It seems only right that after all these years - more than 35 of them, now - the car that started the GTI craze is still at the top of the pile. The new Golf GTI may be larger and heavier than its iconic predecessor, but it still holds the same jack of all trades master of all, too ethos. There are more exciting hot hatchbacks, but theres no better all-rounder.
Praise for the Golf is near-universal. This starts with the styling, which is both instantly recognisable as a Golf, and instantly recognisable as a GTI. The effect is subtle, but the stunning alloy wheels, darkened headlight lenses, subtle red striping around the grille and retro-style GTI badge all set the tone perfectly. The same can be said for the interior, which is swathed in the same tartan pattern found inside the original GTI.
Critics describe the Golfs driving experience as providing a close to ideal balance between ride and handling - itll scoot around corners with the best of them, without shaking you and your family to pieces over the bumps. Whether using a manual gearbox or VWs cutting-edge dual-clutch unit, youll enjoy stirring the 2.0-litre turbocharged engine too, with its perfect blend of torque and power.
That the GTI also offers all the same levels of practicality youd find in a normal Golf, decent fuel economy and competitive value for money only goes to reinforce one testers comment that the GTI is the best car in the world that you can possibly buy right now. Not all would go that far, but all would certainly agree - over 35 years since the original Golf GTI hit the scene, VW still knows how to make a cracker of a hot hatchback.