ANY family man thinking of buying a Golf GTI or a Focus ST should really take a drive in the Skoda Octavia vRS.
It has to be the most spacious car in the class by a mile, even though its based on the same chassis as the Golf.
It has huge rear legroom and a vast boot, just like all the other Octavias, and boasts no less than 226bhp from its turbocharged 2.0-litre petrol engine.
If that were all, it would already be a force to reckon with, but it also manages the same scintillating road holding and handling as either Golf or Focus, while having a noticeably more comfortable ride.
This is one of the top hot hatches on the market, every bit as well built as those competitors, but with that extra indefinable something that puts it ahead even when it comes to driving.
The engine is smooth and very willing, pulling from low revs all the way to the red line, helped in this car by what I consider to be the best automatic gearbox in the world - the VW group's DSG - which does the changes better than I can do them myself.
It's always in the right gear, and learns the driver's mood so that if you're driving gently, up-changes come sooner, and if driving hard, it holds lower gears longer.
Sadly, this marvellous gearbox is an extra £1,400 over the six-speed manual, and that, like the premium charged by car makers for diesels in this day and age, is way too much.
This latest vRS is also fitted with a new differential lock to help get all the horses down onto the blacktop more easily, and to add grip in the corners.
There are few other cars at the price that offer so much pleasure and so much space in one package.
Very supportive leather seats add to the pleasure of driving and there's a very high level of standard equipment, including 18-inch alloys, xenon headlights which turn with the steering, Bluetooth, dual-zone climate and a touchscreen stereo.