The Mark 1 version of the car, first launched in 1975, topped a poll compiled by Auto Express magazine.
The GTi was produced by Volkswagen engineers in their own time and nearly seven million GTi models have since been registered.
Second to the GTi in the all-time favourite list was the original 1959 Mini, which became the first "classless car".
Third was the Datsun 240Z which helped the Japanese conquer the American market. Fourth was the Japanese roadster the Mazda MX-5, with the offroad Land Rover Defender fifth.
The magazine also produced its bottom five, with the Austin Allegro coming last, having had rear windows that fell out and a square steering wheel.
1. VW Golf GTi Mk1
2. BMC Mini
3. Datsun 240Z
4. Mazda MX-5
5. Land Rover Defender
1. Austin Allegro
2. Morris Ital
3. Jaguar XJ6 Series 2
4. FSO Polonez
5. Ford Edsel