It has taken bravery to redefine what remains the biggest-selling new car in Europe as Volkswagen just has.

Some will simply see it as ‘another Golf’. Others may not even think it a particularly attractive one. And yet there was clear risk in subtly but markedly reappraising this car’s ride and handling as VW has; and more so, probably, in reimagining the cabin ergonomics, and in betting big on relatively expensive touchscreen infotainment technology and the latest active safety systems.

New strengths and familiar ones carry it back to the class lead

While this car lacks a little of the lavish material plushness we’ve grown used to from Golfs, it’s no disappointment for perceived quality. Meanwhile, in the way it drives - for its laudable refinement, economy, versatility and drivability and, above all else, simply for its ready-for-anything completeness as a compact family car – it remains in a league of one.

Just as with previous Golfs, it’s not necessarily the outstanding operator in any one area that may particularly interest you; not for premium feel, performance, efficiency, on-board technology or driver appeal. But being so strong in so many areas can leave it in only one lofty place among its peers.

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