3: Volkswagen Golf – king of the family hatchbacks retains its crown

Top cars for 2018: Something for everyone in the range of engine options and strong residuals, despite the recent diesel scandal


Amid all the swirling diesel scandal, the talk of electric futures and autonomous tomorrows, the rise of the SUV and the fall of the family saloon, the one true and steady constant in motoring is the Volkswagen Golf. So ubiquitous as to occasionally be overlooked, it is one of the few, anti-fashion slices of pure common sense left in the car world.

There is, as the man on the telly still says, one for everyone in the audience. Those looking for an affordable, but classy, family hatch should get the excellent new 115hp 1.0-litre TSI petrol.

A 1.6 or 2.0-litre TDI, especially in commodious estate form, is ideal for those long schleps up and down the motorway. A GTI is pure driving pleasure in a sensible hatchback body, while the R is a 310hp, all-wheel-drive, all- weather stealth strike weapon.

Want to be more forward looking? The GTE and recently-revised E-Golf can offer you as much or as little electric motoring as you can handle, though at a steep price.

The fact that the Golf is ranked so high in our Top 100 says something, as well, about all the supposed challengers and replacements rolled out in the last year, or the last decade.

During a recent trip to the continent, a last-minute dash to a car rental desk meant we were behind the wheel of a Golf again, for the first time in several months. We’d forgotten just how good and well-rounded this car is, but 1,200kms later, it had proved its worth. There’s a reason so many motorists look no further.

Best model: 115hp 1.0 TSI Comfortline

Prices start from: €21,095

Finance package from: €241 per month

CO2 emissions: 0-163g/km

Sum-up: 33 million customers can’t be wrong, right?