Volkswagen Golf Estate

The Volkswagen Golf estate is something of a quintessential all-rounder that fits many holes. But unlike some of its contemporaries that attempt to squeeze square pegs into round holes, this estate from VW actually slots square pegs into square holes pretty damn seamlessly so you get everything you want out of an estate – and then some. It’s got a much bigger boot than its predecessor and is great for families who need more space.

It does, of course, have some quality rivals in this sector too – the Ford Focus estate and the Vauxhall Astra Sports Tourer estate spring to mind – and each car has something to offer buyers that separates it from the rest. But while these rivals certainly fare well, the Golf merges practicality with quality in such a way that it’s well worth a test drive all of its own. OSV takes a closer look with our Volkswagen Golf estate review.

VW Golf Estates

Overview Of The Volkswagen Golf Estate

On The Road

The first generation Golf estate was not much fun to drive, but thankfully VW have made amends this time around. The steering is now nimble and light, which makes it perfect for getting out and about in the city, but it’s also got enough weight behind it so that it never feels too sensitive when you put your foot down and pick up speed.

The structure is really strong, which ensures that handling always feels on point. The suspension setup, meanwhile, is among the best in its class and stops even our most knackered roads from disturbing your enjoyment and comfort behind the wheel. Body control is excellent and keeps the car planted through tight corners, while body lean is scant.

Handling is not the best, though, and does let this car down a little bit. Compared to the Focus, the Golf estate still has some catching up to do – but it’s getting there.

You can arm your car with adaptive dampers if you’re willing to part with a bit more cash. If you do, you get access to 3 driving modes:

  • Comfort
  • Normal
  • Sport

Sport offers firmer suspension that means you get to have a bit more entertainment on winding country roads.

VW Golf Estate

In terms of engines, the baseline 1.2-litre petrol should probably be overlooked if you want a bit of space and energy. Taking a sluggish 12.6 seconds to get from rest to 62mph, the power plant feels hungover even on a good day and delivers absolutely no bite when you’re out on the open road. It’s also worth bearing in mind that this is a heavy car, and as such it requires an engine that can deliver power, something which the 1.2 just can’t do.

The zippier, meatier 1.0-litre TSI Blue Motion is the pick of the petrols; it sprints from 0 – 62mph in 9.7 seconds and comes with a performative DSG automatic transmission.

The diesels are your best bet, though. They have better fuel economy numbers, and they offer better performance on any kind of terrain and in any kind of situation, from tight morning commutes in the city to cruises on the motorway. And although the 1.6-litre 104bhp diesel takes over 10 seconds to get from 0-62mph, it does feel quicker. You can also load the estate to maximum capacity and still drag excellent performance out of this willing unit.

The GTD diesel engine is your choice if you want speed; taking just 7.9 seconds to cover the 0-62mph sprint, it’s the quickest in the range and has a top speed of 143mph.

Interior, Design And Build

VW Golf Estate 4

This car’s predecessor had a top quality dashboard that was super popular with both buyers and journalists, and the design team have made it even better this time around. The introduction of the 5.8” touchscreen means you get an even more user-friendly dash that eliminates the need for too many buttons, freshens things up and simplifies the way you control secondary systems, like the stereo. The buttons are slick, sparse and come with a tasteful damped operation.

The cabin is overall smart and benefits from a big budget. There is literally no signs of miserly cost cutting anywhere, which puts this interior above its rivals. Insulation is great, with wind and road noise seeping in very rarely. Engine thrum has also been minimised.

The boot offers 225-litres more space than the VW Golf hatch, but less space than some of its rivals. It opens really wide, though, which means you can easily load bigger items without any hassle. If you fold the seats, you can extend the space to 1,620-litres. Practicality is overall very good; the car is bigger than its predecessor, which means 3 adults can sit in comfort in the rear while there are plenty of storage spaces dotted around the place including 2 cup holders and a cubby holder underneath the central armrest.

VW Golf Estate Review

Equipment

Standard equipment is very good across the range of models. Opt for the baseline variant and you’ll still get the highly coveted 5.8” touchscreen, air-conditioning, a DAB radio and cruise control.

Choose the SE model, though, and you’ll get access to this car’s best features including 16” alloys, automatic windscreen wipers, automatic headlights and active cruise control. The range-topping GTD model, meanwhile, throws in 18” alloys, tinted windows and sat-nav.

Costs Of The Volkswagen Golf Estate

VW Golf Estate

Prices for the new Golf Estate start out from just shy of £19,000 and rise to just over £30,000. If you prefer to lease the car over a period of 3 years, you’ll be looking at paying somewhere in the region of £250 – £300 + VAT. The exact amount you’ll be forking out will depend on trim level, specs and anticipated mileage.

Running costs are respectable across the range. Whichever variant you choose, you’ll benefit from stop-start technology that helps to keep costs down, and each unit returns over 50mpg. The pick of the petrols is the 1.0-litre BlueMotion, which returns an impressive 65.7mpg and is free from road tax. The diesels fair even better, with the 1.6-litre 104bhp engine returning 72.4mpg.

Insurance costs, meanwhile, are competitive, though the 3 year/60,000-mile warranty looks unimpressive when compared to the 7-year/100,000 mile warranty offered with the rival Kia Cee’d.

Pros and Cons of the Volkswagen Golf Estate

Pros:

  • Improved Practicality

The new Golf estate is a lot bigger than the Golf hatch – it’s 307mm lengthier. It’s also 28mm lengthier than its direct predecessor. This ensures more space and comfort inside, both for front seat passengers and rear seat occupants.

The boot space is not the biggest in its class, but the differences are marginal; the Golf estate’s boot offers 605-litres worth of space, while the rival Octavia offers just 5-litres more. Not really a deal breaker. The boot floor is adjustable, which enhances practicality and versatility, while the rear seats are easy to put down to extend space.

  • Top Quality Interior

One of the reasons why you might overlook this estate in favour of the hatch is that hatches tend to be better looking and adorned in more quality. But VW have hatched all their eggs at the same time here, and have spent a lot of money on giving this estate a top quality, premium feel indoors.

The rear end is no longer awkward, entrance is easy, and the cabin is flawless. Everything looks and feels as though it was composed of classy, upmarket materials, while the dash is as user-friendly as they come.

  • Safety Systems Are More Than Just A Bonus

If you opt for the base-level S model, you will miss out on some of the safety features that make this estate stand out from the competition. You will still get some safety features, but the useful active safety ones will be missing.

That said, the rest of the lineup shares the same active safety features that you’ll find in the hatch. Buyers of any trim get automatic post-crash braking systems, while the GT and SE throw in city emergency braking and front assist. You’ll also get radar-guided cruise control, which adjusts your speed automatically so that you never get too close to the vehicle directly ahead of you.

Cons:

  • Entry Level S Model Is Too Basic – And The Other Trims Are Expensive

The entry level S-model costs around £19,000 yet lacks some of the safety equipment and standard kit that you would expect to be treated to for that kind of money. The BlueMotion trims are also really basic, which could be a sore point for some buyers.

Meanwhile, the further up the range you go, the more eye-catching the prices become: This is not a cheap car by any means, and is arguably more expensive than some of its rivals. The range topper will set you back over £31,000, which is more than you would have to fork out for a Skoda Octavia estate.

To get the best value for your money, we recommend the SE trim level; equipment levels are good, and the price is not crippling.

  • Not The Best To Drive In Its Sector

It almost hurts to lump this car’s handling in the “cons” section because it isn’t that bad at all – but it isn’t the best in its class, and that might be the rub for some people.

This is very much an estate that drives like a good estate, unlike some of its estate rivals which have improved handling so much that they now drive like actual sports cars. If that’s what you’re looking for, you might want to take your cash elsewhere.

  • Touchscreen System Can Be A Distraction

Can a sleek, user-friendly 5.8” touchscreen really be a con? Well, yes. It’s so tempting to use frequently, that it can be something of a distraction when you’re out on the road.

VW Golf Estate

Volkswagen Golf Estate vs. Ford Focus Estate vs. Vauxhall Astra Sports Tourer

When you’re looking to buying an Estate, space and practicality are key – but so are figures. Let’s take a look at how the Golf Estate measures up against its nearest rivals.

Volkswagen Golf Estate vs. Ford Focus Estate

Ford’s are notoriously fun to drive and are often the best handlers in their class. It might be stretching things to say that the Focus Estate is the out-and-out best handler in the compact estate sector, but it can offer more entertainment than the Golf. With that said, the VW is not far behind; it’s got a smooth suspension setup of its own and will be able to offer most buyers satisfaction behind the wheel.

But if an Estate has to perform well anywhere it’s in the practicality stakes – and the Focus falls short in this particular battle.

Ford Focus Estate driving on road

Whereas the Golf Estate can boast 605-litres worth of boot space, the Focus can only offer 476, making it one of the smallest in its class. Meanwhile, the driver and their passenger will be comfortable enough upfront in the Focus, but rear seat occupants will be more starved of space.

The Focus looks good, and arguably has a slicker style than the Golf, but has it got the numbers? You bet it has. The Golf’s cheapest to run engine is good for 72.4mpg, while the Focus’ can return 74.3mpg from its poky 1.5-litre TDCi unit that comes in either 94bhp or 118bhp guise. Opt for the more powerful of the two and you’ll benefit from a relaxed driving experience.

Volkswagen Golf Estate vs. Vauxhall Astra Sports Tourer

Vauxhall Astra Sport Tourer

The Vauxhall Astra Sports Tourer is one of the most well-rounded family cars in this sector, but is it just a jack of all trades and master of none?

The Vauxhall is priced in the same region as the VW; though at just £16,500, its entry-level variant is cheaper. The VW and the Ford both return good fuel economy numbers that make them attractive investments, but the Vauxhall kicks them both into touch with returns of 76mpg from its powerful 1.6-litre diesel unit. If fuel economy matters a heap to you, this is a very good selling point.

VW Golf Estate

There is a caveat, though: The diesels – though cheaper to run – are less refined than the petrols, and in terms of oversell driver enjoyment, the VW probably edges it.

Practicality is something of a niggling issue with the Astra Sports Tourer; it’s big enough, but its 500-litre boot is way short of the one found in the Golf. Space isn’t too bad for occupants up front and in the rear, but most of its rivals – including the Golf – have more space for their backseat passengers, as well as better rear visibility. However, the rear seats do at least fold all the way down, which is something a lot of its rivals can’t offer.

The car is plagued with some of the problems that the 5 and 3-door hatch has wrestled with over the years. A busy centre console and weak second-hand values are among them, but the car does at least look as handsome as they come.

Verdict Of The Volkswagen Golf Estate

Buying an Estate on the strength of its practicality and low running costs is not boring – it’s simply sensible behaviour. Although the Golf Estate is overshadowed ever so slightly by more austere and handsome looking cars in this sector, it ticks pretty much every other box, with the only downside being that relatively high asking price.

That said, the car feels as upmarket as its price tag suggests, and it would be hard for even the most critical of buyers to feel cheated.

The Volkswagen Golf Estate, though expensive, is a fantastic family estate car, that’s well worth a test drive.

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