Passenger & boot space
How it copes with people and clutter
There's loads of space in the front of the Volkswagen Golf GTI. The interior is broad, so you sit with breathing room between you and your passenger, and there's more than enough head and leg room to accommodate a taller chap or lass – assuming they're not a contender to play Jaws in the next James Bond film.
In the rear, things are a little less generous. The latest Golf has dropped behind the leaders for rear seat space, so both the Ford Focus ST and Honda Civic Type R will offer your rear passengers more space to lounge about in. Mind you, the GTI isn't cramped, because you can still sit two tall adults in the back, but there's not a surplus of space – and even less if you want to squeeze a third in the middle seat.
There's lots of storage space, though, with compartments and cupholders in the front for pretty much every need, plus a decent-sized glovebox and door bins to boot.
Speaking of which, the boot is okay but, like the rear seats, not mammoth by the standards of other rivals'. It'll fit a pushchair but will struggle to fit a set of golf clubs lengthways. In our suitcase tally test, the Golf swallowed five carry-on cases under its parcel shelf – one less than the Focus and two less than the Civic. You do get a height-adjustable boot floor, for added flexibility, plus 60/40 split-folding rear seatbacks and a ski hatch, to create extra room when required.
The Up GTI is the best budget hot hatch you can buy
The Abarth 595 is startlingly quick and wonderfully stylish, b...
The Suzuki Swift Sport is well equipped and fun to drive, but...
Without upping your budget considerabl...