Model: Volkswagen Golf GTI 2.0 TSI 5dr, from £26.780 on the road.
Engine: 2.0-litre turbo petrol unit developing 217bhp.
Transmission: 6-speed manual transmission as standard, driving the front wheels.
Performance: Maximum speed 152mph, 0-62mph 6.5 seconds.
Economy: 47.1mpg.
CO2 Rating: 139g/km.

IT’S a sign of progress that there’s more choice in the hot hatch market than ever before. Diesel power is now considered a worthy alternative to the traditional petrol motors that have dominated the market.

Volkswagen has been a stalwart of the hot hatch market with its Golf GTI. And while you can have a tax and wallet-friendly diesel GTD variant, there’s something about the petrol model that will always be the one you buy with your heart.

Seventh time around and the Golf GTI remains a visually conservative choice. The car’s squat stance is the obvious giveaway, but save for the GTI badging and oh-so subtle bodykit, this is not a car that announces its arrival with a foghorn.

There’s nothing conservative about the car’s performance potential, however. Evolution has seen power outputs rise across the board, although it’s what you do with the extra horses that matters the most. Volkswagen’s weapon of choice remains the faithful 2.0-litre, four-cylinder format, although in seventh generation guise output is a more than adequate 217bhp. Opt for VW’s own Performance Pack and you gain another 10bhp plus bigger brakes and a limited slip differential - a first for the Golf GTI.

Things get interesting when you up the pace, with the Golf capable of delivering a confidence inspiring drive that will flatter the novice and encourage the keen driver to push harder. es of the driving envelope It’s been designed from the outset to be a composed and refined car – call it GTI Luxe if you wish. That said, the bigger brakes and trick diff do make a tangible difference and further sharpen responses and, in the case of the latter, allow you to put the power down earlier in the corners. As a rounded package with the potential to excite and pamper the Golf GTI remains a tough act to follow.