BOY-racers get a bad name, most of it deserved, admittedly, but they know a good car when they see one. That fact was clear when I pulled into a local supermarket car park.

I'd popped out for some kitchen roll, not very cool I know, but such are the joys of fatherhood.

Already parked were a handful of hot-hatches, all adorned with varying degrees of add-ons.

They had been busy seeing how loud their stereos could go until I cruised in alongside in the daddy of the genre, VW's legendary Golf GTI.

But this was no ordinary Vee Dub, it was the limited edition 30th anniversary model, in striking candy white, with matt black rims and complete with silky smooth six-speed DSG gearbox.

Like bees to a honeypot, the hoodies attention turned to me.

Some pointed, others came over to have a closer look.

Normally, it would have been cause for concern.

This time the only word on their lips was respect.

Trying not to reveal my age, I turned down AC/DC on the stereo and extricated myself carefully so as not to fall buttocks over breast - not as easy it sounds - and strode into the shop feeling ten feet tall.

Not many cars can generate that effect. The GTI can, and this particular model can in spades.

Looks are not everything, I know, but it's not a bad starter for designers seeking to entice someone to part with close to £24,000.

So as well as the striking paint job and the alloys, the car comes with twin exhaust pipes, fat, or should that be phat, tyres, and super bright bi-Xenon headlamps.

The cool cues continue on the inside with the fighter-jet style cockpit layout. In the day it looks great, but at night it really comes alive - the blue lighting on the dials giving off a striking aura.

To the left of the chunky offcircular steering wheel is a fine built-in DVD touch screen satnav system, which comes with a 30-gig hard-drive and enough acronyms to keep even the most techy driver happy.

There's also a six-disc CD autochanger built into the armrest, that alone retails at almost £2,000.

But it's not all show and no go.

With a 0-62mph time of just 6.6 seconds, punch the accelerator too hard and it can feel like you're going to be sucked out the back. It only stops going when you get to 151mph and that's more than enough to scare the bejesus out of all but the most nerveless of thrill-seekers.

That said, you never feel like you're going to end up sucking your food up through a straw if you get a little over-confident.

The one time I pushed too hard on a bend, the ESP kicked in and made sure the hedge and I remained separate entities.

When you've had your fill of fun, the GTI operates perfectly as an everyday town car, returning a more than adequate mpg and having space aplenty for three passengers and all the trappings that come with them, pushchair and all.

At 37, I'm fast running out of street cred.

But like a well-woven hair piece, VW will at least ensure I don't go down without a fight.

Long live the GTI.


Price (as tested: £23,845
Engine: 1984cc
Max power: 227bhp
Max torque: 231lbs/ft
Max speed: 151mph
0-62mph: 6.6secs
Avg fuel consumption: Urban 26.4mpg; extra-urban 45.6; combined 35.8
Equipment (includes): ABS; ESP; airbags; remote central locking; alarm; immobiliser; 18ins alloys; lowered sports suspension; 2Zone electronic climate control.