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Volkswagen Golf Estate road test report

Volkswagen Golf Estate

Volkswagen has been building estate versions of its Golf hatchback since 1993 and the company has high hopes for this third generation. The Golf Estate is a good alternative for growing families, offering plenty of space and all the usual reasons for buying a Golf from just over £15,000. Launched with three engines – 1.6-litre petrol and 1.9 and 2.0-litre diesel – and three trim levels – S, SE and Sport Wagon – there are enough options for all potential buyers, although VW estimates that most will go for the basic S trim level in combination with the 1.9-litre diesel engine.

Road Test Reports Says4 star rating
A front-facing image of the Volkswagen Golf Estate

Image number 2 of the Volkswagen Golf EstateImage number 3 of the Volkswagen Golf EstateImage number 4 of the Volkswagen Golf Estate

Performance Performance - 4 stars

The Golf Estate comes with three engines, two diesels and a petrol unit. The 1.6-litre petrol engine (100bhp, 109lb-ft) is perfectly competent, as long as you don't expect too much from it: however, in combination with the five-speed manual 'box the noise gets a little wearing when you start driving for any length of time at motorway cruising speeds. Another gear would help. The diesel line-up comprises the 1.9-litre TDI (103bhp and 184lb-ft) and 2.0-litre TDI (138bhp and 236lb-ft) units that have served VW well over the past few years. They're still a little noisy and unrefined compared with some of their competitors, but they pull well and should serve the 80-90% of customers that opt for a diesel in this car. The other new feature is a dual-clutch DSG automatic gearbox, which, in combination with one of the diesel engines, promises to be the best engine/transmission combination.

Ride & Handling Ride & Handling - 4 stars

The Golf Estate, as you'd expect from a variant of the last-generation Mk V, is a confidence-inspiring drive, thanks to direct and accurate steering, and excellent stability, grip and balance. The electric power steering is direct and accurate, with none of the artificially weighted feeling of so many similar systems. It may be a little light for keen drivers, though, without a lot of the feedback they like. The suspension is the usual mix of MacPherson strut at the front and the multi-link rear axle developed for the Mk V Golf, so the ride is comfortable and compliant. The Golf’s ride is a well-known quantity, thanks to the many thousands of cars that have ventured on to British roads, so the Estate version offers no surprises, offering the same level of body control and the ability to soak up bumps, ruts and surface imperfections without getting unsettled.

Build Quality & Reliability Build Quality & Reliability - 4 stars

The Mk 5 Golf, the basis for this car, had been around a few years before the Estate emerged, during which time it established a reliable reputation. There have been one or two minor niggles, but these seem to have been sorted out under warranty and there have been no major complaints. The Golf showed up well in the most recent JD Power customer satisfaction survey, earning 30th place with a rating of 81.7%, while the Golf Plus variant did even better, coming in at 13th with a rating of 83.3%. As a manufacturer, Volkswagen tied for 13th place with a rating of 80.5%. The quality of our test cars met expectations, feeling sturdy and robust on the road. The Golf Estate’s exterior had consistent shutlines across the whole of the car, and the interior was well finished and in keeping with the quality levels of the rest of the range.

Safety & Security Safety & Security - 5 stars

The Golf Estate, as you’d expect, has the usual full range active and passive safety features, including six standard airbags and the option of a further two rear side airbags, Isofix fixing points for child seats, ABS linked to Hydraulic Brake Assist (HBA) and ESP with traction control. In addition to the standard ESP is an integrated trailer stabilisation system if a trailer hitch is specified, a software extension of the ESP that has been designed to avoid having a hard-braking trailer endangering traffic behind. The Mk 5 Golf scored the full five stars in the Euro NCAP crash tests, with three stars for pedestrian safety and four in the child protection test, so the Estate should prove to be a safe family car. In terms of security, central locking and an immobiliser are fitted as standard, with an alarm also standard on all but the base S trim level.

Space & Practicality Space & Practicality - 4 stars

As with the regular Mk 5 Golf, the driving position for the Estate is spot on: comfortable seats, reach- and rake-adjustable steering wheel and a well laid-out dash make driving it easy. There’s 505 litres of loadspace with the seats upright – more than the Focus, Astra and Peugeot 307 – rising to 1,550 litres when the fold-flat rear seats are down: the front passenger seat can also fold forward for long items. Other features include a variable cargo floor, four tie-down eyes on either side of the cargo area, a cargo partition net, bag hooks and an auxiliary 12-volt electrical outlet. Depending on the trim level you choose, standard equipment includes roof rails, a dust and pollen filter, storage pockets on the backs of the front seats, parking assist, storage drawers under the front seats and a 'panorama' sunroof that is split into two, the front section opening fully.

Ownership & Value Ownership & Value - 4 stars

Fuel consumption for the petrol-engined version is 38.2mpg, rising to 54.3mpg for the 1.9 TDI and 51.4mpg for the 2.0 TDI. There’s also a version using VW’s eco Bluemotion technology that returns 61.4mpg. CO2 emissions are 176g/km for the 1.6, placing it in Band E for road tax (£170 per year), while the diesels are both in Band C (£120 per year), emitting 137g/km (1.9) and 143g/km (2.0). The Bluemotion is, despite its lower 122g/km, also in Band C. Insurance groups are 6 for the 1.6 petrol and 1.9 diesel, and 12 for the 2.0-litre diesel. The Golf consistently returns the highest residual values in the class, with second-hand demand being strong – helped by the fact that two-thirds of Estates will be used by fleet owners. Volkswagen also claims reduced repair costs, hence lower insurance, as well as better dealer support to reduce repair and maintenance times.

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