Volkswagen Golf GTI

Price: £22,410
Top speed: 147 mph 0-60mph 6.9 seconds
Consumption: 38.2 mpg
CO2 emissions: 173g/km
Best for: Trammps
Also worth considering? Skoda Octavia VRS, Vauxhall Astra VXR, Honda Civic Type R, Mini Cooper S John Cooper Works

There was only one disappointing thing about my test of the Volkswagen Golf GTI in its latest Mark 6 incarnation. Probably as disappointing as Manchester United's recent showing in the Champions League final. Yes, that bad. It squeaked. A little, for sure, but it squeaked. And that is what dominates your mind. Once you know it's there, it's impossible to ignore; never mind the smooth, intelligent eagerness of the dual clutch semi-auto gearbox (six speed manual also available). Never mind the uniquely competent blend of practicality and performance that has always been the Golf GTI's accomplishment (though some generations were better than others). Never mind the style (though I happen to think the Mark 5 was prettier and more distinctive, especially at the back).

Transport yourself into the mind of one who has succumbed to the "must-have" emotions a GTI induces. You've worked hard for your new GTI. You can't just send the £24,305 bill to the taxpayer, as one of our venal MPs might opt to. Delighted with your new purchase, you would shove your six favourite CDs into the dash- mounted entertainment system (or an iPod, if you're up with all that). Six CDs for the six moods the GTI will habitually induce in its owner: aggressive; serene; snobby-elitist; defiantly middle-class, fun-loving and proud.

For town, you might select a soothing Beethoven piano sonata performed by Vladimir Ashkenazy, something that will reconcile you to the vulgarities and harshness of the world outside. That's serenity. For the open road, you need the soundtrack to Saturday Night Fever. That's funky-fun. And try the 11-minute version of "Disco Inferno" by The Trammps when you're banging your way up the A13 – a track that also reminds me of a fictional fire safety officer from Bolton named Keith Lard, one of Peter Kay's finest creations, but you get the idea.

Anyway, I also spent some time in the GTI with the stereo off. That meant the GTI's magnificently grunty exhaust tone is audible (if suppressed), but my Golf also whimpered when I was pottering around the pot-holed roads of central London. I could hardly believe my ears. Predictable as it may be, I have to say that this really isn't what you'd expect in a car costing almost as much as the average MP's bill from John Lewis. I just wonder how many trips to the dealer it would take to get it fixed. You might just develop a seventh GTI-inspired emotion: squeak rage.

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