Volkswagen Golf hatchback

£16,975 - £30,845

The Volkswagen Golf has been around for years and, looking at the latest model, it's easy to see why. The Golf may be a little more expensive than its rivals, but it also looks better built, both inside and out.

The new car has also closed the gap on the Ford Focus, which has traditionally been the most fun-to-drive model in the class. The Golf gets an excellent range of engines that help it do that, ranging from the basic Golf S to the quick Golf GT, very economical BlueMotion up to the super-fast R model. The new Volkswagen Golf Match is even better value than the old SE model.

Volkswagen has recently introduced a plug-in hybrid version of the Golf called the GTE, which combines a petrol engine with an electric motor for very low running costs. The car comes after the all electric e-Golf and is a better compromise between the economy of the all-electric version and the practicality and performance of the conventional models.

Another strength of the Golf is the interior trim, which feels a class above its rivals. The dashboard in particular is built from soft-touch plastics and is very easy to use.

Even the entry-level S model gets decent levels of equipment including a DAB digital radio and air conditioning, while top-of-the-range models can be specced to match an executive saloon.