Thursday February 21 2013

The Mk4,a hot hatch globally

The Volkswagen Mk4 is popular among people who

The Volkswagen Mk4 is popular among people who want to stand out.PHOTOS BY ISMAIL KEZAALA 

By Jude Katende

Remember that TV advert that had an office young man behind the wheel of a red VW Golf Mk3 and his ranting over the mechanic who could not get the car fixed in time? Some car fans used social media platforms to comment on how Golfs are common with young urban profesionals and wannabes. I do not know whether or not to support this argument. But I know for a fact that in Uganda, many car fans consider the Golf to be a car for “swag” or for showy people seeing that some new artistes use it as their first car of choice. Historically, the Golf (not just this Mk3) is Volkswagen’s best-selling model and the world’s second best-selling model, with more than 29 million built by 2012.

Most production of Golfs was initially in the three-door hatchback style. The cars have filled many market segments, from basic personal cars, to high-performance hot hatches.

Anyways, the Golf is a trending car here but our problem is that we cannot afford relatively recent models so we go for older makes. Can you imagine that to date, I have seen only two Mk6 Golfs in Uganda?
Yet the Mk6 was recently replaced by Mk7! See, most car makers “retire” particular generations in a space of three to five years depending on company policies and market dynamics.

More Mks in the Golf stable
So as we wait for several years to have the Mk5’s popularity increase here, it has already been replaced twice. I have seen about three Mk5s on the road and some bonds have a few. Although, we have seen some recently registered Mk3s (as in UAQ, UAS), lets concentrate on the Mk4. Seriously why would one go for Mk3 when Mk4 is all over the place? They were initially expensive but pricing has considerably dropped to the “teens” (Shs13m, Shs18m) and a few in Shs20m and above.

The Mk3 or third-generation Golf was launched in 1991 and production ended around 1997 that tells you how old it is. Launched in 1997, the Volkswagen Golf Mk4 was the best-selling car in Europe in 2001 (though it later slipped to second place). The Mk4 was a deliberate attempt to take the Volkswagen Golf series further upmarket, with a high-quality interior and higher equipment levels.

Like the Mk3, the Mk4 has a variant in a station wagon. However, owners of the Mk4 cabriolet look alike must have come to terms that it is just a face lifted Mk3. The front has Mk4 headlights and grille but the rear has Mk3 headlights! Sounds confusing but that is what it is.
Volkswagen produced a saloon version of the Mk4 Golf. As with previous personifications of the Golf, it had its own identity, and was called the Volkswagen Bora, sold as Jetta in North America and South Africa. Unlike its predecessors, the Bora/Jetta featured unique rear doors, front wings and bonnet. The front doors were the only body panels it shared with the Golf. The interior, though, was almost identical to the Golf, featuring very minor styling changes.

The Mk4 is made in Germany but it was also made in South Africa, Slovakia, Brazil, Belgium, and China. The Golf/Jetta Mk4 engine choices included 1.4L, 1.6L, 1.8L, 2.0L 2.3L V5, 2.8L V6, 3.2L (R32) petrol engines, and a 1.9L turbodiesel.
Volkswagen made a choice of three and five-door hatchback or a five-door station wagon available. The Golf front headlights, bumpers, grille, and fenders are interchangeable between the Mk4 Golf and Bora/Jetta. When the Chinese market Bora received a July 2006 facelift, the Golf did too, becoming the “Bora HS” in the process.

Because of the MK4’s popularity and low cost, it is still in production in several countries, such as Brazil and Argentina, slightly facelifted. Bob Mawanda , the proprietor of Blue Ocean Motors, a dealer and repair workshop has mixed reactions about Golfs. First he says they are not as fast moving (in sales) as Japanese cars are.

“I can also sell one or two a year and when they have already been ordered for prior to importation. Otherwise I may get stuck with them here,” he explains.
He however maintains that “corporates” fancy them. “People working in banks, offices, people who want to stand out of the crowd and who want to be respected on the road buy them. “If you drive a Premio, I can tell how much you spend just by looking at it. I can easily tell its year of manufacture which isn’t the case for Golfs. Even us dealers, we at times cannot tell if someone is lying to us or not. If someone says they bought their Golf at Shs30m, you cannot argue even when it could have cost them only Shs18m. It is because they vary, so this person can easily win the argument because you have no basis,” Mawanda explains Muhammad Tariq Javaid, the chief executive at Chatha Investments says they don’t have Golfs in their bond at the moment but he knows that a 1999 Mk4 model should go for about Shs20m while a Bora/Jetta (in stock) starts at Shs22m. He says it is usually young flashy people that buy such cars. He adds that it (Golf) is easy to maintain. Mawanda adds that although Mk3 and Mk4 are more popular, some people prefer the cheaper and much older Mk2. “They have good bodies that do not disturb during panel beating. I have worked on some used ones. They are much easier to repair,” he argues.

Anniversary editions

The GTI 25th Anniversary Edition was a special version of the Golf GTI, for the European market to commemorate the first Golf model, launched in 1976. A year later, a similarly equipped version of the GTI, called the GTI 337 Edition, was introduced. Only 1,500 units were produced for the US market with an additional 250 for the Canadian market. Both the GTI 25th anniversary and the 337 editions were equipped with many extra features not included in the standard GTI.

European -spec R32

In 2003, Volkswagen produced the Golf R32 in Europe. It was the World’s first production car with a dual-clutch gearbox (DSG) — available for the German market. Due to unexpected popularity, Volkswagen decided to sell the car in the United States and Australia as the 2004 model year Volkswagen R32. Billed as the pinnacle of the Golf Mk4 platform, the R32 included every performance, safety, and luxury feature Volkswagen had to offer, including the all-new 3.2L 24-valve VR6 engine.

Further additions included on-demand four-wheel drive system, a new six-speed manual transmission, independent rear suspension, Climatronic automatic climate control, sport seats with R32 logos, 18” alloy wheels, electronic stability programme, larger disc brakes and model-specific bodywork additions.
The Golf Mk4 also continues to be sold in countries such as Brazil and Argentina.

Papal touch
Then still Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger in 1999, the prefect of the Catholic Church’s Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith under Pope John Paul II, purchased a Mk4 Golf in which to drive around Rome, selling it in 2005 after John Paul’s death in anticipation of retiring and returning to Germany. Instead, he became Pope Benedict XVI. Shortly afterwards John Paul’s death, his 1999 Golf sold for nearly $250,000 (about Shs659m).