VW Golf Countdown: 1991-1996 Mk3 Was Full Of Safety Firsts But Not The Most Memorable Drive

This is part three of our Golf recap, where we look back at the third generation of the iconic compact hatchback.

The VW Golf Mk3 was first launched in 1991, showcasing massive improvements in the fields of safety and becoming the first Golf to offer a six-cylinder engine option. The design is best described as sober, with VW switching from straight lines to a more rounded shape which made the Golf Mk3 look much more modern than its predecessors.

It was never meant to win any beauty contests, targeting instead a middle ground.

Also Read: VW Golf Countdown: 1983-1991 Mk2 Became The Evolution Of An Icon

The highlights of the third generation Golf were to be found under the skin; VW decided to offer safety features that were usually available only on much more expensive cars, including front and side airbags combined with a cleverly designed body that had significantly improved crash properties.

VW Golf Mk3 5-Door

The VW Golf Mk3 was first launched in Europe in August 1991, with the North American market getting it almost 3 years later, in the spring of 1994. Available bodystyles included three- and five-door hatchbacks, a two-door convertible and -for the first time in a Golf- a wagon, which never made it into North America. The four-door sedan bodystyles were marketed as the Jetta or Vento, depending on the region.

Engines available started from the base 1.4-liter petrol four-cylinder and reached all the way up to a 2.9-liter VR6 engine in the range-topping VR6 Synchro. The VW Golf Mk3 also got the first direct injection diesel engine with the 1.9 TDI. Diesel models featured for the first time an oxidising catalytic converter as well.

The VW Golf Citystromer was produced between 1993 and 1996

VW also produced 120 examples of the Golf Mk3 Citystromer, a fully electric version of the compact hatchback. The electric Golf Mk3 could travel for up to 90 km (56 miles) at a constant speed of 50 km/h (31 mph), which was remarkable for the era. Charging the battery up to 80 percent took just 90 minutes too, not to mention the standard braking energy recuperation.


Perhaps the most criticized aspect of the VW Golf Mk3 was the GTI model, which was powered by a 2.0-liter four-cylinder petrol with around 150 HP; reviews at the time said that the supposedly ‘hot’ version of the Golf lacked the excitement and the charisma of its predecessors. VR6 models offered a slightly more special experience but still, don’t expect a spine-tingling driving experience here.

Overall, the VW Golf Mk3 isn’t the most loved member of the Golf family but it did pave the way for the later generations in terms of safety and unoffensive neutral styling.

VW Golf Mk3 Interior


VW Golf Mk3  timeline

  • 1991 Debut of the third Golf generation
  • 1991  VR6 engine as the first six-cylinder in the compact class
  • 1992  Driver and front passenger airbags
  • 1993  Debut of the first Golf Variant
  • 1993  Debut of the second Golf Cabriolet
  • 1993  Debut of the second Golf syncro generation
  • 1993  The first turbo diesel direct injection engine (TDI) in a compact vehicle
  • 1995  The first suction diesel direct injection engine in a compact vehicle (SDI)
  • 1996  ABS becomes standard for all Golf vehicles
  • 1996  Side airbags in the Golf “Family” special model fitted as standard, as option in all other Golf models
  • 1996  Phase-out of the third generation after 4.83 million vehicles produced.

more photos...
  • clueless economist

    Is this walk down memory lane just to remind us how boring the Golf has always been?

  • Bash

    This headline does hurt my feelings, my late Golf vr6 was amazing on every aspect. Specially the driving Perspective and characteristics. This article doesn’t do it any favor or any justice.

  • Nowan

    seeing the city stromer it had so much potential, if only VW took it seriously…..

A 2020 Corvette C8 Just Crashed In Detroit’s First Snowfall

It’s hard to tell if the 2020 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray suffered any significant damage.

New Hyundai Santa Cruz Pickup Truck To Be Produced In Alabama And Go On Sale In 2021

Hyundai will finally start production of the Santa Cruz truck in 2021 .

Ferrari Roma Is A 2+ Coupe With Understated Styling And A 612 HP Turbo V8 (New Photos)

Ferrari’s latest model can rocket from 0-62 mph (that’s 100km/h) in 3.4 seconds.

2020 Toyota Supra Gets Into Apparent Hit And Run With Civic While Trying To Flee Car Meet

As police closed in, the 2020 Supra slammed into a Civic and then took off.

New Delhi Authorities Enforce Driving Restrictions To Reduce Smog

The World Health Organization reported in 2018 that India has the world’s 10 most polluted cities.

VW Begins Expanding Chattanooga Plant, Will Build ID.4 In 2022

The first American-made ID.4s are slated to go into production in 2022.

Maserati’s All-New Sports Car Coming In May 2020

The upcoming model will be offered with an electric powertrain that could have three different motors.

2020 Nissan Sentra To Debut On November 19th

The redesigned Sentra will feature a bold new design that echoes the Altima and Maxima.

2020 Land Rover Defender Does Its Thing In New James Bond Movie

Here’s a behind-the-scenes look at the No Time to Die stunt team performing a chasing scene with the 2020 Defender.

2020 McLaren GT Tries To Be All Things To All People – And Fails

This latest review of the 2020 McLaren GT portrays it as an imperfect Jack of all trades.