SOTW: VW Citi Golf

With the arguable exceptions of the VR6 and 16-valve GTI models, the Mk3 VW Golf is generally regarded as the least desirable of all the iterations of VW's family hatch.

So a 1996 Golf, on the face of it, is not going to make a particularly grand SOTW. But there was a Golf product around in 1996 that we reckon makes a worthy (and rare) Shed of the Week - the South African-built Citi Golf.

Okay, so it's hardly rare in SA, where it was produced from 1984 right up until August 2009, and where 375,000 examples of what is essentially a facelifted Golf were churned out over the course of a quarter of a century, but here in Blighty it's hardly a common sight.

The Citi Golf is also a fascinating insight into how cars could have been had all the pesky safety features (multiple airbags and electronic acronyms have no place here) not wormed their way into the modern automobile. In fact, even the final Citi Golfs, a 1000-run special edition released last year, the only concession to modern vehicle safety was a driver's airbag.

The result is a family hatch that weighs in at less than 900kg, while its cousins who travelled down another evolutionary path entirely tip the scales at around 1400kg.

The result, we're told (nobody in the PH office has driven one) is a rather sparky handler and sprightly performer. We'll let the truly Queef-esque hyperbole of one South-African reviewer, who tested the final edition for TopCar magazine, explain:

"In a world of more powerful, more sophisticated and more intelligent metal, it takes just one blast from a traffic light and a tight corner or two for a seasoned driver to recall why the Citi still owns the lower rungs of the 'enthusiast's car' ladder.

"Pin the clutch to the footwell, keep the throttle steady at a virile 3500rpm - more than that will incinerate the rubber - and ease off the clutch till all that's holding you back is the handbrake. Then pin the throttle to the Mk1 branded floormat as you simultaneously dump handbrake and clutch. Whooooar. No chirrup from a nannied set of traction-controlled front tyres; instead you're deafened by the banshee squeal of rubber fighting for and losing and finding grip on tar, before the Mk1 Citi is catapulted on its charge forward."

We doubt that our Shed would earn such scintillating prose from our South African chum, being as it is rather older, and possibly not possessed of the 100bhp 1.6 that had him so dribblingly excited. In fact, the 1.3-litre motor is hardly likely to elicit drooling enthusiasm from anybody, but at least the car's handling should remain as engagingly sprightly.

But apart from the less-than-desirable engine (though the idea of a manual choke and a four-speed transmission is perversely appealing), only than a couple of small rust patches and a ripped driver's seat seem to spoil this Citi Golf's party.

It's got some history (even from before it was imported to the UK in 2000), its 64,626-mile odo is reasonably light, and it's got plenty of tax and ticket left. As a quirky way to go shopping, it's got more than a little semi-retro appeal. And you try finding a decent Mk1 Golf GTI for 950 notes...

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Advert is reproduced below

VW Golf Citi 1.3 £950 (1996)
64,626 miles £950

Sellling my white Mk1 golf Citi. Imported into UK 12/05/00 from South Africa where they are manufactured (1996) 
Its had 3 owners including me. 104,006 Km (64,626 miles), Some service history from SA and Uk. 

Tax - Exp. 31/05/11 
M.O.T - Exp. 26/08/11 

I have had work done on the exterior of the car. This includes 

BBS RA's fitted 
Black side trim added 
New front wing P/S 
Machine polished all over, tailgate resprayed 

I have also had a new exhaust fitted recently 

5 door 
CD player (Can also supply original cassette) 
Manual Windows 
Manual Choke 
4 speed 

Bad points 

two surface rust patches 
small rip on drivers bolster 

Email me or ring me if you're interested 




P.H. O'meter

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Comments (163) Join the discussion on the forum

  • DannyVTS 18 Mar 2011

    Do not want :\

    Why does it have a GTi Grille?

  • dbdb 18 Mar 2011

    The Golf is not my kind of car at all but this one is a curiosity, I suppose. My mother had a 1.3CL up to the late 'eighties. It was reasonably well built for the time but about as dull as cars get. It was the first car I drove; the Peugeot 309SR she replaced it with made the VW feel like a tractor.

    After the XJ12HE and the Granada 2.8i Ghia X Executive, this weeks SOTW is a return to grey Germanic porridge.

  • Faust66 18 Mar 2011

    Ah well, after the great sheds of the last 2 weeks I suppose a downturn was inevitable…

    It’s an acceptable shopping car, and I suppose the frugal 1.3 lump would be quite handy given the current cost of petrol, but I’d rather be in a V12 Jag or smoking around in a lump of an old Granada and damn the expense!

  • denniswise9 18 Mar 2011

    worst SOTW ever?

  • kayzee 18 Mar 2011

    Not bad, looks good in white. My mum also had an old 1.3 Mk2 back in the days, lastest her well in fact she says it's her favourite that shes owned... these seem to be pretty mechanically sound so I'd probably give it a punt for that price, shame it's not 3dr though!

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