Golf estate vs rivals

VW’s latest Golf is one of our favourite family hatches. But can the estate version dominate in the same way? We find out as it meets its key rivals from Skoda, Renault and Peugeot.

Golf estate vs rivals

If you thought that the latest generation of MPVs had sounded the death knell for traditional estates, think again. Family load carriers have evolved into attractive and desirable cars that are as good to drive as they are spacious.

The latest addition to the fray is the Volkswagen Golf. The hatchback version of the MkVI is our current family class leader, thanks to its quality interior, polished driving dynamics and premium image. The latest estate version aims to build on this by adding an extra dash of practicality to the VW’s broad range of talents.

However, the newcomer will need to be good, because it faces some stiff competition. Leading the way is the stylish Renault Mégane Sport Tourer. With a huge load space and sporty looks, it promises to appeal to the head as much as the heart. Alongside it, the roomy Skoda Octavia estate has always impressed as a family holdall. We test it here in top-of-the-range Laurin & Klement trim, which adds generous standard equipment to the car’s proven VW mechanicals.

The Golf’s toughest rival is set to be the Peugeot 308 SW. Not only does it feature a large load bay, but it’s also available with a versatile seven-seat layout. So, which one of our quartet of contenders wins the space race?

The contenders Renault Mégane Sport Tourer dCi TomTom Price: £20,440 Engine: 1.9-litre 4cyl, 128bhp 0-60mph: 10.6 seconds AE economy: 42.3mpg Claimed CO2: 134g/km Why? With its design flair and safety reputation, the Renault should appeal to head and heart

Peugeot 308 SW SE Price: £21,825 Engine: 2.0-litre 4cyl, 136bhp 0-60mph: 10.3 seconds AE economy: 36.4mpg Claimed CO2: 155g/km Why? One of our favourite family estates, thanks to its adaptable interior, smooth engine and huge load space.

Skoda Octavia TDI PD Laurin & Klement Price: £21,835 Engine: 2.0-litre 4cyl, 138bhp 0-60mph: 9.6 seconds AE economy: 35.3mpg Claimed CO2: 145g/km Why? Comfortable, spacious, refined – the top-spec Octavia is a lot of car for the money.

Volkswagen Golf Sportline 2.0 TDI Price: £21,075 Engine: 2.0-litre 4cyl, 138bhp 0-60mph: 10.3 seconds Economy: 44.2mpg Claimed CO2: 132g/km Why? Hatch is one of sector’s best all-rounders; new estate adds practicality to the mix.

Verdict

There’s no denying that an estate car should be practical above all else. But to succeed in this test, it needs to blend that quality with desirability, low running costs and decent driving dynamics.

On paper, the Peugeot 308 SW appears to cover all the bases. With its large load area, seven-seat option and composed chassis, it makes an extremely strong case for itself. However, it fails to offer the quality, economy or residual performance of its rivals.

Another model which didn’t match expectations was the Skoda. The basic package delivers plenty of space, and the quality is great. Yet it’s let down by an engine that is thirstier than its rivals’, while the Laurin & Klement version is expensive. Lower-spec models make more financial sense.

That leaves the Renault and the Golf fighting it out for top honours. The stylish Mégane is a real head-turner, has a bigger boot and costs over £600 less than the German car. However, the VW has the best economy, highest residuals and lowest emissions, plus a solid-gold image. For all-round appeal and depth of ability, the Golf is hard to beat. It takes the win.

Results: 1st Volkswagen Golf A superb all-round prospect. Fine economy, refinement, residuals, handling, quality and costs make the Golf an impressive package. Only boot space could be better.

2nd Renault Megane If rakish looks are your priority, the Sport Tourer is a good choice. But it’s not all style and no substance, thanks to a spacious boot, flexible cabin and great-value price.

3rd Skoda Octavia Had it featured the same engine as the VW, the Skoda could have finished higher. It’s still a great estate, though, scoring on load space, kit, driver appeal and value.

4th Peugeot 308 SW It's the most versatile model on test. But with the least efficient engine, disappointing economy and lacklustre quality, the SW is beaten by its impressive rivals.

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