring semi pants up the grade.  That sentence is a metaphor.

The internal combustion engine is the roaring belly of the car.        That sentence is a metaphor.

If you don’t know what I am talking about, then look at my previous post, English Period.

Now, let’s transition our transmission to the history of Volkswagen’s compact hatchbacks (excluding the Beetle).


The Golf/Rabbit/GTI

In German, Volkswagen means “the people’s car”.  Volkswagen was part of the Auto Unions’ from the 1920’s and ‘30’s.  They also made Jeep-like vehicles for the Nazi regime.  During the 1930’s, they started making the Beetle, an affordable car.  Adolf Hitler commissioned Ferdinand Porsche, the father of Porsche and Volkswagen, to build a “Volkswagen-the people’s car”.  The Beetle was meant to be the German Ford Model T, but better.  The prototype Beetle’s were built in Porsche’s garage.  Sadly, only a few Beetle’s from the 1930’s and 1940’s remain today.  The ones that do remain, however, are the most sought after German cars of that era.

I picked the Golf/Rabbit/GTI trio to be a post, because they are: safe, fairly reliable, fun to drive, fuel efficient, and are a versatile platform.   It is amazing what Volkswagen has done with a simple platform.  Plus, the car is cheap!  VW’s reliability is improving with every generation.  VW’s have always been very unreliable, and they are a welcome change.  The Golf/Rabbit/GTI that I would choose would be a 2010 GTI two-door with the optional DSG transmission. 

In May of 1974, Volkswagen introduced a new car: the Golf/Rabbit.  The Golf name was for Europe and markets other than theU.S.  The Rabbit name was for theU.S.and Canadian markets.  The new cars proved to be an instant hit, with many cars sold within the first few months.  Two years later, Volkswagen decided to add a “sportified” version of the Golf/Rabbit to the existing line-up.  The more potent GTI hatchback was added to the Golf/Rabbit line-up and was a hit (it still is today).  The GTI has a four-banger (cylinder) with a turbocharger on it.  Many variations of the Golf have been produced, such as the Volkswagen Caddy, Volkswagen Pup and the Golf Cabriolet (German for convertible).  The first generation Golf/Rabbit was produced from May 1974-August 1984 (with variations).  In 1979, a Jetta sedan was put into production.  The Jetta was a four-door Golf/Rabbit/GTI without the rear hatch. 

The second generation was produced alongside its older brother for almost a year, before the factory was a dedicated Golf/Rabbit/GTI factory.  In 1985, the first all-wheel-drive Golf/Rabbit’s went on sale, as the Golf/Rabbit Country.  When ABS was federally mandated for all new cars in theU.S., the Golf/Rabbit was no exception. 

The third-generation Golf/Rabbit/GTI debuted in 1991 inEurope.  Two new engines debuted with it: VW’s now tried and true VR6 narrow-angle V6, and a Turbocharged Direct Injection (TDI) Diesel engine.  Both engines are used extensively throughout the current Volkswagen/Audi/Porsche model range.  The Jetta III was also introduced as the Volkswagen Vento in the South American market.  The Golf Mk3 (internal model design number) won the award of 1992 European Car of the Year. 

The Golf Mk4 was introduced to the VW line up in August 1997.  As of 2009, there were some Golf’s still in production in South America and parts ofAfrica, because of their cheap cost.  Production ended in December of 2006. 

Even though production started in mid-2003, the Golf Mk5 reached our shores in 2006.  Yet again, the Jetta was just a Golf without the hatchback style.  A Rabbit (it was still called the Rabbit in theUS) won a Car & Driver comparison because of its interior levels and driving enjoyment.  For the first time, VW’s DSG (Dual-Sport-Transmission) was available.  The DSG is a dual-clutch design similar to Porsche’s PDK (I won’t even bother trying to spell PDK in German!).

The Golf Mk6 started production in January 2009, and is basically a face-lifted Golf Mk5.  The 2011 Jetta rides on an all-new platform that will be used for the Golf Mk7. 

Variations of the Golf ______________________________________________________

Volkswagen been on the hunt for fuel efficient cars and engines.  They have been using diesel engines for years, and trying out electric cars.

There was a Golf CityStromer in the 1970’s that was an experimental Golf converted to electric power, using lead-acid battery packs.  Unfortunately, it never made it to production.

Awards and Titles:

1992: European Car of the Year

2006: 1st place in a Car & Driver economy car comparison

2010: Kelley Blue Book’s #3 out of 10 green cars of 2010.

3 thoughts on “Pick your poison: The Volkswagen Golf, the Volkswagen GTI or the now-defunct, but still lethal Rabbit.

  1. I still have trouble separating the car from the roots of “the people’s car”. I have never bought a Volkswagon.

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