Given 20 miles at the wheel, even the biggest car enthusiast would have to agree that this new Golf is a world-beater.

They’d probably notice the reserved handling – something that has characterised Golfs for decades – and they might even wonder, to begin with, what the car’s outstanding selling point is, because no single shining thing stands out.

Classless, functional, immaculate. No hatchback has a broader appeal

But it isn’t supposed to. This car’s qualities are not so much easy to overlook as intended to be taken for granted.

On material quality, rolling refinement, usability and functional simplicity, the Golf is outstanding.

Outright performance, ride and handling, cabin practicality and fuel efficiency may not be exceptional, but come highly commended. The Golf’s desirability endures too, of course.

Add competitive pricing and low ownership costs and the armour is complete. Find a chink in it if you can; we certainly can’t.

The best hatchback in the world shows no signs of being anything less.

Top 5 Family hatchbacks

  • More than 29 million Golfs have been sold since 1974

    Volkswagen Golf

    1
  • The standout component of the Ford Focus has always been its handling

    Ford Focus

    2
  • Leon
    Seat offers five engines for the Leon, ranging from a 104bhp 1.2 petrol to a 181bhp 2.0 diesel

    Seat Leon

    3
  • Mazda 3
    The SkyActiv platform used in the 3 features more high and ultra-high-strength steel, offering greater strength and less weight

    Mazda 3

    4
  • Peugeot 308
    The 308 marks the first time a carry-over name has been applied to an all-new Peugeot

    Peugeot 308

    5

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

  • First Drive
    30 June 2015
    Significant upgrades to the M6's Competition Package only serve to lift its appeal even more
  • First Drive
    29 June 2015
    Third-gen MPV exudes characteristic Volkswagen refinements, so it's solid, upmarket, smart and practical – albeit a bit bland
  • First Drive
    29 June 2015
    This Tucson is proof Hyundai hasn’t run out of momentum. If it's priced and specced keenly, it could be a rival to the class best.
  • First Drive
    26 June 2015
    A niche proposition as ever, but then Subaru revels in its uniqueness. This would be a significantly improved car with a conventional automatic or manual transmission
  • First Drive
    26 June 2015
    In the past we've rated the Toyota Auris as solid and dependable but hardly exciting. Has a mid-life refresh injected it with a sense of fun?