Goodbye CITi GOLf

LATE City Press motoring editor Steve Dlamini-Kabini would have celebrated this week's Volkswagen announcement more than anyone else.

LATE City Press motoring editor Steve Dlamini-Kabini would have celebrated this week's Volkswagen announcement more than anyone else.

Dlamini-Kabini, who died in a motorbike crash earlier this year, had called for the end of the VW Citi Golf long before anyone else.

This week Volkswagen South Africa announced the end of the legendary Citi Golf but refused to divulge what is going to replace it. Unlike Dlamini-Kabin's gripes about the Citi's safety credentials, the company's decision was motivated by financial reasons.

The last 1000 Citi Golf MK1s were produced at the Uitenhage plant in August.

The limited edition Golf MK1 was created to celebrate the end of production of "this great car", according to Volkwagen SA.

Speaking at a press conference in Midrand this week, VWSA managing director David Powels said the Citi's impact was too great to match.

"No car in SA and in the world could ever do what the Citi Golf has done," he said

The Golf 1 was launched in 1978.

When Golf 2 came onto the market VWSA made a presentation to the mother company in Germany to continue the Golf 1 platform.

Permission was granted and the rest is history.

In 1984 the Citi Golf was selling 300 units a month. Fast forward to July 2009 and the Citi sold 1630 units in the toughest economic conditions.

The limited edition MK1 Golf comes with a 1,6-litre petrol engine that has 74kW of power.

According to Powels the Citi Golf was no longer financially viable for the company, hence the decision to can it.

Even though his company would replace the Citi with another entry-level vehicle, Powels said it would be difficult to match the pricing of the Golf.

After 10 years since its world premiere in June 1974, Golf 1 was replaced in 1983 by Golf 2 in Europe and in 1984 in South Africa. Bigger and more sophisticated, the new Golf was more expensive than its predecessor. The imminent introduction of Golf 2 put VWSA in a quandary of finding a vehicle that will offer consumers a fun, affordable and cheap-to-run car. VWSA was about to vacate its traditional entry level segment, which was a stepping stone for first-time Volkswagen buyers to move up the ladder.

The need for a car to replace Golf 1 in that segment of the market became a priority. The planning to find the replacement of Golf started in 1982.

A number of scenarios were put forward and among them was the possible introduction of Polo which was introduced in Europe in 1975.

The idea of retaining Golf 1 went through a number of processes, not the least of which was in what form the car would be marketed. Eventually, it was decided that Golf 1 will be retained and be marketed as the Econo Golf.

The limited edition 2009 Citi MK1 retails at R113500.