Volkswagen Golf R Estate 2015 review
The ever-impressive VW Golf R super-hatch with a 605-litre boot. What's not to like?
You might have to take a deep breath before forking out more than £30,000 on a ‘mere’ Volkswagen Golf, but if you dare to take the plunge you’ll be rewarded with one of the finest all-rounders currently on the road. It’s fast and fun at one turn, yet peaceful and practical at the next. Refined, comfortable and boasting decent running costs, the Golf R Estate could just be all the high-performance car you’ll ever need.
When VW decided to put the boot into its hottest hatchback, this was the result: the Golf R Estate. Using the same 296bhp 2.0-litre turbo and four-wheel-drive transmission as its five-door brother, the newcomer promises to deliver a winning blend of performance and practicality.
Yet as with the hatch, the R Estate doesn’t shout about its potential. In fact, only the deeper front bumper, subtle side skirts, silver-finish door mirrors and quad exhaust pipes offer any clues. Even the standard 18-inch alloys have a low-key look.
This stealthy approach continues inside, where the biggest changes are the addition of a flat-bottomed steering wheel and distinctive blue needles for the dials. Fit and finish are first-rate, with top-notch materials used throughout. And because this is an estate, there’s also plenty of space.
The Golf’s 605-litre load capacity is no longer class-leading, but it’s well shaped and full of handy storage features. You had better make sure any items are firmly secured, however, because a quick blast off the line in the R will result in spilled shopping and loose luggage.
Unlike with the R hatchback there’s no manual transmission, but the standard-fit six-speed twin-clutch DSG features launch control, meaning the 0-62mph sprint takes only 5.1 seconds. Incredibly, the Golf feels even faster than the figures suggest.
Despite having to lug an extra 79kg over the hatch, it accelerates with real urgency from 2,000rpm, while the gearbox serves up rapid-fire shifts. The R sounds good, too, emitting a deep burble at idle, which turns to a menacing growl as the revs rise.
Head down a twisting back road and you’ll discover that the R is as composed through the corners as it is fast on the straights. There’s bags of grip, rock-solid body control (especially when equipped with our car’s £830 adaptive dampers) and steering that’s direct and meatily weighted.
The confidence-inspiring handling, unbreakable traction and relentless performance mean few cars in its class are as fast from point-to-point – particularly when the weather turns nasty.
Yet it’s the Golf’s ability to combine this driver involvement with exceptional refinement, surprising comfort, decent running costs and effortless usability that marks it out as something special.