"The first Volkswagen Golf GTI, the origin of the species, was, and still is, a little bullet of fun," says Erin Baker in The Daily Telegraph. Can the latest generation, the MkVI, live up to the standards set by the 1981 model?
Well, it almost "seems like heresy to say it", but the 2009 model is even better. When you climb behind the wheel it seems like a heavy, lumbering beast, but once you're on the move, you realise "what a wonderful invention power steering was, ditto servo-assisted brakes".
And as for its modern day rivals, including VW's own Scirroco? "I'd take the GTI above all others," says Baker. It's the answer to the question every motoring journalist dreads: if you could have any car, what would it be? The GTI is the answer because it's so many cars in one: a family load lugger, urban commuter, sports car, icon.
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There are faster hot hatches on the market, says What Car, but the GTI "is still seriously quick". The 0-62mph sprint takes just 6.9 seconds and "it doesn't stop accelerating until you're nudging 150mph".
If anything, the low- and mid-range pull is even more impressive: "even when cruising in a high gear at a handful of revs, you can floor the throttle and flash past slower traffic".
As with all Golfs, the GTI is "about as swanky as small family hatches get", and the comfortable, tartan-trimmed cloth seats are heavily bolstered to hold you in place during hard cornering. Other sporty touches include a flat-bottomed steering wheel and drilled aluminium pedals.
In short, says Ben Barry in Car, this is "the 911 of hot hatches". "And there's no greater praise than that."
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