IT would have been inconceivable a few years ago - a hot hatch without a manual gearbox.
But the current VW Polo GTI, a racy five-door, comes as an auto-only, albeit a swift DSG twin clutch shift.
In fact the Polo, which these days is about the same size as the original Golf GTI, is an amalgam of sports car and all-purpose family hatch complete with creature comforts, refined noise levels and cabin, and enough boot space for the family holiday.
Unlike many of its newer rivals that favour small, electrified engines, the Polo GTI remains faithful to turbo two litre, now pumping out a lusty 202bhp - more than 80bhp more than the original Golf GTI back in the early Eighties, in fact.
In keeping with its big brother, it's well built, conservatively styled, roomy and immensely practical. These admirable qualities make it easy to live with but aren't usually the province of the average hot hatch.
But does it measure up in terms of driver enjoyment? The brief answer is largely Yes, although it's a car we found that grows on you rather than impresses on the first outing.
On the performance front the GTI gives little away to the opposition with a 0 to 62mph time of below seven seconds. The seven speed auto box swaps cogs quickly enough and steering wheel paddles give the driver extra involvement.
No complaints about the roadholding which is tenacious, although steering feedback is muted and the nose is a tad slow to turn in compared with a Cooper S or Fiesta ST. In some ways it feels more mature than rivals, partly due to its and stability and low level of cabin noise.
Ride is better than most with adaptive dampers which allow composure even over poor surfaces. It has the well-settled feel of a larger car.
The cabin is typical VW, ie smart, well made but somewhat souless with the usual touchscreen in the centre of the fascia. The touch-sensitive controls are difficult and fiddly to operate. More switches and controls on the steering wheel spokes.
The GTI has the long-favoured check pattern seating, plenty of bins, pockets and storage places and the boot hold a useful 305 litres of luggage. There's ample room for four and the rear seats are even comfortable for six-footers offering decent head and legroom.
Noise levels when pootling around are pleasantly low even at cruising speed. Toward maximums revs, a throat snarl is emitted reminding you of its hot hatch ambitions.
Drive gently and you'll easily get around 45-47mpg. Allow yourself to be tempted by the performance and you'll see the consumption increase by about 10mpg.