The Mark 2 was the second generation of the Golf, and the first to be sold under the Golf name in the United States. It was sold from 1983 until 1993. The Golf was sold as a 3 door hatchback or a 5 door hatchback and with either front wheel drive or four wheel drive. Engines ranged from the weak 1.3 liter I4 making 55 horsepower all the way up to a limited edition 1.8 liter 16 valve G60 making a rather robust 210 horsepower. Although the Golf GTI was a hit with car critics, it failed to sell as well as the first generation Rabbit GTI.
The Mark 3 Volkswagen Golf was sold from 1991 until 1999. It was not sold in the United States until 1993. The three door hatchback was back, and almost all of them sold in the U.S. were in GTI form. A 5 door hatchback, 5 door station wagon, and 2 door convertible were also available body types in some markets. The top trim of this generation was the VR6, which offered far better performance than its Golf siblings, including the GTI.
The Mark 4 Golf was sold from 1997 until 2005. This was a higher quality car than the previous generation, as Volkswagen tried to add more luxury features and "upscale" the Golf into a higher class. This strategy worked, especially in Europe, where the Golf became the top-selling car at one point. The convertible version of the Golf was dropped for the Mark 4. The 1.9 liter TDI turbodiesel engine was offered on American models, and it's a great choice for the thrifty driver due to the amazing 48 miles per gallon fuel economy. It also runs on biodiesel for the environmentally aware. Don't be fooled by the fuel economy numbers and think that it's a sluggish car either, because it has a reputation for having a surprising amoung of low-end torque, which is really all you need to impress your friends at a stop light. Unless you have a racetrack in your backyard, there's really no need for a car that can go 150 miles per hour top speed.
The 4th generation would be the last to use the Golf name, for now. The car still exists in the 5th generation, but it goes by GTI in the United States, and the base model is the Rabbit.
If you are looking to buy a used Volkswagen Golf or Golf GTI, I suggest you try looking on eBay. You can find some great deals on some cars that can have good performance and great fuel economy numbers.
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