Why The Volkswagen Golf GTI won: It’s desirable, fast and exciting yet also smart, usable and less shouty than its rivals. Feels ready for just about anything.
The Golf GTI is just one of the winners in this year's Britain's Best Car Awards - see the full list here.
It won’t come as a surprise that our award winner here is a hatchback. Fashion may increasingly favour other, bigger, heavier bodystyles, but fashions are temporary. When you look at how versatile hatchbacks are and how much they offer for often so little outlay, it’s hard to argue that an all-rounder gong could go to anything else.
Not all hatchbacks are created equal; some offer premium brand refinements and desirability, others added performance and driver appeal. Yet if a small band of designers and engineers hadn’t got together at Volkswagen in 1974 to set out on the unofficial, out-of-hours project that would lead to the first Golf GTI, today’s highly developed hatchback market would probably look very different.
No single car has done more, over eight model generations and more than 40 years, to demonstrate how ready people are to pay a premium for a hatchback of extra-special status and abilities, from which they know they can get their money’s worth in everyday use. One that can mould itself to the school run or office commute just as effectively as a weekend errand or a longer trip. One that might just be practical enough to take a small family on holiday without imposing itself too much en route; that needn’t be mollycoddled or hidden in the car park; and that says just enough about its owner without shouting too loudly. One dynamically versatile enough that it can provide easy transport on a 2am airport return but that can also reward and involve vividly enough to make you minded to seek quieter, more interesting roads and more entertaining occasions for driving it. One that does all this yet still costs a reasonable price.