Influential magazine Consumer Reports has picked the Volkswagen Golf (Rabbit) as the winner of its latest group test, rating it the highest in the small four-door hatchback category. Judges picked the Golf over strong competitors such as the Mazda3 and Ford Focus because of its solid feel and "well-finished interior."

Other top contenders beaten by the Golf include Subaru’s Impreza Outback Sport, the Saturn (Opel) Astra, Toyota Matrix, Mini Clubman and the Scion xD. Despite the Golf’s first place positioning, judges also gave the Mazda3, Scion xB, Nissan Versa and the Honda Fit strong recommendations.

Small hatchbacks are becoming popular in America once again due to rising fuel prices and the weak economy, which is causing consumers to search for economically viable personal transportation. The small and fuel-efficient cars are being sought after more than hybrids vehicles chiefly due to the high initial costs of the latter and the similar fuel-efficiency afforded by the former.

Consumer Reports also claim small hatchbacks are "more sensible than similar-sized sedans" as they are easier to load with larger packages and can be used like "miniature SUVs". The full report will be published in the June issue of the magazine.