Leigh Robinson gets behind the wheel...

This month Volkswagen is introducing a major update for its most successful model – the Golf.

It has been around for more than 40 years and no other European car has sold better.

By the end of last year, 32,590,025 Golfs had been sold and in effect, therefore, over the last 42 years someone, somewhere in the world, decides to buy a new Golf every 40 seconds.

The only car in the world which has sold more is the Toyota Corolla and that passed the 40 million mark a little while ago.

VWs previous best was the Beetle which topped the 21 million mark and there was one particular motorist in 2003 who topped the one million kilometer on the clock in his first edition Mk 1 Golf.

The most expensive Golf was a Mk V when some enthusiast paid €188,938 for a model which had been once owned by the Pope. Thankfully a more restrained buyer just forked out €10,156 for a Mk II model which had been once owned by the German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Politics or religion you take your choice.

Today the Golf is sold in 155 countries and is manufactured in five factories in Brazil, China, Germany and Mexico and the Golf is the only car in the world which is available with electric, hybrid, petrol, diesel and gas powered engine options.

Lots of families have owned a Golf at some time of their motoring life. I’ve had a couple in the last 10 years but I was never actually able to afford a new one because Golfs have always been that little bit expensive.

Since it first arrived with us in 1974 there have been seven generations with different names including the Rabbit in the United States and the Caribe in Mexico.

The original Golf Mk1 was a front-wheel drive, front-engined replacement for the air-cooled, rear-engined, rear-wheel drive Volkswagen Beetle.

Through the years it has won a host of awards including the World Car of the Year in 2009 and 2013 and the European Car of the Year twice in 1992 and 2013.

The latest model I managed to drive was the Golf GTI which is the original hot hatch and is still on the best and said to be the fastest GTI that’s ever been built. The competitors are still trying to catch up even after 40 years down the line.

The GTI is pretty quick with 0 to 62mph at 6.5 seconds and the top speed is limited at 155mph.

It has an extremely flexible 2.0-litre turbo petrol engine and a grip like a crab in a riptide.

There is a lowered and stiffened suspension, quicker steering, and 217bhp from the engine and there are three versions.

The standard car gets 217bhp and then you can add the Performance Pack, which adds 10bhp, larger brakes and an electronically-controlled limited-slip differential.

The third option is the limited-run GTI Clubsport 40th Edition which has 286bhp, while also improving aerodynamics and performance. The GTI has both three and five-door versions and there is a Golf GTD which a two litre diesel engine which produces 181bhp.

The GTI is a comfortable car and you think you are in comfort mode all the time and you get more than 40 miles to the gallon and for just 139g/kmin emissions.

VW engineers, who have not exactly been the flavour of the month with their emission figures, have brought in emergency city braking technology which means the GTI is now cheaper to insure as well - some five insurance groups lower than the previous model with a group 29 rating.

There are design elements which set the GTI apart from the normal Golf, including a roof spoiler, GTI badging, a bodykit and a sports exhaust. Then there’s a red stripe which runs across the grille and into the headlamps.

This red theme is picked up in the lights and a flat-bottomed, three-spoked GTI steering wheel has red stitching.

The normal aluminium pedals are there and there is a golf-ball-type gearknob.

Standard equipment on the GTI includes DAB radio, Bluetooth connectivity and adaptive cruise control.

The GTI comes as standard with a 6.5-inch touchscreen system with Discover navigation, including 3D mapping and traffic updates.

It also gives you access to Car-Net which streams traffic, fuel prices, parking space availability, weather and news feeds. There’s an optional App-Connect function to allow on-screen mirroring of your smartphone, and you can upgrade to Discover Pro navigation for voice activation and a larger 8-inch screen.

The Golf has a three year warranty offering with a 60,000-mile rating.