The GTI really is all things to all men. You can drop the kids at school, do the weekly shopping and even take your recycling to the tip with ease.
However, the minute you find a twisty stretch of B-road, the GTI will blow your socks off. That's because its turbocharged 2.0-litre engine has plenty of poke, yet it's also civilised and easy to live with.
The Golf also has massive grip and traction, while the firm suspension allows great handling, but not at the expense of ride comfort.
Plenty of GTIs have VW's smooth DSG semi-auto transmission, but it's not quite as satisfying to use as the standard six-speed manual gearbox.
Name Chris Mobley
Job Manager, Blackhorse Car Sales
Verdict: 'A scream to drive and highly versatile. True to the original GTI's ethos, it'll make any driver smile.'
You get lots of toys, too, including two-zone climate control, stability control and ISOFIX child-seat anchor points.
Finding a good example at a sensible price is possible if you look in the right places. Smaller independents have cheaper, higher-mileage cars, but consider these only if they're in good condition and have a complete service history.
Larger car supermarkets and independents have the best choice of three-year-old cars with average miles, but look in dealers for the newest cars.
Be wary of accident-repaired or stolen/recovered vehicles sold privately or from independents – these will be worth noticeably less, even if they've been professionally repaired.