Volkswagen Golf Estate Review
The Volkswagen Golf Estate is a spacious family car that is well made and very sensible. Its main rivals are the Ford Focus Estate, Vauxhall Astra Sports Tourer and the Peugeot 308 SW. A more up-market rival is the Audi A3 Sportback.
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The Volkswagen Golf Estate interior is its biggest selling point – it’s made from expensive-feeling soft-touch plastics and feels built to last. The car is also hugely practical – there is space for four to travel in comfort, the boot is huge and there are numerous storage areas dotted around the cabin.
Being the best to drive was never a target for the Golf Estate – for that buy a Focus Estate. Instead, the Golf focusses on providing a safe and predictable driving experience giving the driver confidence. The automatic gearbox is one of the best in the class.
There is a huge range of engines for the Volkswagen Golf Estate and there is one for any buyer’s needs. If it’s economy you want go for the 1.6-litre diesel, or if you’re looking for performance there is the 305hp Golf R Estate. The best choice, however, is the 2.0-litre middle-of-the-line diesel that’s not only frugal but also plenty powerful.
All models are generously appointed with standard equipment including a 6.5-inch infotainment, DAB digital radio, air conditioning and Bluetooth phone connection.
Good to drive, practical estate car that doesn't compromise comfort, either
In general, the Volkswagen Golf Estate is one of the best mid-size estates on sale. Whilst there are cheaper rivals, few come close to the all round ability and sense of quality the Volkswagen offers.
It’s very close to the hatchback in terms of handling, so you can still enjoy the sweet balance between ride and handling without having to compromise space or practicality. Choose the right engine and you won’t be spending a lot on fuel bills, either.
The VW Golf Estate’s biggest problem comes from within its own ranks – it’s called the Skoda Octavia Estate. What the Golf has over the Octavia in class, the Skoda more than makes up for with more space and a cheaper asking price.
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The Volkswagen Golf Estate has plenty of room inside for passengers and the boot is a very decent size, although it’s not the very biggest
Given the amount of space and practicality on offer in the Golf Estate - not to mention the quality and user-friendly features - there's only one way to describe it: a class act
There’s plenty of space whichever seat you sit in, with lots of head and legroom. The seats are comfortable and supportive and the standard cloth upholstery looks smart. Mid-range models and up also get a small lever on the side of the driver’s seat which adds even more adjustments to the, arguably, near-perfect driving position.
There are loads of storage areas dotted around the cabin that only increase the practicality of the VW Golf Estate. A litre bottle fits in each of the door pockets and there’s space left for keys and the like. And whatever you put in there won’t rattle because the door pockets are lined with felt.
People buy estates for their boot space, and the Volkswagen Golf Estate excels in this key area. Its load capacity is 605 litres (1,620 with the rear seats folded down) and it’s larger than almost all rivals of a similar price range – although the Skoda Octavia estate (610 litres) and Peugeot 308 SW (660 litres) boots are even bigger. Not only is the load bay large, but it has a wide opening and a low load lip so even big objects are easy to load.
The VW Golf Estate’s ride quality is excellent, and the suspension soaks up bumps in the road with ease.
All engines are smooth but the 1.6-litre diesel is quite vocal
There’s a huge choice of engines and, to be honest, all of them are great at what they do. New for the 2017 model is a 1.5-litre petrol that takes the place of the outgoing 1.4-litre.
These advanced new EVO engines benefit not only from cylinder-on-demand technology but automatic models also have an advanced coasting function, which decouples the engine from the gearbox where possible to save fuel. VW claims it can improve fuel economy by up to 8mpg bringing the quoted average for the 148hp model to 58mpg and 61mpg for the 128hp version.
However, if you’re looking for impressive fuel consumption, the two diesels are the ones to go for. The cheaper of the pair is a 1.6-litre that should have no problems moving the Volkswagen Golf Estate around, though it won’t feel spritely when the car’s fully loaded. If you believe VW’s figures it can return fuel economy of 74mpg.
The other diesel in the range is arguably all you’ll ever need in a VW Golf Estate. It produces 148hp, but the meaty torque available from very low in the rev range is what wins you over. It isn’t fast but it’s not slow either, cracking 0-62mph in a smidge under nine seconds. Quoted fuel economy sits at 67mpg and it’s easy to average around 55mpg in the real world.
There’s another, more powerful, version of that 2.0-litre that packs 184hp. It is only available in the hot GTD Estate model which also benefits from more aggressive styling, stronger brakes and bigger wheels. It’s a step below the full-blown 305hp Golf R Estate and provides most of the visual updates over a standard Golf that the R gets while the quoted fuel economy figure of 61mpg is decent enough for the performance on offer.
Models with 125hp and upwards get a sophisticated rear suspension system that deals with the UK’s bumpy roads more successfully than the basic setup and also makes the Golf feel more surefooted in corners.
Despite some added weight, the Volkswagen Golf Estate is identical to drive to the hatchback. You can opt for ACC (Adaptive Chassis Control), which lets you set the firmness of the suspension settings – our advice, unless you’re going to drive flat-out everywhere, is not to bother, especially because it’s an £800 option.
It’s definitely not the most fun to drive among its rivals, however the Volkswagen Golf Estate does a really good job at everything else. Out on the motorway, it’s hushed and only if you turn off the radio you can hear a faint wind whistle coming from the side mirrors. Whereas in town, the light steering makes short work of low-speed manoeuvres.
Interior quality is one of the VW Golf Estate’s biggest selling points – giving premium quality at a mainstream price.