Most of us have to compromise on the choice of car we drive. We wish it were a Rolls-Royce, but instead end up with a Renault; or a Pulsar instead of a Porsche.

But it’s hard to think of a car that bridges the gap between desire and reality better than the Volkswagen Golf GTi.

It’s a car for the times, a practical, economical, safe family hatchback and a rousing sports machine all in one.

Volkswagen has just added the latest GTi variant to its Golf Mk7 range, which went on sale earlier this year. The common-or-garden Golfs are good enough to currently hold the crown as World Car of the Year, which should mean the GTi-with-everything is a real cracker.

A one-day trip between Launceston and Hobart via the Tasmanian east coast provided the chance to discover the GTi’s abilities. Winding through an impossibly green landscape to Scottsdale, then coastal St Helens and down the coast to Swansea and Bicheno past turquoise sea and white beaches, the route is as beautiful and enjoyable for the driver as any in Australia.

The GTi Mk7 sets off with several upgrades over its predecessor. Engine power has gone up from 155 kiloWatts to 162kW and torque from 280 Newtonmetres to 350Nm.

Yet fuel consumption of the 2.0 turbo engine has dropped to a very respectable 6.2 litres per 100kms in the six-speed manual version, thanks to features like automatic engine idle-stop/start, brake energy re-generation and a function that disengages the DSG automatic transmission to allow true free-wheel coasting.

The steering is now a progressive-rate type, requiring just two turns lock-to-lock, instead of three.

Other new goodies include adaptive chassis control – sharpening up accelerator and shock absorber response and the intervention level of the stability control – navigation, reversing camera, front and rear sensors, bigger wheels, driver-fatigue protection and multi-collision braking.

The changes add $1000 to the old price, but with all that extra gear it’s surprising the ticket isn’t higher.

I like that the Golf GTi is loaded with really modern technology for cleaner, safer driving and that it’s a versatile hatch for so many potential users.

Even better is the way it accelerates, stops and tackles corners, accompanied by an engine note that leaves no doubt you’re in a true sports machine.