The Golf is a cornerstone of the Volkswagen range and offers a large number of variants to suit all buyers. The Estate version brings increased practicality to the range and puts the Golf in contention for a number of buyers who need the increased space.
An expert in producing sensible family cars, Volkswagen has little opportunity to rest on its laurels as opposition manufacturers continue to turn out forward thinking and highly likeable cars in the ultra-competitive C-segment. The Golf has consistently been one of the top contenders in this arena for more than three decades and Volkswagen clearly has no intention of letting that change over the coming years.
Part of that aim is fulfilled by having numerous variants on the Golf theme and, alongside the Golf Plus, the Estate is a key player in snaring as many buyers as possible. The Estate has all the major improvements shown in the hatchback model but with greater emphasis on practicality to suit a demanding buyer demographic.
A small increase in length over the hatchback gives the large boot area and near-vertical tailgate without harming interior space for passengers. The exterior changes are blended seamlessly into the existing Golf shape and it remains a tidily-styled and attractive car. The SE enjoys the luxury of alloy wheels to smarten the design still further.
The Estate gets most of the ultra frugal line-up of engines, including the impressive TSI unit. Available in two different outputs it maximises fuel efficiency, squeezing extremely impressive performance and economy from a small unit. More traditional are the 1.6-litre petrol and 2.0-litre diesel units - again both are finely tuned to provide economy without sacrificing performance.
Our verdict on the Volkswagen Golf Estate 2.0TDI SE
Anyone choosing the Golf Estate will be satisfied as it meets all the expectations anyone could reasonably have. Alongside the usual Golf qualities of sound design, high quality, refinement and driving enjoyment comes an extra and significant amount of space and practicality. With the right engine choice the Golf Estate makes for an excellent load carrier.
With impressive economy from the entire range of engines the Golf represents a cost effective car to run. Insurance groupings are low thanks to good security and safety measures. The arrival of the Bluemotion version will see potential savings increase further, too. Although very reasonably priced in standard form, adding some of the impressive but expensive options can soon see asking prices escalate.
Space and practicality
The Golf Estate has a useful extra dose of practicality over the regular Golf, with good levels of head, leg and elbowroom for front and rear passengers. There are also useful storage areas throughout the cabin, and thoughtful touches like a bottle opener and lined coin tray add to the convenience. The boot itself is large and well shaped, with lashing eyes to secure large loads.
Controls and display
The Golf is very obviously a Volkswagen group product and the new interior bears all the traditional hallmarks. That said, the dials have been repositioned and made clearer with permanent white backlighting and other improvements include the relocation of the steering wheel adjustment lever and electric window switches - tilted towards the occupants and made easier to reach. Central controls are neatly packaged, with a minimalist approach that works well.
Comfort and refinement was the main focus of the MkVI Golf development programme and big improvements have been made in both areas. Double window seals, improved sound damping including a modified windscreen and better aerodynamics all add up to a vast reduction in road and wind noise. Volkswagen as even gone to the lengths of damping the pedals to limit vibration inside the cabin. Supportive seats and standard semi-auto air-con even in base spec add to the comfort levels.
An immobiliser is standard equipment, as is an automatic speed sensitive door locking system that can be deactivated if required. Naturally, all models feature remote central locking and the lockable glovebox is an additional benefit. The load area can also be shielded from view with the useful cover.
A five-star safety rating comes as no surprise considering the impressive array of standard passive and active safety systems incorporated into the new Golf. A raft of airbags including one for the driver's knee, a whiplash restraint system and seatbelt fastening detection for the rear seats are all included. ABS with brake assist, an advanced ESP system with a differential lock and traction control and automatic hazard light activation ought to prevent many of the systems being tested, however.
A wider chassis gives the Golf a more balanced approach to cornering and, as a result, even the less powerful models can be flung about with ease and confidence. The speed sensitive electric power steering offers excellent feedback and the firm chassis feels responsive and stable. The 1.6-litre engine offers a sensible mix of performance and economy and feels reasonably sprightly, although the turbocharged 1.4-litre unit offers amazing performance from its small capacity. A firm gear change and very sharp brakes take a little getting used to, but the Golf can be as lively or sedate as required and very pleasant to drive.
Family car appeal
An excellent family vehicle, the new Golf will slot into the role with ease. Spacious, practical, safe and easy to drive it's the ideal choice for families of five or less.
First car appeal
The Golf would be an extremely good choice for a first car if it wasn't for the excellent range of even smaller vehicles in the Volkswagen stable. However, if a larger vehicle is required, the Golf's easy nature makes it a sensible choice.
Quality and image
Volkswagen's Golf benefits from one of the finest reputations in the family hatchback market, built on five successful previous generations of the same model. Quality has taken another big stride forward in the MkVI version with refinement and road manners improved over the already impressive MkV. The Golf's popularity means drivers won't particularly stand out from the crowd, but the Golf badge still has cache.
The new Golf is slightly lower than the outgoing model, but not enough to present any real problems in terms of access. Generous doors front and rear present no problems, while the tailgate gives a good opening for easy loading.
Stereo and ICE (In car entertainment)
Standard equipment on the S trim level is a single slot MP3 compatible CD player and four speakers. Sound quality is acceptable if not groundbreaking but there's no iPod input. More powerful systems are available with the higher specifications and the options list includes touchscreen sat-nav, DVD player and multiple device connectivity, along with a rear view camera. Expect to pay for them though.
Colours and trim
Although there are eleven shades to choose from colours choices are limited to variants of silver, grey, black, blue, white and red. Regardless, the model's familiar but distinctive shape looks good in all of them, although it is the solid shades that seem to do it the most justice. Naturally interior trim improves with the selected trim level, but in base S form the Golf still has a quality feel with modern fabrics on the seats and the same soft touch plastics as the rest of the range.
The Golf Estate is no more difficult to park than a regular Golf, with thinner rear pillars than the hatchback. Rear parking sensors are only available as an option however, and are not standard on even the most expensive version.
Steel space saver fitted as standard.
Petrol engine options - 1.2-litre (105bhp); 1.4-litre (120bhp); 1.6-litre (100bhp). Diesel engine options - 1.6-litre (105bhp); 2.0-litre (138bhp). Transmission options: five-speed manual gearbox, six-speed manual gearbox, seven-speed DSG twin clutch automatic gearbox with switchable sequential manual. Trim levels: S, SE, Bluemotion, Sportline.