4.3 out of 5 4.3
Parkers overall rating: 4.3 out of 5 4.3

Thoroughly rational, practical family car with an air of quality

Volkswagen Golf Estate (21 on) - rated 4.3 out of 5
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At a glance

New price £25,100 - £31,795
Lease from new From £275 p/m View lease deals
Used price £18,860 - £27,390
Used monthly cost From £471 per month
Fuel Economy 46.3 - 62.8 mpg
Road tax cost £155
Insurance group 14 - 22 How much is it to insure?
New

PROS

  • Sensibly sized for British roads and towns
  • Premium feel and many clever details
  • Diverse range of engines and trims
  • Uncompromised practicality

CONS

  • Appreciably more expensive than rivals
  • Tech overkill, touch-controls are annoying
  • Some trim is not family-friendly
  • Can’t escape engineering shared with cheaper cars

Volkswagen Golf Estate rivals

Written by Richard Kilpatrick on

Is the Volkswagen Golf Estate any good?

You won’t be surprised to learn that in eighth generation form, the Volkswagen Golf Estate is a thoroughly polished car and it’s somewhat better than good. However, it’s not a car that achieves greatness, because it is far from unique. The core engineering is shared across many cars from the wider group of brands owned by Volkswagen – from Audi to Skoda – and each one is micro-managed to the finest points to appeal to different audiences.

As both the progenitor of VW’s modern-family car approach, and the ‘widest appeal’ marque, the Golf thus ends up being something of a personality-free zone. There’s none of the zest of the Leon Estate, nor the superior arrogance of the A3 Sportback, or the reserved pragmatism of the Skoda Octavia, even though the best qualities of all three are wrapped up in one package.

So yes - it’s very good, and of high quality. But it’s just a touch anonymous.

In isolation, though, it’s rather impressive against the likes of the Mercedes-Benz CLA Shooting Brake, Ford Focus Estate and Hyundai i30 Tourer. A safe, advanced choice that won’t let you down or lose much money when it's time to trade in.

Whether it wins your heart, however, is another matter.

What’s it like inside?

Blurring the lines between VW Group’s brands, the Golf has taken some of the ‘high tech’ thunder from Audi and swapped to futuristic touch controls throughout. It’s not just the gadgetry, depending on trim level there are luxury touches that set the Golf ahead of many premium marques – albeit at the cost of family resilience.

Take, for example, the velvety-soft fabric lined door pockets on some models – they dampen rattles and feel much nicer than sharp edged unfinished plastic, but you wouldn’t want to clean it up after leaving some forgotten sweets in there on a hot day.

Everything is put together to a very high standard, with excellent fit and finish and no in-car rattles even with the large panoramic sunroof. Materials and appearance vary with specification, but all models get some version of two-screen cockpit; this is where the polish starts to wear off as the infotainment system can be laggy, the touch heater controls are hard to use by, well, touch, and after a while you just wish it had been designed with more focus on usability rather than looking good.

None of it is a showstopper though and you’ll adapt, it’s just there’s a lot of progress for the sake of it in a car that is supposed to be a familiar family friend.

Practicality and luggage space

With big windows, a long, flat roofline, and a large, flat-sided boot the Volkswagen Golf Estate is the perfect shape for carrying people and stuff; there’s little attempt to make it ‘sporty’ or fashionable, and that’s the way we like it. The tailgate extends low down with a wide, unimpeded opening and there’s an impressive amount of width available relative to the car’s size. Because the Golf Estate is still a relatively small car it’s got a short load area that is easily extended by folding the seats – and it has the useful feature of Isofix points on the front seat so you can fetch large items and take your infant with you.

Front seat comfort is the same as a normal Golf. In the rear seats the more upright roof and windows mean visibility is better, and Volkswagen’s thoughtful touches extend to not one, but three pockets on the seat backs on some models – with smartphone-sized slots further up the back of the front seat.

Fabric interiors retain that VW trick of making your back feel a bit hot after a while behind the wheel, but as many models come with air conditioning or climate control as standard, that isn’t as uncomfortable as it used to be. Ride depends on engine and spec – but every Golf is a strong performer here.

What’s it like to drive?

We tested the Volkswagen Golf 150 TDI Style, a mid-range model with torquey diesel engine and DSG automatic gearbox. VW’s diesel offers impressive refinement and more than adequate performance, as well as near 60mpg real-world economy.

Despite a wealth of driver assistants on offer, the Golf’s unobtrusive, driver-friendly setup means you can enjoy the car’s precise steering and neat handling. Yet it’s easy to let the tech take over in more tedious situations, which it does very effectively.

Nothing is outstanding on this spec, given the price – it’s just very, very good, intuitive, and predictable. As the Golf Estate is also available in very basic, luxurious, all-wheel drive and soon, high-performance R models as well, you should be able to find the experience you want; crucially they all have the same impressive, no-nonsense practicality that you want an estate for in the first place.

What models and trims are available?

As the best of Volkswagen Group, the Golf Estate offers, well, the best of VW’s engine selection. Everything from a 110hp 1.0-litre petrol to the storming Volkswagen Golf R will be available eventually – the latter offering all-wheel drive and 320hp when it arrives, depending on spec. This will be a truly fast load-lugger with only the smallest of external clues to tell other drivers what it is. Until the R arrives, the 200hp Alltrack provides grip and torque.

At present the hybrid Golf – the GTE – is not available in estate form, and for this generation there’s no e-Golf as the VW ID.3 fulfils that role, so there's unlikely to be a plug-in Golf Estate.

However, there is a slightly higher ground clearance, all-wheel drive Golf Alltrack, which is only available with 200hp diesel power and DSG automatic gearbox.

On other models, you can opt for a manual gearbox or VW’s proven DSG automatic, and there’s a comprehensive set of driver assistance available if desired. In short, the Volkswagen Golf may be a byword for the essentials of family motoring, but it can be lavishly equipped.

What else should I know?

One thing the Golf Estate has going against it is cost. No VW Golf is ‘cheap’, but even so you’ll find you pay a hefty premium for a normal spec of Golf against strong rivals such as the Ford Focus Estate, Kia Ceed and of course, the in-house rivals of the Skoda Octavia and SEAT Leon estates.

However, the Golf feels more like a premium product – in places it feels more upmarket and higher quality than more obvious posh brands such as Mercedes-Benz and even some Audis. A little bit of that is in soft, short-lived things like soft-trimmed door bins – but it implies a longer-lasting, more robust car overall.

On the other hand, if longevity is important to you other manufacturers are now offering warranties that make VW look decidedly stingy. With that in mind, read on to find out if we think the Volkswagen Golf Estate is worth buying.

Click to find out whether we think the Volkswagen Golf Estate is worth going for...

Volkswagen Golf Estate rivals

Other Volkswagen Golf models: