We continue with the Volkswagen Golf’s through the years journey with two recent models that are still fresh in the memory – the Mk5 and Mk6 Golfs.

The regular Golf Mk5 was a revolution when it debut in October 2003, being bigger, safer and boasting higher quality. It was visually reinvented, mixing the Golf’s characteristic C-pillar with a sporty front end (the slope on the hood, windshield rake) and muscular silhouette. For the first time, the bonnet follows the contour of the headlight, like a sports car, VW says. The brand’s DSG dual-clutch gearbox surfaced in this generation.

Above all, the Mk5 will be remembered as the Golf generation that brought the GTI hot hatch back to form. That’s true for both Malaysia – where the Mk5 GTI first came in as Wald-tuned cars before VW had an official presence here – and the world, where the fast Golf impressed with its sharp dynamics and performance. Also, the unmistakeable black grille, telephone-dial alloys and tartan seats gave it real character.

The Mk6 Golf brought plenty of technology to the segment when it replaced the Mk5 in 2008. An evolution, the sixth-gen car “took the technology and looks of the Golf V a step further,” Wolfsburg says.

In addition to TSI and DSG, new assistance systems such as Adaptive Cruise Control, Park Assist auto parking, automatic main beam management Light Assist, Hill Hold function, tyre pressure monitoring and DCC adaptive chassis control combined to make the Mk6 a democracy of technology (the headline I used for Autocar Asean’s first drive report of the Golf Mk6 in Iceland), bringing luxury car tech to the masses.

With nine airbags (driver’s knee airbag included) and improved soundproofing, it was also a safer and more refined machine. The Mk6 later went on to be named World Car of the Year in 2009. “Wherever you looked, you could see that Volkswagen had reached the height of auto engineering,” said Klaus Bischoff, head of Volkswagen Design.