Can you believe this little legend is 42 years old?

There have been many notable hot hatchbacks through the years, but the one that forever altered the course of performance and fun in the compact segment is the Volkswagen Golf. It’s enjoyed quite a ride through the years, one that’s certainly had ups and downs with a wide range of variants and special editions. It’s served as basic transportation for millions all around the world, with amped-up GTI models delivering no small amount of grin-worthy entertainment. Donut Media’s popular video series captures every high point in the Golf’s 42-year history, taking a step-by-step walk through the hatchback’s evolution.

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The trip begins of course with the MK 1 GTI, and even though we know it was a lightweight dynamo of fun, it’s easy to forget just how light it was without seeing it in print. Without complex modern electronics and gobs of add-on equipment, the first GTI tipped the scales at just 1,785 pounds (809 kg). That wasn’t too much for its 16-valve four-cylinder to deal with, and though a 0-60 time of nine seconds sounds slow to us, in the mid-1970s it was right there with V8 performance cars of the day.

The GTI wasn’t strictly about straight-line performance, however. It was also designed to be a nimble, tossable go-kart with a zippy engine that, while exciting, wasn’t overpowering. That reputation would soldier on through the 1980s and 1990s, with vehicle weight and horsepower increasing incrementally to keep the GTI roughly in the same realm of acceleration as that first model. Of course, that doesn’t include the rare G60 models, which make an appearance in the video. Very cool.

Volkswagen Golf Evolution

Then came the all-wheel drive R model, followed by the 2004 GTI which brought a significant performance bump to the line while preserving the car’s original essence of being a lightweight, tossable hatchback. From there’s it been pretty much win-win for VW, delivering base-model Golfs that still have some of the fun-to-drive DNA of the original, while offering GTI and R models with varying degrees of performance to suit just about any motoring appetite.

Whether or not you’re a Golf fan, there’s certainly no arguing its significant place in motoring history. For what its worth, we’re happy to be along for the ride.

Source: Donut Media via YouTube

 

Volkswagen Golf Evolution