Volkswagen Golf Estate

Most practical version of family favourite will present a stiff challenge to the class leaders

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.0 out of 5

Following hot on the heels of the new five-door hatch and SUV-inspired Plus, this is the third, most workmanlike member of the fast-growing Golf family. Yet despite its straightforward layout, it delivers everything that makes the other two so desirable, and builds on that with a real measure of practicality.

Volkswagen’s newest model is looking to put the boot into rivals in the compact load carrier market. Adding a dash of style to this competitive yet relatively small sector, the MkVI Golf Estate also promises to bring the standard hatch’s impressive refinement and fine road manners to the table, too.

Although it is based on the same chassis as its predecessor, the MkV Golf Estate, virtually every element of the car’s body has been redesigned. The new headlamps are the same as those fitted to the standard MkVI, while the tailgate gets fresh lights and a smoother design.

Inside, cabin materials have been given the same upmarket treatment as in the hatch, and the soft-touch dash covering is highlighted with brushed aluminium-effect panels. Ergonomically, the cockpit is first-rate. The thin-rimmed steering wheel offers plenty of adjustment, and the supportive seats feel firm yet comfortable.

With the newcomer measuring 4,534mm in length, 1,781mm wide and 1,504mm tall, there’s plenty of space for rear-seat passengers, while practicality is superb thanks to a 505-litre boot that will provide up to 1,495 litres of stowage space if the back bench is folded flat.

We drove the 1.6-litre TDI turbodiesel model, which has 103bhp and 250Nm of torque, and is also available in economical BlueMotion trim. The four-cylinder 1,598cc powerplant is a little noisy at start-up, but it quickly settles into a smooth idle. Fitted with a seven-speed automatic transmission, the car will sprint from 0-62mph in 11.9 seconds and is capable of returning up to 58mpg.

But as impressive as all this is, it’s the way the Golf rides and drives that really makes a mark. From behind the wheel you would be hard-pressed to tell that you are driving the estate variant, rather than the sweet-handling hatchback. Refinement is impressive. There’s no noise from the large luggage bay as there is in some rivals, and the ride is comfortable even on rough roads.

The steering is accurate, too, and the car light on its toes. We would like a little more feel from the major controls, but in this sector – which places practicality above performance – this is not a significant complaint.

While prices are still to be announced, it’s predicted that the Golf will offer reasonable value for money, costing around £18,000. Strong residuals, plus low running costs – particularly for the 1.6-litre diesel BlueMotion – should help offset this further still.

For those motorists who are looking for a fuss-free yet extremely practical model in which to spend time, the Golf has ‘loads’ to recommend.

Rival: Ford Focus Estate Competitively priced and good to drive, the blue oval’s Focus Estate is the current class champion. It has a wide engine range, plus a versatile cabin and impressive road manners.

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