Truth be told, this was one of the easiest decisions our judging panel had to make. Like the head boy who’s also captain of the football team, the Golf does almost everything well and nothing badly.

The VW was clearly the most able small car through the lane-change test. Our test car was fitted with Adaptive Chassis Control (a £680 option). With sport mode selected, the Golf darted through the cones. Data from the Al-Ko ATC system showed how much the caravan was moving around, but the Golf always remained firmly in control.

Driven less violently, it gave a comfortable ride with the chassis set to normal or comfort. One judge remarked that towing with the Golf felt like driving a much larger car.

Until the van is unhitched, that is. Then the VW turns back into a small, nimble hatchback. It’s equally happy on a favourite back road, taking the kids to school or on a long motorway drive. That’s partly thanks to the quiet and strong new engine, with much smoother power delivery than the old Golf’s 2.0-litre diesel.

The cabin is also better finished than before, and it’s reasonably spacious, too, with room for all but one item of luggage from our practicality team’s load.

As you’d expect, the Golf is a sensible buy. Fuel economy of 57.6mpg on the combined cycle is excellent. This together with CO2 emissions of just 129g/km make the Golf our Green Award-winner, too. What’s more, you can expect to get back 48% of the original price in three years’ time.

Other cars in this category
Up to 1425kg

Ford Focus

1.6 TDCi 110 Econetic DPF 5dr

Up to 1425kg

Kia Soul

1.6 CRDi 2

Up to 1425kg

Renault Mégane

1.9 dCi 130 Dynamique 5dr

Up to 1425kg

Subaru Impreza

1.5 R

Up to 1425kg

Volkswagen Golf

2.0 TDI 140 SE 5dr

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