What Car? Car of the Year awards 2010 - Small family car winner

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  • 16 categories of awards
  • All the winning models featured here
  • What Car? Car of the Year 2010 revealed
The winner
Volkswagen Golf 1.4 TSI SE 5dr
List price £17,456
Target price £16,428

It's all the car most people will ever need. We say that every time a Volkswagen Golf comes our way. Other manufacturers keep trying to unseat it, but the Golf always has the measure of them. Were some kind of socialist nirvana ever to be established, we’d all be driving one, because the Golf really lives up to its maker’s name – it truly is the people’s car.

It’s sensibly priced (just look at what Ford and Vauxhall charge for a comparable Focus or Astra), you can get five people in it, the fit and finish are exemplary, and the specification of our chosen SE model leaves little to be desired. Not only that, but when you’ve finished with it, you’ll get back a far higher proportion of your investment than with any other rival.

Winning costs
In between the buying and the selling, you’ll have a car that’s functional, cheap to run and a pleasure to drive or ride in. You’ll get more than 40 miles out of every gallon if you drive with a modicum of restraint, negating the need to go for a more expensive diesel model unless you’re a really high-mileage driver, while business users will be taxed at only 16% of its list price – that’s another big advantage the Golf holds over the Focus.

Insurers love Golf buyers because they are seen as level-headed types. Servicing is anything but exorbitant, too.

Don’t think that the 1.4-litre engine will be too weedy for a car of this size, either. The Golf’s turbocharged TSI engine develops plenty of torque at low revs, a recipe for good driveability. The ride and handling strike an ideal balance: not too soggy to stop you enjoying the drive, but not too stiff to pummel you over every bump.

It all makes you wonder how Volkswagen will ever improve on it. We’re sure it will one day, of course, but right now we can’t see where.

What Car? Car of the Year awards 2010 - Family car contenders


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