The Volkswagen Golf from Graz

07 June 2023
Reflecting on one of Volkswagen’s most interesting variations of the second generation Golf.
The Volkswagen Golf from Graz Images

Although now into its eighth generation, with press conjecture currently speculating over the motive power format of the ninth generation, it is easy to momentarily forget that the first generation Golf was launched almost half a century ago. Amongst the many high points in that time was the A4 (PQ34) platform debuted on the Audi A3 in 1996, which came with the fourth generation Golf introduced in 1997. A platform designed to be shared with many of the Golf’s contemporaries in the VW Group, including the New Beetle.

But let’s turn the clock back further to the high points of the second generation Golf, launched in Europe at the IAA in September 1983. This A2 generation, along with the the preceding A1, are now considered by many enthusiasts as the Golf’s heyday. Whilst arguably not as immediately appealing styling wise as the outgoing A1, the A2 nevertheless quickly matured and evolved into a range that included the most desirable GTi versions ever made. Then there were also something like the twenty well-packaged Special Edition Golf A2s manufactured between 1985 and 1991. Each came with their own brochures in an era when Volkswagen was marketing a lot of Special Editions right across the range under a consistent banner of “Die neueste Idee von Volkswagen:”

As the eighties rolled over into the nineties, the A2 Golf range saw the ultimate developments of several models, including the GTI and all-wheel-drive Syncro. That variation was first introduced in 1986, and further developed into the Golf Rallye in 1989. Even further development in turn prompted Volkswagen to show yet another ‘neueste Idee’ at the 1989 Geneva Motor Show - the Golf 4x4 ‘Montana’ concept. This took the standard four-door Syncro several stages onwards and was, in reality, far from just a visual makeover. Enthusiastic press and public reaction brought forward advanced orders prompting a swift decision that it should enter production. Renaming it as the ‘Country', Volkswagen extended its joint working with Steyr-Daimler-Puch’, in Graz, Austria, to facilitate manufacture. This enabled Golf 98 PS (72 kW) 1.8 CL Syncros supplied from Germany to be finished out in Graz as the Country, alongside 4x4 syncro versions of Volkswagen’s third generation typ.2 transporters – work that needed over 430 unique parts to be installed on each Golf Country in Austria to complete it.

Total Golf Country production amounted to 7,735 units, completed between April 1990 and October 1991. Of these, 5,627 were in the original Country guise in a limited range of paint colours: Montanagrün metallic, Brightblue metallic, Tornadorot, Dunkelgrün, and Schwarz, the first three of which are the most commonly seen finishes.

These were supplemented by three other versions of the Country, each made in relatively low numbers. The first an interesting more utilitarian, lower specification, Country Allround (1,500 units) in Waldgrün. Second an ostentatious Country Chrompaket in black, with an abundance of chromed fittings (558 units). Third and finally, an exclusive Country GTI with the 112 PS (82 kW) 1.8 GTI petrol engine made for Volkswagen AG staff working on the Country project (50 units).

It seems crazy now that it was over eight years ago - back in January 2015 - that OttOmobile released it first colour version of the Golf Country in Montana Green metallic (OT143), so this second colour version in Bright Blue metallic is a very welcome, long overdue new release.

OttOmobile Volkswagen Golf Country - 1990 (OT973)

Straight away, it needs to be said that OttOmobile’s back catalogue of Golf models is impressive and includes a good selection of the A2 GTI versions. The Country is really superb model in its own right and equally superb companion to the A2 GTIs and Rallye that I reviewed in “G40, G60, GTi, go…” (January 2021 issue).

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For once, I’m going start from an unusual viewpoint, by looking at the model’s chassis plate. Quite often this is a comparatively low detail feature of most models, but on the Country it is very pertinent. Here we find OttOmobile including detail of the Austrian installed tubular steel under frame and revised suspension that raised the standard Syncro by 12cm.

We also find the sleeves protecting the four outboard constant-velocity joints, the sub-frame to protect the rear Syncro differential & prop shaft and the engine protection skid plate. Then, moving up from the protection plate, we find more of those unique Country components – a very finely modelled front protection bar set, together with driving lights and fog lights, all with factory-fitted protection.

At the rear, a reinforced bumper with step plates and the distinctive, signature, spare wheel and carrier. Because the rear half of the 4x4 drive system took up much of the boot space, standard Synchros were supplied ex-factory with optional space saver wheels, or get-you-home inflation kits – options plainly not in keeping with the function of the Country, so a spare was mounted on a tubular gate frame arrangement that swung outwards to the vehicle’s left, allowing the standard Golf tailgate to be accessed in the normal way.

The accurately-modelled alloy wheel rims are yet another Country specific fitting, but other than the sill protection covers and extra components already listed, the body was that of the contemporary standard four-door Golf shell. Finishing touches include Syncro badging on the rubber side trims and the full set of Country logo embellishments to body sides, rear panel and wheel cover. Consistent with OttOmobile models, the authenticity of detailing and quality of modelling is again superb.

Taking a look into the interior, we find a good representation of the unique seat facing cloth to the grey upholstery - a feature of many of the A2 Golf Special editions, each in edition related colours and patterns.

I hope very much that we don’t have to wait another seven years for a third Country version from OttOmobile. Whilst I can easily live without a model of the Country Chrompaket, a repeat colour version of the standard Country in Tornado Red would be very welcome.

Perhaps even higher on my wish list would be the slightly different specification Country Allround. This would require only a small amount of retooling, yet bring forward a version of the Country as yet unmodelled in any scale.