Volkswagen Golf on ice

While I have driven humbler, cheaper small cars that are more fun than this 2.0-litre diesel-powered all-wheel-drive Golf, none have been this thorough and complete in terms of solidity, refinement and suppression of wind noise. In fact, it’s nothing short of a Passat or a Phaeton in a smaller body shell. The cabin is roomy enough for five, erm, dimensionally-gifted adults. Even the boot can take four full-sized suitcases – two in the floor, two in the parcel shelf. And that is thanks to the long-standing and most significant design element of the Golf – that broad C-pillar. It’s a design element like the bug-eyed headlights of a 911, or the kidney grille in a BMW.

It’s been a hallmark of the Golf for the last four decades and it’s what makes it one of the few hatches in the world that can seat five with lots of headroom and still have luggage space that’s one quarter the length of the car.