Road impressions: VW Golf 2

An old friend!

Six million sales in nine years is the record of the Volkswagen Golf, the water-cooled, front-drive family car which arrived, almost too late, in 1974 to replace the Beetle. It did succeed in restoring VW to the European leadership in the medium size car sector, and now the company has taken an ultra-cautious step in developing Golf 2, which will be on sale in Britain from March 1st next year.

Volkswagen looked at ten designs for the new Golf, and chose the one that followed most closely the original Giugiaro lines. Externally the Golf 2 is so strikingly similar to its predecessor that it could not be mistaken for anything else. Yet it is better in almost every way. . . bigger inside, bigger in carrying capacity, bigger in tank capacity, faster, more economical and more refined. On the debit side, the new Golfs are approximately 115 pounds heavier than their predecessors and, in Germany, 3.3% dearer.

The four-year development programme for Golf 2 has resulted in a familiar looking car, inside and out, which is 6.7 inches longer, 2.2 inches wider overall, and has wider track and longer wheelbase dimensions. A better drag coefficient, 0.34 compared with 0.42 previously, ensures that the Golfs are significantly faster (by around 6 mph on the top speeds) and more economical. In effective terms, the Golf is now much more a full adult size four-seater with increased space for elbows, legs and heads, and can carry four people’s luggage as well, something the original Golf was not very good at. The fuel tank, a complex shaped plastic extrusion, now holds 12 gallons, and due to the more economical range of engines gives each model a range of over 350 miles. Engine sizes include a 1.3-litre (55 bhp), a 1.6-litre (75 bhp), a carburated 1.8-litre (9(5 bhp), the injection 1.8-litre (112 bhp), and two 1.6-litre diesels, one rated at 54 bhp and the turbocharged version at 70 bhp.

A major publicity coup was scored by VAG (United Kingdom) Limited in flying the British motoring press to Munich in Concorde, the first time the supersonic aircraft has landed on German soil. An estimated 35,000 spectators thronged to the airport on BMW’s doorstep, along with press and TV, to record the event. Interesting to realise that Golf 2 represents an investment by Volkswagen of £500-million, more than was originally budgeted for the development of Concorde!

Road impressions on the smooth Bavarian highways cannot tell the whole story, but it is evident that the new Golfs are indeed quieter and more refined; certainly they are more roomy and comfortable. The normal range now has the GTi’s disc/drum brake system with asbestos-free pads and linings, while the GTi itself (which was not available for driving) will have a four-wheel disc brake system. If Volkswagen have met all their objectives, as seems likely, Golf 2 is demonstrably superior to Golf 1 in every important aspect and cannot fail to impress existing owners.

The production rate of up to 930,000 units a year world-wide is about 15% higher than before and is a measure of VW’s hopes of conquest sales, always a critical factor in the launch of a new model. A 16-valve Golf GTi is due for announcement in the near future, followed by a Jetta version next autumn, and a four-wheel drive version in two years’ time. The Cabriolet, however, will continue to be built on the existing floor plan due to its relatively low volume, though it will have the latest engines and components. MLC.