Parkers overall rating: 4 out of 5 4.0

The engines in the Golf Estate range are focused on economy, but fortunately not at the expense of decent performance. There are two petrols - a 1.2 TSI and a 1.4 TSI - but don't be put off by their small size. The TSI badge signifies that they are turbocharged and as a result the 1.2 TSI delivers 105bhp while the 1.4 TSI has 122bhp. Both are enjoyable to drive and impressive considering their small size with good in-gear acceleration.

Fuel economy is a strong point too and the 1.4 TSI averages 45mpg with the manual gearbox or 47mpg when fitted with the optional seven-speed DSG automatic - a twin clutch gearbox that delivers super-fast changes. However, it's the diesels which are more popular in the line-up, starting with the 1.6 TDI. This is available with 90bhp (only in entry level S trim) or there's the more popular 105bhp version which returns an impressive 63mpg yet still offers good pulling power.

This engine is also used in the BlueMotion Technology model which is fitted with an engine stop/start system and has lower CO2 emissions and even better economy of 67mpg. The other diesel is the 2.0 TDI with 140bhp. This is a more advanced TDI (a common rail unit) so it's smoother and quieter than older Volkswagen TDI units. It pulls very strongly, so is ideal if you regularly have a full complement of passengers and luggage to carry, plus will accelerate from 0-62mph in 9.7 seconds.

Economy is impressive too at 57mpg but it's fair to say that Volkswagen Golf Estate performance levels are strong whatever the model.

Despite its extra length, the Golf Estate drives very much like the normal Golf hatchback with the same refined ride, well-weighted steering and precise gear change. On the motorway it's very impressive with very little wind noise, while the responsive handling means it tackles corners with ease and with little body roll. Even with a full load on board, the Golf Estate remains composed and comfortable.

It's good in town too, where excellent all round visibility and a compact size make parking or tight manoeuvres easy.