A3 Golf (Mk3)
1 Mar 1994
By the time the 1992 Mk3 Golf arrived here in early ’94, VW had exorcised the quality and durability demons that plagued earlier examples in Europe – a corollary of a misguided attempt by the VW Group to cut costs to the bone.
First off the boat was the unique Golf VR6, a 128kW/235Nm 2.8-litre “narrow-angle” V6 engine five-door hatchback.
The VR6’s sharp handling, smooth performance and high equipment levels (that included dual front airbags, anti-lock brakes, air-conditioning, central locking and alloy wheels) made it a convincing compact Grand Tourer.
Like all subsequent Golf models, it was available in either five-speed manual or four-speed automatic guises.
But the more significant Mk3 Golf was the volume-selling GL.
Capitalising on the Yen-fed price struggle its Japanese rivals were experiencing at the time, the GL five-door hatchback’s combination of a gutsy 85kW 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine and good specification (dual airbags, power steering, power windows, central locking) helped cement VW’s protracted return to Australia.
The Golf range expanded during 1995 to include the return of a Golf GL-specification Cabriolet in March as well as the ungainly Vento from mid-year, which was also Golf GL-based, but with an enormous boot and square-headlight nose grafted on.
In October 1995 the Golf gained an entry level three-door CL model. Boasting dual front airbags, central locking and power steering, it used a 66kW/145Nm version of the venerable 1.8-litre four-cylinder engine.
Also on sale then was the return of a Golf diesel.
Aligned to GL specification, the TDI featured a 66kW/202Nm 1.9-litre turbocharged four-cylinder diesel unit.
Meanwhile, the Vento and CL three-door were short-lived. The latter gave way in early ’97 to the more popular five-door CL with air-conditioning added as standard.
The limited edition Golf GL and Vento GL Classic of January ’96 and 1997 included air-conditioning and alloy wheels.
VW was so shaken by the Mk3 Golf’s early quality malaises that its Mk4 Golf successor, sharing its platform with the Audi A3 and TT amongst other VW Group products, broke new ground in quality perception.