23 January 2004

Volkswagen's new Golf received one of the industry's most coveted gong's at the Park Lane Hilton last night - our sister title WhatCar?'s Car of the Year award for 2004. The Golf, which went on sale last week, was chosen from the 18 category winners lauded in a glittering ceremony in London.

It is the fourth time that VW's hatch has scooped the honours in Britain’s ‘motoring Oscars’, the winning Golf being the £14,205 1.6-litre FSi model, which What Car?’s expert testers praised for its excellent drive, spacious interior, refinement and equipment. The promise of strong residual values and low tax bills for company drivers also counted in its favour.

What Car? editor Rob Aherne said: “The best thing about the Golf is its big-car feel. It’s so refined and roomy that you could easily mistake it for a much more expensive car from the inside.”

German cars dominated the running among the category winners. BMW won no fewer than four classes with cars as diverse as the new 5-series (Executive car) and Z4 (Roadster), and VW a total of three.

British honours were upheld by Jaguar with its new XJ (Luxury car), while other winners included the new Fiat Panda (City car), the Toyota Avensis (Family car), Volvo’s sought-after XC90 (4x4) and the style-conscious Mazda RX-8 (Coupé).

Renault claimed the coveted Safety award for its enduring commitment to driving up standards in crash protection, while Lexus took the Security award after its LS430 luxury car scored 100% in the magazine's annual theft-protection tests.

Our Verdict

Toyota Avensis

The Toyota Avensis is adequate but generally underwhelming family transport

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