Want the badge appeal, cabin quality and refinement of a VW Golf with a dollop more utility? Here’s the new VW Golf Estate, the fifth station wagon version of VW’s seminal family hatchback.
Priced from £17,915 (£765 more than an identically specified three-door hatch Golf), it’s more spacious and much lighter than the old Golf wagon.
Is it the hidden hero of the Golf range? We drove the 1.4TSI petrol and 2.0-litre TDI models to find out.
How much space does the VW Golf Estate give me for an extra £765?
Keep the rear seats up at you’ve 605 litres to play with – 100 litres more than the old Golf Estate. Flip them down (a cinch thanks to a lever in the boot wall) and you unlock the full 1620 litre experience, albeit without a completely flat load floor.
Still, it’s 125 litres more than the outgoing model, the load sill is low, the boot door lightweight and hinged on an aperture that measures 1000mm across. Unless the family pet is a St. Bernard, it’s difficult to make a case for the bigger Passat Estate, which starts at £21,340, and only offers 603/1731 litres of room…
Does all the extra space bloat the new Golf Estate?
Thanks to the modular MQB platform that supports the Golf, Audi A3, Seat Leon and Skoda Octavia, the new Golf Estate is actually 105kg lighter than the outgoing car. So you get more room inside, plus improved economy, agility and load potential load capacity.
Enough bootspace – what’s the big news at the other end, under the bonnet?
Let’s start off the driving impressions with the unfashionably diesel engine. Diesels might be the default choice for a premium estate car, but when the petrol choices are this clever, you really shouldn’t opt straight for the oil burner.
Pick of the petrols is the 1.4 TSI with Active Cylinder Technology (ACT). The 138bhp four-cylinder unit runs on two pots under light load, yet the switchover between firing cycles is imperceptible, whether you’re bumbling around in stop-start city traffic or cruising on the open road. VW claims the technology makes for 58.7mpg (we managed 52mpg, albeit on a motorway-biased test-route) – but there’s still decent on-demand surge for overtaking and load-lugging.
The ACT motor will haul the Golf Estate to 62mph in 8.7sec, and though it’s thrashy at the top end of the rev range, the healthy mid-range pull means there’s no real need to go red-line chasing. The quick-witted seven-speed DSG paddleshift transmission is a compatible ally in this, though the six-speed manual’s still a pleasant change, and a handy £1415 cheaper.
Trouble is, VW knows the 1.4 ACT motor is the one to have, and cynically only offers it on top-spec GT models, which start at a rather hefty £23,935. As you’d expect, there’s a wealth of extra gear standard on GT models, including a 5.8in touchscreen sat-nav infotainment centre, electrically folding mirrors and front and rear parking sensors, offsetting the steep entry fee.
And if I can’t resist buying a diesel?
You won’t be disappointed. You can choose a 1.6-litre TDI with either 89bhp and 104bhp, but we tried the brawnier 2.0-litre diesel, good for 148bhp and 236lb ft, and mated to a six-speed manual as standard (the 1.6 TDI gets a five-speeder).
It’s a familiar engine, offered in all the VW Group MQB platform cars. It has no trouble shifting the Golf along with a typically torquey mid-range, but if anything the motor feels even quieter and more distant than in its cousins. Noise/vibration/harshness, or lack thereof, is one of the Mk7 Golf’s strongest suits, and the estate, despite its potentially echo-prone XXL cabin, doesn’t let the side down. VW claims an economy score of 67.3mpg – just about plausible if you’re mainly on motorways.
Does the Golf estate feel any different to drive?
Compared to the commendable hatchback, the estate’s longer wheelbase does rob it of some chuckability, not that it matters one jot to the potential buyer. Where it might is later in the Golf Estate’s life cycle, as VW is plotting a hot GTD Estate, using the diesel pocket rocket’s 184bhp/258lb ft TDI unit.
At the other end of the ‘benefits of driving a diesel’ scale, a super-frugal 85.6mpg/87g/km Bluemotion Estate will go on sale in the UK in October 2013. Click here for CAR’s review of the new VW Golf Mk7 Bluemotion in hatchback form.
The VW Golf Estate is certainly a car to buy with your head rather than heart – it’s not an emotive device, but when the plus points are so numerous and compelling, there’s no shame in that. It could also cause problems for the supposedly superior Passat: as of now the Golf Estate is the best wagon VW offers, and worth the premium territory asking price.