In Sepember 1986, two years after the initial launch, the 16-valve Golf was introduced. The only clue that this had eight valves more than the standard GTI was a bright red badge below the logo (and if you took a tape measure to it, you'd find it 10 mm closer to the ground).
Under the arches sat stiffer springs: 10 per cent more (front), 20 per cent more (rear), with modified shocks and anti-roll bars. Even the ventilated front discs were larger at 256 mm, and were helped out by beefier brake pistons all round. The 6 in rims wore 185/60VR-14 tyres, and the standard spec included central locking, electric windows and a sunroof.
The really important component though, lay beneath the bonnet. A cast-alloy, thermally-hardened 16-valve cylinder head, operated by two counter-rotating, chain-driven camshafts. Both shifted competition-spec inlet and exhaust valves and were mated to hydraulic tappets. The set-up needed an oil pump from a diesel engine to stay lubricated.
Power was increased by more than 24 percent over the 8-valve model, thanks to a 10:1 compression ratio and Bosch K-Jetronic fuel injection system. A bhp of 139 at 6300 rpm and peak torque of 124 Ibf.ft at 4600 rpm, translated into a 129 mph top speed and 60 mph in just over seven seconds. Developments were pretty much as the 8-valve, although in February 1987, 16-valves were offered with a highly technological digital dash - the "digifiz" - though few were actually ordered. Everyone wanted the special equipment versions in summer 1988, though.
In August 1989, big bumpers arrived, with front fog-lamps and larger side rubbing strips. Although smoked rear lamp clusters and BBS alloys were fitted, out went electric windows. Power steering was now part of the spec. January 1990 welcomed the five-door 16-valve, and in November, electric windows reappeared on the spec sheet. October 1991, and a Panasonic RDS pull-out radio/cassette became standard. Like the 8-valve, the model was discontinued in February 1992.