Volkswagen Golf GLS

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Volkswagen Golf GLS

1974 - 1983
4 cylinder diesel
1588 cc
53 kW @ 5000 rpm
4 spd. man
Top Speed:
165 km/h
Number Built:
1 star
Volkswagen Golf GLS
Volkswagen Golf GLS
Reviewed by Unique Cars and Parts
Our Rating: 1


Considered by many to be the definitive small hatchback, the Mark 1 Golf was a definitive success on the market place both here in Australia and overseas. Powered by an all-alloy, single overhead cam 1.6 litre four-cylinder engine that was, for the time, rather large for the size of the car, the Golf was a good performer.

Producing a healthy 53 kW at 5600 rpm and 119 Nm of torque, the Volkswagen engine was arguably the least affected by the Australian emission control regulations. Transversely mounted, it drove the front wheels through the integral differential and gearbox unit.

At the time, the Golf’s engine and gearbox layout was state of the art, minimising engine/ drive train space to help maximise passenger and luggage space. The GLS was available as either a four-speed manual or as a three-speed automatic. Front suspension was by MacPherson struts while the rear suspension was through a torsion beam axle with coil springs and telescopic shock absorbers.

Although the Golf was basically a sensible family car with lots of room for its size and moderate fuel usage, what really made it special was that it was also a driver's car, affording a great ride, ample performance and an engine that proved highly tractable. The Golf would accelerate to the 100 km/h speed limit in 12 seconds, and covered the standing start 400 metres in 18.5 seconds.

Top speed was a strong 165 km/h, and as such it had enough performance to shame many six-cylinder family cars around at the time. Coupled with this good straight-line performance, the Golf GLS was also an excellent handler and a delight to drive fast. Hard cornering would provoke the mildest of under-steer, but the front end could be brought back into line by lifting off the throttle just a tad.

The front disc brakes and rear drums were servo-assisted, and the rear brake pressure was controlled by a limiting valve that helped prevent rear wheel lock-up.

The attractive, functional, and aerodynamically-sound body was designed by the Italian Giugiaro, more noted for his work with Alfa Romeo. It was available in either three-door or five-door configuration, the latter fitted with a hatchback that lifted on hydraulic struts to give access to a large 0.35 cubic metres of storage space.

The versatility of the car was even further enhanced by its ability to drop the rear seat to extend the load carrying space to 1.08 cubic metres.

Some criticism was leveled at the Golf for its rather spartan interior and hard ride, but these were both typical attributes of German cars and reflected the German philosophy of car building. Overall the Golf was an energy-efficient and space-efficient design that won the hearts of countless thousands of happy owners throughout the world, and set the way for the Golf to continue as Volkswagens best seller to this day.

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