In the wee small hours, when the fire’s burned as low as the whisky bottle, most motoring journalists will admit that there aren’t many questions about cars to which the answer isn’t “Golf”. Through eight generations since 1974, Volkswagen’s flagship family hatchback has delivered class-leading transport to the masses, been Europe’s bestselling car by a country mile and won the Car of the Year award twice, in 1992 and 2013. Yet all this might be about to change.

In gesture if not actual statements, VW points to its ID.3 electric car (EV) being the next generation of Golf which, in theory, implies it will imperiously sweep all before it in this year’s Car of the Year voting. As ever, the reality is more complicated.

Not least because it’s up against the sensationally able Land Rover Defender 4×4, but can you really reward a car that few will ever discover the worth of? Then there’s the latest Toyota Yaris, which is as competent and well-built as its predecessors, but with much-improved handling. 

The latest Skoda Octavia is, in the opinion of the Telegraph’s motoring desk, a better Golf. Does that guarantee it the top spot? The next-generation, battery-electric only Fiat 500 is, by any measure, a bold step that deserves reward. 

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