I am building a SharePoint 2010 intranet which needs a completely custom, responsive home page and sections (landing page and sub pages) for each of the departments in the organisation. The pages will be managed by a couple of authors and read-only for the rest, is using a publishing site the best option here?
It is really tough to say which would be best option for your case. If publishing sites fulfills your needs you should go for this only. Otherwise can can enable publishing feature on other templates also.
You can check the best practices as defined by Microsoft: