Volkswagen SA’s Uitenhage plant has reason to celebrate as the 750 000th Golf recently rolled off the production line at the only plant still manufacturing both the first and latest generations of the classic hatchback.

Volkswagen SA’s Uitenhage plant has reason to celebrate as the 750 000th Golf recently rolled off the production line at the only plant still manufacturing both the first and latest generations of the classic hatchback.

The Golf was first launched in South Africa in May 1978 to replace the iconic Volkswagen Beetle. The range was expanded in 1981 to include a half-ton bakkie, the Caddy, which now known as the Pick-Up remains a presence on local roads.

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n November 1982, 1,8-litre engine producing 82 kW was introduced was fitted to the Golf 1. Dubbed GTi, its tentative launch marked the advent of the “hot hatch” and has become a fixture in subsequent Golf line-ups.

The Golf 2 followed in 1984 (with the GTi launched in 1986) and it was some time before the Golf 3 was introduced in 1992. In 1996, it was announced that the Golf 3 GTi would be exported from South Africa to the UK and since then, both the Golf 4 (launched in 1998) and latest generation Golf 5 (launched last year) have been exported to the UK and other international markets.

The Golf 5 was launched in 2004, mere months ahead of the new GTI’s unveiling. With its 147 kW 2,0-litre turbocharged engine, the latest incarnation of the GTI is a far from its humble Golf 1 beginnings more than 20 years ago.