Sunday, August 17, 2008

1998 Volkswagen Golf Cabriolet

Volkswagen Golf Cabriolet

Volkswagen Golf Mk IV (1997 - 2006)

Launched in 1997 the Golf IV was the latest version of Volkswagen iconic model, and it became the biggest selling car in Europe at one point. It was a deliberate attempt to take the Golf further upmarket, with a high-quality interior and higher equipment levels. Overall the level of maturity of the design and its target audience were also evident — the humorous plays on the game of golf which resulted in special edition models of the three earlier generations being called "Golf Ryder", "Golf Driver", not to mention the GTI's "golf ball" gearlever knob were dropped, and replaced with a more subtly styled golf ball knob.

Design and engineering

As with the B4 Passat the year before, the Golf Mk IV was a very significant car in its class. As with its big brother, not only was it the first step of VW moving its products upmarket to plug a gap between the mainstream machines and the premium cars, with SEAT and Skoda taking over as the "mainstream" brands; it also brought in a new level of interior quality and sophistication never seen before from a mainstream brand in the class. In fact, the quality of the Golf was on a par with its sister Audi A3 from the year before. Although costing slightly more than its rivals, the price difference showed when it came to luxury and upmarket feel. Rivals launched beforehand now appeared cheap, while, famously, Ford engineers and designers were so far advanced with the yet-to-be-launched Mk I Focus, they were unable to react to the Golf, and could only make minor changes to the Focus' interior, which Ford initially felt would be ahead of rivals.

However, the advent of the Mk IV Golf meant that many mainstream rivals in the class had to raise their game with interior quality to the point where there are now virtually no differences in quality levels between some mainstream and premium cars in the class. Only the budget brands in the class have not raised their game, but this is reflected in their prices. More telling, though, is that the quality of the Mk IV was not repeated 100% in its replacement.

The latest model remained faithful to the Golf concept but included some of the new 'arched' styling themes first seen on the Mk IV Passat. The overall effect was considered to be far more pleasing than the previous model.

However, the upgrade of the vehicle's interior materials and exterior details appeared to have been done at the expense of the vehicle's chassis, which was average. Although the ride and handling was inferior to that of the Mk IV Vauxhall Astra/Mk II Opel Astra the average dynamics were reasonably well concealed in daily driving, though, and the car's reputation was unscathed until the Ford Focus was launched a year later. The chassis ability of the Ford was to have a profound effect on the Mk IV Golf's replacement.

As with the Golf II, a convertible version of the Golf IV was never made. Instead, the Golf III Cabrio was facelifted to give it the frontal styling of the Golf IV hatchbacks.


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