On the list of cars car people love to hate, two models stand out: the Porsche 911 and the VW Golf GTI. Both are achingly good at bringing performance and dynamics to vehicles you can comfortably daily, and for some inexplicable reason people like to slate them for it. It’s not even like either of them are dull, unless you’re just after a weekend toy or track-day rocket.
The Golf is naturally the more affordable option to buy, fuel, insure and tax. In short, it’s right up the real-world alleys of car people like you. Like us. And the best one you can go and buy right now, if you’re being objective, is the Mk7. Newer ones are still well over £20,000, and don’t speak to us about the price of a Clubsport S.
The ordinary Mk7 is enough hot hatch for any sane person. Its standard 217bhp, delivered by the same EA888 four-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine used in the new one, is plenty for real-world overtakes without getting you into too much trouble too quickly. You can use its potential without fearing the wrath of every corner-exit tree trunk.
It rode well, delivered 35mpg or more if you knew the tricks, and had a kit cupboard well stocked with essential goodies. There was room for five, three- and five-door options to suit your taste and a distinctive exhaust layout within the Golf family. It was subtle but not stale; sporty but not shouty. It blended the incognito with the surprise punch, and in most of the ways that matter, it really was the perfect daily driver.
Inspired by the leak of the Mk8 version of the Golf GTI), we took to the classifieds. We quickly found this 2014 car at a car supermarket in the English town of Hinckley. It’s a basic GTI without the desirable but not strictly necessary £995 Performance Pack, but it does have expensive extra including full leather seats. At the time, they were a £1700 option.
With 78,750 miles behind it this 64-plate shouldn’t feel new but it looks very tidy from the photographs. We’d like a closer look at the condition of the leather driver’s seat, for one thing, but in this car’s favour is there’s no need to treat it gently. It’s never going to be a collector’s garage queen so you’ll never feel guilty about taking it out every day and keeping it exercised.
The price is £12,000, which is much more than you could pay for something with this level of performance, but for a car that was close to £30,000 less than six years ago, with modern-feeling interfaces and safety tech, not to mention enough performance to keep up with most other cars on most other roads, it’s a great buy. It even has an encouragingly clean MOT history. You absolutely should buy it.