18: VW Mk3 Golf VR6
Honda gets the credit for creating the hot hatch craze with the CRX, but the Golf VR6 took it to the next level. What happens when you take Audi engineering and cram it into a compact package? Well, you get the Golf VR6, a unique blend of performance and handling. Volkswagen knows how to market a compact, and the Golf has a lot going for it (via Which Car).
The MK3 is sort of the forgotten generation of the Golf. This was during the time when Volkswagen was in deep financial trouble. The brand had to rebound somehow, and that rebound would happen later on with the New Beetle. But in the meantime, the Golf VR6 was a welcomed addition to the lineup, and it offered a lot.