Volkswagen Golf Estate
Price £18,980 - £31,055
- High-quality interior
- Cheap to run
- Not the best in class to drive
- Some rivals are more spacious
At a glance
“The Volkswagen Golf Estate is synonymous with practicality and quality. It’s a little more expensive than some rivals, but it feels worth it.”
As an all-rounder, there's not much out there that can get close to the Volkswagen Golf Estate. Its rivals from within the Volkswagen Group – the Skoda Octavia Estate and the SEAT Leon ST – are both very impressive, but are both slightly different propositions to the VW, despite sharing many of the same mechanical components.
Outside the Volkswagen Group, there's the likes of the Ford Focus Estate, Vauxhall Astra Sports Tourer, Toyota Auris Touring Sports and the Kia Cee’d SW for the Golf Estate to compete against. While it may be outgunned in some areas – the Focus is better to drive and the Skoda is more spacious, the Golf has plenty enough in its armoury to take on its rivals.
One of the first things that strikes you about the Golf is just how high quality everything feels. It may not be one of the most eye-catching cars in the class – the Honda Civic Tourer and Peugeot 308 SW outshine the Golf in that regard – but there's an understated elegance about the way it looks (both inside and out) that you won’t find elsewhere in the class. This is complemented by liberal use of high-quality materials on the inside, which goes someway to justifying the significant premium you have to pay for the Golf over most of its rivals.
In the standard range, there are five trim levels available – S, Bluemotion, SE, SE Bluemotion and GT – as well as special versions like the rugged Alltrack and sporty GTD and R versions. It's the standard model we’re going to concentrate on here, however. All of them come with Bluetooth, DAB digital radio, an eight-speaker stereo and a touchscreen-operated infotainment system.
Our favourite of the range, however, is SE, which adds extras such as alloy wheels, adaptive cruise control, some stylish interior design touches and some extra storage spaces. You also get some extra safety equipment, including a fatigue sensor, which monitors your driving and can tell if you need a break. It's a little disappointing that you have to upgrade to top-spec GT trim in order to get sat-nav as standard, however. All models do come with full smartphone compatibility, so you will be able to use a navigation app on your phone via the car's infotainment screen.
Bluemotion and SE Bluemotion are based on S and SE models and concentrate on fuel-saving additions, including an aerodynamically efficient bodykit, lowered suspension and tyres with lower rolling resistance (to reduce friction between the tyres and the road, improving efficiency) and some weight-saving measures, too.
In terms of the number of engines on offer, there's a huge range to choose from. There are four petrols and three diesels available (not including those available in the Alltrack, GTD and R versions), producing between 84 and 148bhp. Our favourite of the petrols is the 123bhp turbocharged 1.4-litre engine. This offers the best balance between running costs and performance, managing 53.3mpg and CO2 emissions of 123g/km, which results in a £110 annual tax bill.
If you think you’d prefer a diesel, then we’d recommend the 109bhp 1.6-litre engine. With the manual gearbox, this will do 0-62mph in 11.2 seconds and still return nearly 73mpg. CO2 emissions stand at 102g/km, resulting in an annual tax bill of just £20. Combine this engine with SE trim and we think you’ll have the best combination.
Safety is very good, with the car receiving a five-star Euro NCAP rating. As you’d expect there are airbags, anti-lock brakes, traction control and stability control all as standard, plus two ISOFIX child car seat mounting points on the outer two rear seats. There's also a brake pad wear indicator and a tyre pressure warning system.
In terms of owner satisfaction, the Golf Estate is a good prospect. Not only will it retain more of its values than many of its rivals, but it's got a good reputation for build quality too. In our 2015 Driver Power customer satisfaction survey, it came 30th out of 200 overall, but only 75th for reliability. It was better for build quality, however, coming 39th out of the 200 cars in that category.
No model in the Volkswagen Golf Estate range costs the world to run and VW offers an affordable maintenance package
Better to drive than the old model, the Volkswagen Golf Estate comes with a good choice of engines
Optional Dynamic Chassis Control system boosts comfort on all road surfaces, but even basic Volkswagen Golf Estate models are comfortable
The Volkswagen Golf Estate has a bigger and better shaped boot than the hatchback, but some rivals offer even more space
A strong showing in our Driver Power survey shows most owners are happy they chose a Volkswagen Golf Estate