This is my favourite Golf, and the Mk4 is regarded internally as the style icon in the family. It surfaced in 1997, the time when Titanic conquered the box office and you couldn’t escape “My Heart Will Go On” anywhere you tried – from the radio to the pasar malam CD seller, it was everywhere. Remember?

Created under the direction of then Volkswagen Group head of design Hartmut Warkuß (1993 to 2003), the fourth-generation Golf is considered a style icon because of its graphic clarity and fundamental C-pillar series design, forming a bridge to the 1974 Golf Mk1.

“The Golf is a monument. A car that seamlessly followed in the footsteps of the globally successful Beetle. It made good sense to reinforce the company strategy in an evolutionary rather than revolutionary way. It is important to demonstrate a high degree of continuity,” emphasised Warkuß.

It may be evolution at play, but nothing was carried over from the Mk3, not a single body panel of the entirely redesigned new model. The front window is flatter, the rear window is steeper, the roof extends even further back. The headlamps were cased in clear glass for the first time.

For this observer, the Golf Mk4 projects a very soild image, and it doesn’t look out of place in today’s Europe, which is still full of Mk4s. Even Giorgetto Giugiaro, the legend who penned the first Golf, liked what he saw. “The genetic material of the Golf is still evident in its fourth generation,” the Italian said.

Looks aside, the fourth Golf was groundbreaking in its engineering as well. Wolfsburg achieved a new standard of quality in this market segment then with this car (fully galvanised body, reduced panel gaps), and the company claims that it became the first manufacturer to overcome vehicle class boundaries. With the debut of Electronic Stability Control (ESC) in the Golf in 1998, the car also brought safety tech to the masses. By 2003, 4.99 million units of the Golf Mk4 were produced.