IN 1976 Save Your Kisses For Me was the Eurovision winner, a heatwave hit the UK and Second Division Southampton beat Manchester United in the FA Cup final.

And in the same year two fast legends of engineering were born.

Concorde, the first supersonic passenger airliner, made its first commercial flight from London to Bahrain while the Volkswagen Golf GTi hit the autobahns in Germany.

Incredibly, 41 years on, the GTi is still going strong with its new seventh generation and has sadly outlived its iconic cousin of the skies which ended service in 2003.

But just because it was the original doesn’t give it a free pass to a great review.

History and iconic status can we lost in a flash but that’s extremely unlikely with this legend of a car.

Volkswagen Golf GTi

Volkswagen Golf GTi

In 2017 the Golf range, including the GTI, received a mild makeover with some mild styling tweaks and an updated infotainment system. The GTI also got more power, too, but is that enough to keep it at the top of the pile of a class of cars that includes the Ford Focus ST?

It may be a hot hatch, but the GTi has a premium feel to it more like an exec Audi than a niche version of one of the top-selling family hatchbacks.

The tartan seat trim, golf ball gearlever and flat-bottomed three-spoke steering wheel all invoke memories of the original GTI.

The rest of its cabin is best-in-class, with touchscreen multimedia, ambient lighting, and the sort of high quality, purposeful atmosphere many rivals can only dream about.

And because it’s German, the GTi is a very functional car, particularly the five-door that has room for four adults and luggage, making it ideal daily transport.

The GTI is powered by a 2.0-litre, 217bhp turbocharged four-pot, which is good for 0-62mph in 6.5 seconds, and a top speed of 152mph.

But it’s the range of performance that impresses. You can cruise smoothly all day on the motorway, but floor the accelerator and you’ll hear a wonderful deep rasp from the engine that bursts into a crescendo of sweet music.

Volkswagen Golf GTi

Volkswagen Golf GTi

As for the handling, the GTi is a dream. Pin-sharp steering allows you to corner with total confidence and smoothness. There’s none of the usual torque steer that curses hot hatches and makes driving them hard work  this is a precision machine, with lots of technical gadgets under the skin, that compliments the talented driver and flatters the average driver.

What I really love is that despite all the premium quality and bling, the GTi still feels like the first car you ever drove, it has the feedback of a go-kart.

VW claims an impressive fuel economy of 47.1mpg for the GTI, while CO2 emissions of 139g/km put it in band E. On top of that, the fitment of emergency braking means the GTI sits a full five insurance groups lower than before.

The GTi was already great. Now it’s even better. It’s easy to see why this is many people’s default hot hatch.

This is the car for every mood. In the world of hot hatches, it’s simply supersonic.

Phil Lanning

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