Road Test: Volkswagen Golf R Estate

  • VW adds a bigger boot to its Golf R with £33,585 Golf R estate model
  • DSG-only, the four-wheel drive load-lugger accelerates from 0-62mph in 5.1 seconds
  • Remains immense fun to drive, but practical too thanks to 605-litre bootspace

If you’re unaware of the plaudits laden onto the new VW Golf R hatchback, then we’ll replace your rock and let you get on with it. In short it’s been welcomed with critical acclaim from all corners, and now a more-practical estate version has joined the ranks.

The basic make-up remains the same. Which is a good thing, as under the sharply-nosed bonnet is the familiar 2-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine from the hatch.

Developed from the Golf GTI, it has a bigger turbocharger and modified internals, upping power from 228bhp to 296bhp instead. Torque takes a slight hike from 350Nm to 380Nm, the four-wheel drive system allowing a sprint from 0-62mph in just 5.1 seconds.

There’s even a race mode with launch control to optimise the power, gearbox and traction control responses for the fastest leap off the line.

And by god does it feel fast. With a meaty bark to its exhaust, and induction note filtered through to the cabin, there’s few four-cylinders that sound quite so purposeful – emphasising the performance on offer. The six-speed DSG gearbox (the only transmission option in the R estate here in the UK) swaps ratios quickly and efficiently; we just wish the steering wheel-mounted paddles offered a more defined action.

That’s a minor foible easy to forget, as the R estate will do corners too, the fifth-generation Haldex 4Motion four-wheel drive system apportioning power to the wheels that have the most grip.

By slowing the inside front wheel, and pushing torque to the outer tyre, the XDS+ electronic front differential tracks the R tight into a corner, and proves exacting and precise on the road. It’ll repeat the same on circuit, after repeated laps and tyre punishment, clipping apexes with ease. And no matter how hard you grab its scruff, the R proves utterly confidence inspiring – especially with the Electronic Stability Control system in halfway-house Sport mode, allowing just a shade of hooliganism before intervening.

Don’t mess around with the Driving Profile Selector too much though – the R works perfectly fine with its suspension left in comfort, and the Sport steering is heavy without any added feel or feedback. Manual operation of the gearbox is preferable for any spirited drives anyway.

And if spirited drives are more likely your raison de’tre then don’t bother with the leather upholstery either. It looks good, and the seats are comfortable and supportive, but the increased friction from the standard cloth and Alcantara mix hug you even harder at speed.

For those less interested with the car’s performance against the clock, and concerned more with how the Golf R estate fares down the local DIY store it’s more good news. Like the regular wagons, the R will happily be loaded to the gunnels too – 605 litres with the seats in place, and 1,620 litres when collapsed flat.

There’s the usual 60/40 split fold, remote levers for doing so and an assortment of bag hooks and storage spots behind the wheelwells in the well-trimmed bootspace. The Octavia vRS is slightly larger, but it’s no where near as fast – and nor is it available with four-wheel drive.

Plus the cabin of this R estate is far superior in quality – like any Golf the materials specified for seats, dashboard, switchgear and instruments appear a cut above the crowd. Only Audi’s A3 can rival it in the sector. And thanks to impressive sound deadening, and those adaptive dampers, the Golf R is quiet, refined and comfortable when sitting at its cruising speed.

Should I buy one?

If you’re just in this solely for the hot-hatch thrills then save yourself £695 (or more with the manual car) and stick with the similarly DSG-equipped five-door Golf R hatchback instead. But if you do need the added flexibility the estate provides, then don’t for one moment hesitate, as the VW Golf R Estate is more than its equal on the move.  

Click here for the updated UK road test of the Golf R estate.