The best hot hatch Golf is the original
If you haven't WATCHED THE LATEST EPISODE (CLICK HERE) then you'd have seen Marty and MOOG debate whether MOOG's top-of-the-line all-wheel-drive Mk8 Golf R is the best way to VAG, or if Marty gamed the system with his front-drive Mk7 GTI. While both cars are nice, sensible daily drivers which go quick, they're both wrong about them being the best Golf GTI.
Launched back in 1975 the original Mk1 Golf GTI still ranks as the best, even though it is nowhere near as safe, practical or reliable as the modern-era variants. But it brought pure, undistilled driving joy to an era where most new cars were getting saggy and bloated.
With only 810kg to haul around it doesn't matter the OG GTI only has 110hp from a naturally aspirated 1.6-litre four-cylinder under its short bonnet. The lack of luxury features keeps the weight down and the fun factor up, as you get to concentrate on light, direct steering and nimble ride qualities that have been dulled in newer, heavier and more refined generations.
The cabin doesn't have CarPlay or touch-screens, but everything you need for a fun drive is present, including the cool accessory gauges and dimpled "golf ball" shift-knob. The seats aren't race-ready but they offer far more bolstering than other cars of the era, and look awesome too.
A large part of the original GTI's appeal was not just its performance; it was still a practical Volkswagen capable of driving smoothly to work and carrying passengers in comfort (for the day). Other performance cars of the era were cramped two-door coupes with limited practicality, and many of them were nowhere near as fun to drive.
The GTI wasn't even meant to be a model in the Golf range until a couple of VW employees developed the performance variant in secret (you can READ MORE ABOUT THAT HERE). While VW initially only greenlit building 5000 GTIs back in the 1970s, as of 2020 more than 2 million Golf GTIs have been built!
Ultimately, the Mk1 GTI isn't as good a car as Marty and MOOG's late-model Golfs, but it has charm and pedigree the late model cars can only want for. While the Mini Cooper S was the first small performance FWD, the Golf GTI ushered in the hot hatch era. The Mk1 GTI is a history-making car, and while that doesn't make it faster or physically better in any way, it does make it cooler (especially slammed on rad wheels!).