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The Rabbit, then Golf, now Rabbit (and in many parts of the globe, still Golf) isn’t the prototypical performance car foundation. The hatchback, in and of itself, is not exactly a stunner. Basic versions of this vehicle can be had with as little as 75bhp in some countries.

In fact, with the current GTI, Volkswagen harks back to the first generation, not only with plaid seats, but – more importantly – with a rediscovered down-the-road adeptness. Great advertising, spectacular wheels, a futuristic transmission, and a punchy turbocharged four-pot combine to generate plenty of true GTI cred.

And when it comes to hot hatchbacks, a vehicle’s accreditation carries sway into the future, affecting the sales of future generations. Let’s be honest: if the current GTI drove like the VR6 of 2000, there wouldn’t be enough takers to make the development worth VW’s worthwhile. As it is, the GTI is a driver’s car, going so far as to assure at least some sales of the next generation, on this model’s reputation alone. For that, GoodCarBadCar gives honour.


Engines: 200 horsepower and 200 lb-ft of torque from a 2.0L turbocharged four-cylinder.

Mileage: City high = 21mpg. City low = 22mpg.

Base USD Price: $22,730

Anything Else? Unimpressively, taking the GTI up another notch to all-wheel drive/V6 (the R32) adds way too much cost and subtracts way too much involvement. The GTI is the Gabbit happy medium.