Good hot hatches need to blend practicality with strong performance and grin-a-minute handling. Back in 1976 it was the VW Golf GTI that kicked off the phenomenon of a powerful engine plonked into a family-friendly hatchback body, so it would be easy to assume that VW has the format licked, and that the Golf GTI is the best there is.
But just because it was the original doesn’t give it a free pass to a great What Car? review. In our book legacy counts for nothing; we exist to inform you what’s the best hot hatch you can buy today based on facts: how well does it go and how easy it is to live with day to day, relative to the competition?
In 2017 the Golf range, including the GTI, received a mild makeover with some mild styling tweaks and an updated infotainment system. The GTI also got more power, too, but is that enough to keep it at the top of the pile of a class of cars that includes the Ford Focus ST?
Read on over the next few pages to find all the answers.