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Volkswagen Golf Estate 2.0 TDI Sportline

Does family star make as much sense in load carrying form?

There's something about the solidity and no-nonsense nature of the VW Golf that makes it an appealing estate car – although it doesn’t look especially stylish. 

The front end has the same swept-back lights as the hatch, and the extended rear hasn’t spoiled the car’s proportions, but the tail is neither bold nor attractive. The rear lamp clusters look as if they’ve been fitted to the wrong car, and the upright tailgate is uninspiring. There’s no doubt that the Astra and Mégane will draw more admiring glances.

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Interior quality has always been one of the Golf’s biggest strengths, and the estate’s cabin is hard to fault. Its uncluttered design, simple layout and logical controls ensure you feel instantly at home inside. All of the switches are perfectly weighted and the speedo and rev counter are easy to read.

Material quality is first class throughout, and Sportline trim includes a leather steering wheel and matt-textured inserts in the centre console, which complete the premium atmosphere. Settle into the driving seat, and it’s 

easy to find the perfect position, while the carpeted door pockets add a touch of class. Not only are they big, but the soft lining stops the contents from rattling around on the move. 

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The VW isn’t only about quality, though, as it also provides lots of room. With the rear seats in place, passenger space is generous, and the 505-litre boot is the biggest here, albeit only five litres ahead of the Astra. The tailgate lifts to reveal a wide opening and low load lip, and like the Vauxhall, the Golf’s luggage area is beautifully trimmed. It also features a 12v power socket and an array of bag hooks, while the ski hatch in the rear seatback is unique in this test. 

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Where the VW struggles is for ultimate capacity. With the rear chairs folded, its 1,495-litre volume trails the class-leading Renault by 72 litres. Still, the rear seatbases tilt forwards to provide a flat surface and the refinement of the hatch has barely been affected – the Estate recorded the lowest noise figures on test. 

Power comes from VW’s tried-and-tested 2.0 TDI diesel, which produces plenty of shove. It delivers its power in a rush, though, and the Golf can’t match the in-gear pace of the Renault. 

Even so, it was comfortably quicker than the underpowered Astra, and the Golf displays plenty of composure through corners. Weighty steering and decent body control combine with plentiful grip to make the VW reassuring to drive, although it won’t put a smile on your face like the Mégane on twisty roads. 

Sportline models get lower and stiffer sports suspension, which gives a firm edge to the ride. The Golf isn’t as comfortable as lesser variants on rough roads, and things can become a little choppy at low speeds. 

However, the VW makes as much financial sense as ever. It has the best residuals of the three cars here and returned nearly 40mpg on our test. In a sector where sensible is often best, the Golf Estate is a compelling choice.

Details

Chart position: 1
WHY: Golf is high on quality and estate provides decent load space. TDI engine is a strong performer.

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