The VW Golf is the quintessence of German automotive engineering: A no-nonsense, high-tech car for the masses with an image that's as neutral as distilled water. No one looks silly driving a Golf. It's a classless car.

Today's Golf IV is several orders of magnitude safer, more comfortable and more practical than the classic 1970s Golf I. It's available in several versions, and there's a myriad of possible add-ons: more powerful engines (or super-low-consumption direct injection diesel TDI engines), power windows, classy stereos, plush and/or posh seats, navigation system and whatnot. This palette is topped off by the designated sports version, the GTI. Incidentally, the Golf GTI is the most frequently-stolen car in Germany.

Getting a brand-spanking-new black Golf IV GTI as his 18th birthday present, driver's licence in pocket (you need to be 18 to drive in Germany), is nearly every German 17-year-old boy's wet dream. I, frankly, don't care much, I drive around in my mother's scruffy Golf II.

Once an economy car, produced by Volkswagen or VW for short, it is nowadays fetish and obsession of many working-class males in Middle Europe, who customize their cars in sometimes awkward and bizarre way and cruise about town with windows down, and its 1000W stereo booming at full power.

The good point in it is, that those guys tend to drive like mad and thus used replacement parts aren't difficult to get.

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