Make no mistake: the arrival of a new Volkswagen Golf is still a seismic event in the automotive universe.
Perennially high standards and household status has established each as a benchmark. Beat them and you have built something exceptional. Fall beneath and you are in the chasing pack along with everything else.
The latest Golf, the Mk7, flattered to deceive, barely appearing new at all while underneath wearing Volkswagen’s much-heralded MQB platform – a modular stage on which much of its future would be set.
Everything, then, had subtly changed outside and in, yet nothing was different. The just-so perfection of the ergonomics, the subtle solidity of the build, the immaculate but anonymous dynamic and the polished ambience that makes the Golf a class-of-one car proved just as reassuringly familiar as they were in previous generations.
Even now, almost a year on, there is nothing outstanding to relate about the original experience beyond a warm sense of unfaltering appreciation that goes with it. And that’s as intended. Volkswagen wants you to take the Golf for granted.
It wants you to feel comfortable and catered for and invests billions to ensure that when you sit there for the first, third, millionth time, you just think: ‘That’s it. That’s right. I’m home’. Its genius for doing this – and continuing to nail the margins that will ultimately distinguish it from the mechanically almost identical Audi A3 and Seat Leon – make the Golf as worthy an addition to this list as the more memorable machines that top it.
Tune in to Autocar.co.uk again tomorrow as we continue our rundown of the best cars of 2013.