Volkswagen Golf Estate: road test
The Golf Estate. Truly a jack of all trades… and a master of all, too.
What is it?
The updated Golf Estate Mk7 was unveiled in Berlin in November 2016. Check out the new front and rear bumpers, with updated interior trims.
How safe is it?
There’s a range of safety equipment for improved traction and handling, as well as pre- and post-crash systems and curtain airbags front and rear.
Who should buy one?
If you’re a fan of one of the best-rated cars of all time, then the Golf Estate lets you combine great driving dynamics with impressive load carrying.
Road test by James Luckhurst 24 May 2017
DRIVING AND PERFORMANCE
This new Golf Estate is well-mannered, frugal, quiet, practical… and enjoyable to drive. Put simply, it’s a fantastic beast of burden that proved itself a jack of all trades… and master of all, too. Our week in its company allowed us to conclude that it was amazingly cheap to run, very spacious, highly practical and well equipped, too.
Line it up against the Ford Focus Estate, Peugeot 308 SW or Skoda Octavia Estate and you might find more space or a zippier driving experience, but you’d be hard pressed to match the Golf for sheer class.
Before we head off anywhere, the cockpit tour reveals some exciting standard features, including a ‘personalisation profile’ for up to four drivers. If you’re one of these lucky four, you get to assign the preset radio stations of your choice, as well as your default address in the satnav, all thanks to data stored in the key.
One less welcome aspect of the on-board wizardry was the array of ‘green driving’ notifications. One advised me not to disengage the clutch fully unless the rev counter was showing less than 1300. A good tip, no doubt, but since the graduations on the rev counter did not show me 1300, it seemed pointless.
The Golf Estate swallowed up a load of test miles effortlessly, demonstrating trustworthy road-holding, satisfying performance where appropriate from the 2.0-litre TDI 148bhp engine and a highly capable suspension system that gave a ride that was just right.
A journey of several hundred miles from one end of the country to the other allowed us many hours to appreciate the quiet, refined cabin ambience and the precise six-speed gearbox (by the way, if the car thought we were in the wrong gear, it told us so, in an attempt to make the fuel last longer). The Golf was equally at home on twisty country roads where, while responsive and eager, it also never seemed to put a foot wrong. This estate car really was an absolute corker to drive – for so many reasons.
SPACE AND PRACTICALITY
Whichever way you slice it, the Golf Estate cannot fail to impress in terms of the space you get. Tall people will feel entirely comfortable in the front, and generally quite happy in the rear. Even two broad-shouldered people are unlikely to meet in the front seats, where there are also two cup holders and a central armrest with a large (and chilled) cubby hole underneath.
In the back, the GT-spec model offers airline-style seat-back pockets as well as cup holders in the middle armrest.
Continuing the journey rearwards, the lipless 605-litre boot is very big (though the Peugeot 308 SW offers 55 more litres). You can also adjust the floor height of the boot, which means no awkward ridges or changes in height if you choose to drop the rear seats (itself a simple task – just pull the handles located in the boot). Then you’re looking at a seriously impressive 1620-litre capacity.
Standard fit on the Golf Estate are ESC and ASR (traction control), as well as an electronic differential lock for further improved traction. The suite of airbags includes a curtain system for front and rear passengers and a driver’s knee airbag. A preventative occupant protection system minimises injury risk if a crash is inevitable. This works alongside an automatic post-collision braking system.
The entry-level S model includes air-conditioning, electric windows front and rear, 8.0-inch colour touchscreen and Bluetooth connectivity. Upgrade to SE and you’ll get adaptive cruise control and power-folding wing mirrors. GT spec brings 17-inch alloys, driver personalisation, and a three-year subscription to the Car-Net journey information resource. GTD and R models boast a 12.3-inch screen.
VW has reduced prices across the new Golf range by an average of £650. Consider the predicted strong resale values and this car becomes a competitive proposition, even if it does sit at the higher end of its sector. Fuel economy was truly impressive; on our long, steady test we achieved just a little over 60mpg. CO2 emissions of just 111g/km also help keep VED payments to a modest level.
WE SAY The Golf Estate. Truly a jack of all trades… and a master of all, too.
AT A GLANCE:
Performance: 0-62mph in 8.9 seconds
Economy: 65.7mpg combined
Tax: £160 first year, then £140 standard
Figures for GT 2.0-litre TDI 150 PD 6-speed manual