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Turn back the clock: 6 of Volkswagen's greatest hits over the years

What's your favourite from this list?

8w ago
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Ever since the company was founded in 1959, Volkswagen has consistently produced some impressive cars, many of which may appear 'boring' and 'ordinary' to most, but there have actually been some cool ones too.

So, as a way to honour some of the coolest cars they have made, here are six of the best.

Volkswagen Phaeton W12

The Phaeton was Volkswagen's attempt at creating a Rolls Royce Phantom and Mercedes-Benz S-Class rival. It was an £80,000 full-size luxury car when it was launched back in 2002 and it came with one very notable option – a 6.0-litre W12 engine.

One thing Ferdinand Piëch required of the Phaeton is that it was a car which could be capable of being driven all day at 300 km/h (186 mph) with an exterior temperature of 50 °C (122 °F) whilst maintaining the interior temperature at 22 °C (72 °F).

Volkswagen Touareg R50

Before the performance SUV was cool, Volkswagen launched something called the Touareg R50 – which would put the Lamborghini Urus to shame today.

This was a 2.6-tonne 4x4 powered by an astonishing 5.0-litre V10 TDI engine producing 345bhp and a monumental 627lb-ft of torque. Sure, this meant it barely managed 21mpg but does that really matter when you literally have the most bonkers car on the road?

Volkswagen Golf GTI mk1

It would be brutal to make a list of six of Volkswagen's greatest hits and not include the first Golf GTI. That would be like putting a list together of the greatest rockstars of all time and carelessly leaving out Prince.

Since its arrival in the 70s, the Golf GTI has sold millions of copies of itself – making it one of the brand's most recognisable vehicles. In fact, it was so successful that even today the Golf GTI in its eighth form, is regarded as one of the best hot hatches on the market.

Volkswagen Polo Harlequin

Nothing comes across as being less stereotypically German as the VW Polo Harlequin, but we love that. In order to make it, Volkswagen sat down one day and thought it would be a fun idea to swap panels around on some of its mk3 Polos to make this.

The Polo Harlequin featured multi-coloured body panels with a combination of Flash Red, Ginster Yellow, Pistachio Green and Chagall Blue. Harlekin Polos used the 1.6 petrol engine and featured special "Joker" pattern seats and bespoke gear knob and steering wheel.

Originally limited to 1,000, around 3,800 of this series were produced.

Volkswagen Golf Country

Once Volkswagen had done the whole 'sporty Golf' they wondered what else they could do, and that's when they came up with the Golf Country – essentially the German Fiat Panda 4x4.

Less than 8,000 were ever made – making it quite the rarity. This version of the Golf featured more suspension travel, Syncro four-wheel drive, increased ground clearance of 21 centimetres (8.3 in), bullbars at front and rear, and a skid plate for protecting the engine area.

The standard version was powered by a 98hp 1.8-litre 8v engine, but another was made exclusively for staff who worked on the project powered by a 114hp 1.8 GTI engine.

Volkswagen XL1

Last, but not least on this list is the Volkswagen XL1 – a spaceship-looking highly efficient piece of German engineering.

With a starting price of over £100,000, this was no thing to be snuffed at. It was powered by a two-cylinder diesel engine which produced 68hp but was capable of a whopping 280mpg – a hell of a lot more than the Touareg seen above.

It was revolutionary and far ahead of its time and VW only sold 250 of them, which is a shame as it's very unlikely you will ever see one.

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Comments (22)

  • Type 2 van; surely the most iconic VW ever made?

      1 month ago
  • XL1 is a supercar focused on fuel economy. That has to be the craziest VW ever

      1 month ago
  • Founded in 1937, not 59! But tbh, I'm surprised an air cooled car wasn't included on this list I.e. the Beetle, Karmann Ghia or Type 1 camper. But I do agree with your picks: a Golf County has always been a guilty pleasure of mine...

      1 month ago
    • You are right and wrong. If it wasn't for the Brits who decided to reboot VW after WW II, there would not have been a VW today.

        1 month ago
  • No W12 Nardò? Alright...

      1 month ago
  • Where’s the R32 & R36?.

      1 month ago
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