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Retro

The Volkswagen Golf turns 50: which is the best generation?

Sensible hatch is a full half-century old. Which was your favourite?

Do you need a sensible family car? Get a Volkswagen Golf. Need a classless, well put-together car for all occasions? Just get a Volkswagen Golf. In need of something that’ll get you to work and back during the week, and then off to the Dakar on the weekend? Yeah, just get a Golf.

It’s the answer to pretty much every motoring question ever asked, and now one of the world’s most recognisable nameplates has officially turned 50. Recognisable because VW has shifted more than 37 million Golfs over eight generations. Wowzers.

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And it's still going: at the end of January the updated Mk8 was revealed, promising to be an evolutionary development with “visually refined features”, “new assist systems and powertrains”, and “next-generation infotainment systems and software” (uh oh).

Anyway, before we look forward, we must look back. The original car, designed by the masterful Giugiaro, took over from the Beetle way back in 1974, and VW had already sold a million of these gloriously boxy first-gen cars by 1976.

The Mk2 took over in 1983 – bringing with it one of the world’s greatest hot hatches of course – offering subtle upgrades to the Mk1’s fresh looks. The perhaps slightly unloved Mk3 and Mk4 arrived in 1991 and 1997 respectively, before the Mk5 arrived in 2003. Good car, that.

Six and seven followed in relatively short order in 2008 and 2012, and Mk8 only arrived a few years ago.

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Tell us then, which do you reckon is the best generation of Volkswagen Golf? And surely there must be at least one person who likes the Mk4?

Volkswagen Golf

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