Volkswagen Golf Estate review (2013-2020)
"The Volkswagen Golf Estate is a very practical version of the popular hatchback. It’s not the cheapest model in its class, but it’s one of the best"
- High-quality interior
- Very practical
- Cheap to run
- Quite expensive
- Not the best in class to drive
- Some rivals are more spacious
While the Volkswagen Golf hatchback precisely fits the needs of many, there are those who love what the Golf does, but wish it had more space inside. The Volkswagen Golf Estate is the answer, competing against such established rivals as the Skoda Octavia Estate and sportier SEAT Leon ST, both of which it shares mechanical parts with.
It also has to fight for buyers against the Ford Focus Estate and Vauxhall Astra Sports Tourer, as well as the Toyota Corolla Touring Sports and Kia Ceed Sportswagon. All of them have strong points – the Focus Estate is great to drive and the Kia has a seven-year warranty – but none quite match the Golf’s upmarket aura. It's also worth noting that this models being replaced with a new Mk8 Golf Estate, boasting VW's latest technology and engines.
Having received the same 2019 updates as the hatchback, the Golf Estate definitely has the quality to support its desirable image. Everything feels high-quality, from the sound when you close a door to the feel of the climate-control buttons. And while its design might not have the visual flair of the Peugeot 308 SW, the Golf is understated and instantly recognisable, with a hint of athleticism in sportier trim levels.
It’s a little more expensive than some rivals, but the materials and interior design go a long way to explaining its price, with everything pleasing to the touch. There’s plenty of technology, too: every model features an eight-inch colour infotainment screen, Bluetooth and DAB radio, as well as sophisticated safety equipment – reassuring for a car that’s bound to be popular with families.
Trim levels start with the entry-level S, then Match Edition and GT Edition. At the top of the range is the rapid Golf R model, or you can choose the rugged Volkswagen Golf Alltrack with raised ground clearance and four-wheel drive – we’ve reviewed both these models separately.
The S trim isn’t too basic but we think it’s worth plumping for the Match Edition, as it has alloy wheels, adaptive cruise control, automatic LED headlights, sat nav, plus front and rear parking sensors. The range-topping GT Edition version has luxuries like ambient lighting, driving modes, sports seats, online services and some styling upgrades.
Engine choices are plentiful, with three petrols and two diesels versions in the standard range alone. The smallest engine is a 113bhp 1.0-litre petrol, which might be a little underpowered for a car with so much load-lugging potential. The 1.5-litre petrol, with either 128 or 148bhp, will have no trouble coping with a fully laden car and can return 50mpg, while emitting less than 120g/km of CO2. This engine is offered on the Match Edition and GT Edition trim levels, while the 1.0-litre is available on S and Match Edition cars.
Our recommended diesel is the 2.0-litre with 148bhp. Returning an impressive 54.3mpg and emitting as little as 114g/km of CO2, it’s very nearly as efficient as the 113bhp 1.6-litre diesel engine (57.6mpg) but much more powerful. Combined with the Match Edition trim level, this makes for an affordable and well equipped package. An automatic gearbox can be chosen on this engine, while the Alltrack gets a more powerful 181bhp version of the same engine.
The Volkswagen Golf finished 50th out of the top 75 cars ranked in our 2020 Driver Power owner satisfaction survey of cars currently on sale in the UK, as newer cars tend to take the higher places. As you’d expect the Golf has a great reputation for safety and this is proven by its five-star Euro NCAP crash-test rating. All models now benefit from the protection of autonomous emergency braking, bringing the car to a halt safely if an obstacle is sensed in the road.
The Volkswagen Golf Estate may not have the most exciting looks on the market, but it promises to be a great car to live with and the latest round of improvements have made it more appealing than ever.
Which Is Best?
- Name1.0 TSI Life 5dr
- Gearbox typeManual
- Name2.0 TDI Life 5dr
- Gearbox typeManual
- Name2.0 TSI R 4Motion 5dr DSG
- Gearbox typeSemi-auto