The Volkswagen Golf GTI Mk I has been declared the greatest car of all time by experts at Auto Express, the UK’s best-selling motoring weekly. The original hot hatch saw off stiff competition, such as the BMC Mini and Land Rover Series 1, to take the prestigious title.

The Golf GTI led the 12-page ‘The Dream Team’ special in Auto Express, in the ‘Top 5 Greatest Cars’ category, though Volkswagen also performed well elsewhere. The Volkswagen Beetle was the No.1 ‘Best Loved Car’, the Wolfsburg plant was ‘Top Factory’, while the exceptionally economical ‘1-litre’ car of 2002, was one of the ‘Most Memorable Concepts’.

Auto Express editor-in-chief David Johns said: ‘The Golf GTI is an icon. It was the first-ever fast hatchback and spawned a whole new breed of enthusiasts’ cars – without it, there would never have been a hot hatch.’

The original 1976 Golf GTI was created by a group of enthusiastic factory engineers as an ‘after-hours’ project, but its potential soon became apparent and it was put into limited production. Initially modest sales expectations were quickly shattered as enthusiasts throughout the world helped create the GTI phenomenon.

At the Paris Motor Show next month, the fifth generation Golf GTI is unveiled, and promises to return the original hot hatch to the top of the class. Featuring a turbocharged 200 PS 2.0-litre FSI petrol engine, sophisticated multi-link rear suspension and looks to match its performance, the new Golf GTI promises to attract a new generation of hot hatch fans.

The new model goes on sale in the UK in January 2005. Potential customers are able to obtain more information and be one of the first to order the new Golf GTI via a new microsite,

Full details of the Golf GTI’s victory in ‘The Dream Team’ can be found in Auto Express, issue 821, on sale this week.

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