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A bit about Volkswagen...

A brand new, shiny Volkswagen Golf arrived for one of the members of the team at Aequitas House this week. So gushing has the member of staff been about their new pride and joy they have been inundating us with facts about the car and the brand. Well we have been doing a bit of homework too. Here is the GapInsurance123 brief guide to the history of Volkswagen.

A few facts about Volkswagen........

The Volkswagen Group consists of twelve brands; Volkswagen, Bentley, Bugatti, Lamborghini, Porsche, Scania, VW Commercial, Audi, Seat, Skoda, Ducati, and Man.

The Volkswagen brand itself is firmly established in its German roots. They have produced many iconic models down the years, including the Camper, the Golf and the Beetle.

The VW Beetle was the first 'icon' in the history of Volkswagen. The original aim was to provide an economy vehicle for the people in the 1930's. However, the Beetle went on to enjoy runaway success all over the world. Given the green light by German leader Adolf Hitler as 'the people's car,' the Volkswagen Beetle defied expectations leading to over 20 million unit sales over many decades. With the longest production run of any model it is said that while its basic design never changed, there were over 70,000 small improvements initiated throughout its production life.VW Beetle

Today the Volkswagen Group UK sells 500,000 cars per annum having a share of the market of 20%. The best selling model currently is the VW Golf, which is only surpassed by the Ford Fiesta in model sales in 2017 so far in the UK.

The latest version of the Golf R is not merely the most powerful Golf there's ever been, but also the quickest. Because of its remarkable all-round performance and DSG dual clutch transmission, it launches from  to 62mph in a mere 4.6 seconds

Popularised by way of the VW group, the compact DSG (Direct Shift Gearbox, or Direktschaltgetriebe) was the original twin-clutch transmission found on mainstream models from 2003.

The birth of a legend - the Volkswagen Golf GTI

Ask any sports car aficionado under 35 what their very first fast motor vehicle was and you have a high probability they'll reply with an iconic a hot hatch of some variety. However, their response could be completely different if they had needed to purchase their very first significant set of wheels during the early ’70s since the hot hatch had not yet been developed.

The hatchback alone would have been a scarcity in those days. There was the Renault 4 and 16, as well as the Austin Maxi. However, it was the appearance of Volkswagen’s Golf in 1974 that began the movement to a new style of motor. Created to replace the Beetle, that had been about for more than three decades, the Golf could not happen to be much more different to its forerunner. It turned out front-engined (1093cc and 1471cc in-line four-cylinder units were the alternatives, with 50 and 75bhp correspondingly). Front-wheel drive was standard and featured ‘folded paper’ looks which were the effort of Giorgetto Giugiaro, who was assigned with designing a number of new models for Volkswagen that is going to include the first-generation Scirocco and Passat.

A 'Sport Golf' is born.......

Strangely the technical engineers of the Golf didn't have any wishes for it to turn into a 'hot hatch' performance unit. The first plan, following worries increased through the oil crisis in the seventies, was to make a small and fuel efficient car for the public. Thankfully, Volkswagen engineer Alfons Löwenberg spotted the possibility and compiled a modest band of like-minded fellow workers at Wolfsburg to start work - within their free time - on what they'd only call the Sport Golf.

Their initial prototype was basically primarily based on the Scirocco, not actually a Golf (both vehicles shared the identical chassis), however with a 100bhp engine from the Audi 80 GT’s 1588cc, a scarcely silenced exhaust, and race-car-firm suspension. It demonstrated what the foundation was perfect for, however, the crew made the decision that it was also too excessive to show to operations for a prospective manufacturing unit. When the prototype was ultimately revealed to VW’s leading management at the corporation's Ehra-Lessien test facility, it was turned out in a much more civilised format. It was nevertheless like nothing else on the streets, however, plus the managers adored it.

‘The fastest Volkswagen ever’ made its very first appearance at the Frankfurt motor show in 1975. One of the specifics that designated it from the standard Golfs was a high spoiler (the sole aerodynamic addition, needed to improve front-end downforce at top speed), black colour side lines, black colour plastic wheel arch additions along with a red-coloured pinstripe across the grill. On the inside, there were sports seating with tartan covers, black headlining plus a gear knob that looked like a golf ball - although the Golf was titled not after the sports activity but, just like some other VWs, a wind, in this instance the Golfstrom or Gulf Stream.

The vehicle also donned new badges displaying the initials GTI, ‘GT’ meaning Gran Turismo, ‘I’ for injection (or, carrying on with the Italian theme, iniezione), alluding to the usage of Bosch K-Jetronic petrol injection instead of the carburettor initially intended for the Audi powerplant. Together with additional mods that incorporated bigger inlet valves along with an increased compression ratio, this allowed the 1.6-litre motor to generate 108bhp at 6100rpm and 103lb ft at 5000rpm. Having a kerb weight of just 810kg, the GTI could easily get to 60mph in just 9 seconds. Top speed was 110mph.

VW GolfOffered only for a three-door, the Golf GTI was launched in Germany in June 1976. A small number of special-order left-hand-drive vehicles began arriving in the UK in 1977. However, it was not until early July 1979 that the first right-hand-drive GTIs appeared. Incorporating overall performance, comfort and value, these were an immediate hit. From the end of the year in excess of 1500 ended up being sold, and because the sizzling Golf’s level of popularity grew even larger, a host of copy cats quickly followed from competitors including Ford, Peugeot, Renault, and Vauxhall. However, the Volkswagen would continue to be the benchmark by which all hot hatches would be scored for many years. As the motor vehicle that created the category, that would only seem right.

Of course todays sporty Golf range sees the likes of an electric GTE, a performance diesel in the GTD and of course the famous GTi and the eye watering performance of the R model.

You have to wonder if the designers of the humble Beetle ever thought the brand would be just this successful?