Launched in 1997, the Volkswagen Golf Mk4 (or VW Typ 1J) became the biggest selling car in Europe at one point. It was a deliberate attempt to take the Volkswagen Golf series 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.
The latest model remained faithful to the Golf concept but included some of the new "arched" styling themes first seen on the Mk4 Passat.
As with the Mk2 Golf, Volkswagen did not make a convertible version of the Mk4 Golf. Instead, the firm replaced the front and rear bumper bars of a Mk3 Golf and gave the car the Mk4 headlights and the grille to match. This was done to give it the car the frontal styling of the Mk4 Golf hatchbacks. The rear had its number plates moved into the bumper bar and a larger VW roundel was incorporated over the Mk4's typical hatch handle. The interior was also improved with "pixel" treatment to the dashboard, blue lighting for the instrument panel and more use of chrome, such as the door handles.
Germany, South Africa, Slovakia, Brazil, Mexico, Belgium, and China all made the Golf 4. Eastern European locations making the Golf 4 included Bosnia and Herzegovina, in Vogošća (near Sarajevo), which also made Mk1 and Mk2 models. However, although the Bosnian Mk4 was popular it was only available in the local market.
Volkswagen made a choice of three and five-door hatchback or a five-door station wagon available. The European Golf wagon was nearly identical to the North American Jetta Wagon. The only difference was the use of the Golf front headlights, bumpers, grille, and fenders as these parts are interchangable between the Mk4 Golf and Bora/Jetta.
The Golf 4 was introduced to North America in mid-1999. Available engines for the Golf at its introduction to the American market were a 2.0 L gasoline engine, and a thrifty (48mpg) 1.9 L TDI engine. The latter soon developed a reputation for good low-speed torque and fuel economy, and can operate on alternative biofuels. In 2004 the updated 1.9L TDI PD or "Pumpe-Düse" engine was installed in the Golf and Jetta's. The "Pumpe-Düse" or Pump Nozzle was a Robert Bosch extreme high pressure fuel injection system for direct cylinder injection. A 1.8 L turbocharged gas engine was introduced in 2000, along with the 12-valve 2.8 L VR6. The 2.0 L gasoline engine was the base engine in the sportier GTI only as a 1999.5 model. For 2000, Volkswagen opted for the relatively new 1.8 L turbocharged gasoline engine as a base engine for the GTI. The top-of-the-line GLX model was equipped with Volkswagen's torquey 2.8 L VR6, which put out an impressive . The VR6 engine, with its narrow 15-degree Vee design, was unique to Volkswagen. This engine is shorter and lighter (featuring a single cylinder head) than other V6 engines which benefits the handling characteristics of this front-wheel drive car. For the 2002.5 model year Volkswagen introduced a 24-valve version of its VR6 engine. This engine had the same torque characteristics of the older 12-valve version, with an extra . This engine featured the first 6-speed manual available in the Mk4 platform in North America.
The 1.8T and VR6 models continued until 2005, when the Mk4 platform came to an end.
The Brazilian Golf TDI PD was sold in Canada due to its popularity as a full 2006 models in base, GL and GLS trim levels for the full model year as there were no diesel engine versions for the North American 2007 Mk5 Golf (Rabbit).
In Europe, trim levels were country-specific, although some markets got E, S, SE, GTI and V5/V6/V6 4MOTION versions. The V5 was available in and versions
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. At the time of its launch, it wasn't confirmed wheter Volkswagen was going to sell this special edition model in the United States.
A year later, a similarly-equipped version of the GTI, called the GTI 337 Edition, was officially introduced at the New York Auto Show and made it to dealers late May 2002 to the US & Canadian markets. The price of the GTI 337 was $22,225 in the U.S. and $32,900 in Canada. Only 1,500 units were produced for the US market with an additional 250 for the Canadian market. This model came painted exclusively in metallic Reflex Silver.
Both the GTI 25th anniversary and the 337 editions were equipped with many extra features not included in the standard GTI. They included: 18x7.5" BBS RC Wheels with special ball peen finish, perforated leather shift boot and handbrake, red and black seat belts, Recaro seats, factory body kit (front valance, sideskirts, hatch spoiler, and rear valance), 02M 6-speed manual transmission, larger front and rear brakes, lowered suspension, and brushed aluminum interior trim. These models were never equipped with a sunroof as to take the car back to its roots, the Mk1 GTI, and improve handling and performance.
Following the initial commemorative anniversary edition GTI produced in Europe in 1996 celebrating the introduction of the GTI model in 1976, and the overwhelming popularity of the 25th anniversary edition GTI produced 2001 (known as the GTI 337 in North America when released in 2002), Volkswagen of America produced 4,200 so-branded "20th Anniversary Edition" GTIs and 4000 were shipped to the United States and 200 to Canada. This event, in 2003, marked the 20th anniversary of the GTI's first introduction to the U.S. and Canadian market, some 7 years after the GTI was introduced to the European market. Several special features distinguish this new GTI from the rest of the pack.
On the outside, the 20th Anniversary edition came with throwback red-lettered GTI logos on the left front and right rear. The rear was also accompanied by a vintage-look chrome rabbit. Blackened headlights added a distinctive look, while Votex front, rear, and side skirts along with a hatch spoiler and special edition 18" OZ Aristo alloy wheels wrapped in Michelin Pilot Sports complete the exterior transformation. These models were produced only in three colours: Imola Yellow, Jazz Blue and Black Magic Pearl. Distribution of production was 50% Black magic pearl, 25% Jazz Blue and 25% Imola Yellow.
Inside, a few accents were noticeable. Unlike other models, there were no options offered. The only true option was ESP, Volkswagen's stability control feature. All "20ths" had a sunroof, black headliner, golf ball shift knob, black leather steering wheel with silver stitching, black leather shifter boot with silver stitching, preforated leather covered hand brake handle, and sporty black cloth Recaro bucket seats with silver stitching accents and red GTI emblems embroidered in the middle of the back rests. Aluminum trim came standard, complete with a numbered nameplate above the center console identifying the exact production number (US production only) of the vehicle. Volkswagen's premier 8-speaker Monsoon stereo system was also standard.
Mechanically, the 20th Anniversary Edition GTI is nearly identical to the GTI 337 Edition. A 6-speed manual MQ350 transmission marked the most notable departure from the norm, and upgraded suspension stiffened up the ride and lowered the car approximately 30 mm (uprated springs and shocks, increased sway bar diameters, and revised bushings in the rear). Upgraded disc brakes front (12.3" vented rotors) and rear (10.3" vented rotors) helped bring things to a stop, while red powder-coated calipers added a bit of flair to the package.
Starting in 2002, all of the models of the GTI's 1.8T increased in horsepower from 150bhp to 180bhp.
In 2002, Volkswagen produced the Golf R32 in Europe as a 2003 model. Due to unexpected popularity, Volkswagen of America decided to sell the car in the United States as the 2004 Volkswagen R32. Billed as the pinnacle of the Golf IV platform, the R32 included every performance, safety, and luxury feature VW had to offer including the all new 3.2 L 24-valve VR6 engine producing a claimed and of torque (it is commonly thought the U.S. R32 received the higher output Audi TT engine producing because the NA spec R32 shared the same Mass flow sensor as the Audi TT 3.2 which was significantly larger than the European spec R32's MAF meter), Haldex Traction-based 4motion four-wheel drive system, a new 6-speed manual transmission, independent rear suspension, Climatronic automatic climate control, sport seats from König with R32 logos, 18" OZ Aristo wheels (Ronal produced the wheels towards the end of production), Electronic Stability Programme, larger (334 mm) disc brakes with blue finish calipers, sunroof, and model specific bodywork.
In the US, the vehicle was available in only four colours: Black Magic Pearl, Deep Blue Pearl, Reflex Silver, and Tornado Red. The distribution of US-spec R32 colours were as follows:
Deep Blue Pearl: 40%
Reflex Silver: 35%
Black Magic Pearl: 15%
Tornado Red: 10%
Although the R32 shared a similar appearance with the 25th Anniversary GTI, the R32 shared the vast majority of its major components with the 3.2 L Audi TT, most notably, the engine, four-wheel drive system, and both front and rear suspension geometries. Five thousand cars were produced and intended to be sold over a two-year period, but the entire line was sold out within 13 months.
The R32 is the second quickest car that Volkswagen has imported to the U.S., after the B6 Passat 3.6l 4motion Sedan at 5.6 seconds. The R32 is capable of 0-100 km/h in 6.6 seconds, and clearing the quarter mile in 14.1 seconds at . The R32 edges out its third fastest sibling, the top-of-the-line Phaeton 6.0 litre W12 (414 bhp), by a tenth of a second at the mark.
It also has a surprisingly high resale and used-car value; the Kelley Blue Book used car retail price (the price an individual might expect to pay for one from a dealer) for a model in excellent condition with low mileage actually exceeds the original retail price of the car in many cases, making it one of a few recent cars that have actually approached an increase in value over time. This premium can be explained mostly due to scarcity, both of the cars themselves due to low production and importation, and especially ones that still have extremely low mileage.
In Canada, the Brazilian-built Golf 4 continues to be (as of June 2008) sold alongside the Mk5 model badged as the Rabbit. The Canadian model was renamed as the City Golf, and is not sold in the United States. It has a base price of C$15,300 (2008 model). As an entry-level alternative to the Rabbit, it offers only one engine: the 2.0L SOHC with . It is not related to the South African Volkswagen CitiGolf, despite the similarity in name. The Mk4 Jetta has been similarly reintroduced in Canada for the 2007 model year as the City Jetta.
In China, FAW-VW will launch a new Golf IV, with FAW-VW's Bora facelift front, at the Beijing International Automobile Exhibition in November 2006. It is named Bora HS to compliment the Bora Mk IV range, as the Golf name will be reserved for the Golf V soon to manufactured by FAW-VW.
The Golf Mk4 also continues to be sold in countries like Brazil and Mexico. However, in Mexico the range is available with 1.6- and 2.0-litre 4-cylinder petrol, or a 1.9-litre turbodiesel. In Chile, it is also sold, with the same options as in Mexico, except for the diesel. Instead, there is a turbo 1.8 version available. All of these are 4-cylinder petrol engines.
In Brazil, the Mk4 Golf has a 1.6 (with Volkswagen Totalflex system which accepts both gasoline or alcohol), 1.8 Turbocharged engine and 2.0-litre engine, and comes in many trim level only.
Volkswagen Brazil is preparing a major restyling of the fourth generation. It will be sold in most Latin America countries, since it is produced in Brazil. The front will take styling cues from the current Volkswagen Polo and the back of the car is inspired by the current European version Golf 5.
|1.4||AHW / AXP / AKQ / APE / AUA / BCA||I4 DOHC 16V||@ 5,000 rpm||@ 3,300 rpm||1997-2006|
|1.6||AEH / AKL / APF||I4 SOHC 8V||@ 5,600 rpm||@ 3,800 rpm||1997-2000|
|1.6||AVU / BFQ||I4 SOHC 8V||@ 5,600 rpm||@ 3,800 rpm||2000-2006|
|1.6||AUS / AZD / ATN / BCB||I4 DOHC 16V||@ 5,700 rpm||@ 4,500 rpm||2000-2006|
|1.6 FSI||BAD|| I4 DOHC 16V|
with GDI injection
|@ 5,800 rpm||@ 4,400 rpm||2002-2006|
|1.8||AGN||I4 DOHC 20V||@ 6,000 rpm||@ 4,200 rpm||1997-1999|
|1.8 T||AGU / ARZ / ARX / AUM|| I4 DOHC 20V|
|@ 5,700 rpm||@ 1,750 rpm||1997-2006|
|1.8 T||AUQ / AWP|| I4 DOHC 20V|
|@ 5,500 rpm||@ 1,950 rpm||2001-2006|
|2.0||APK / AQY||I4 SOHC 8V||@ 5,200 rpm||@ 2,400 rpm||1999-2001|
|2.0||AZJ||I4 SOHC 8V||@ 5,200 rpm||@ 3,200 rpm||2001-2006|
|2.0 4Motion||AZH||I4 SOHC 8V||@ 5,400 rpm||@ 3,200 rpm||2001-2006|
|2.3 VR5||AGZ||VR5 SOHC 10V||@ 6,000 rpm||@ 3,200 rpm||1997-2000|
|2.3 V5||AQN||VR5 DOHC 20V||@ 6,200 rpm||@ 3,300 rpm||2000-2006|
|2.8 VR6||AAA / AFP||VR6 DOHC 12V||@ 5,800 rpm||@ 4,200 rpm||1999-2002|
|2.8 VR6||2004.3BTP.7B1J5863463L.7D||VR6 DOHC 24V||@ 6,000 rpm||@ 3,200 rpm||2002-2006|
|3.2 R32||BFH||VR6 DOHC 24V||@ 6,250 rpm||@ 2,800 rpm||2002-2004|
|1.9 SDI||AGP / AQM||I4 SOHC 8V SDI||@ 4,200 rpm||@ 2,200 rpm||1997-2006|
|1.9 TDI||AGR / ALH|| I4 SOHC 8V TDI|
|@ 3,750 rpm||@ 1,900 rpm||1997-2002|
|1.9 TDI||ATD / AXR|| I4 SOHC 8V TDI|
with unit injectors
|@ 4,000 rpm||@ 1,800 rpm||2000-2006|
|1.9 TDI||AHF / ASK / ASV|| I4 SOHC 8V TDI|
|@ 4,150 rpm||@ 1,900 rpm||1997-2002|
|1.9 TDI||AJM|| I4 SOHC 8V TDI|
with unit injectors
|@ 4,000 rpm||@ 1,750 rpm||1999-2001|
|1.9 TDI||AUY|| I4 SOHC 8V TDI|
with unit injectors
|@ 4,000 rpm||@ 1,900 rpm||2000-2002|
|1.9 TDI||ASZ|| I4 SOHC 8V TDI|
with unit injectors
|@ 4,000 rpm||@ 1,900 rpm||2001-2006|
|1.9 TDI||ARL|| I4 SOHC 8V TDI|
with unit injectors
|@ 4,000 rpm||@ 1,900 rpm||2000-2003|