For forty years now, the Volkswagen Golf has essentially been the benchmark by which all other cars in its segment are judged – a marking scheme for hatchbacks. The brands brilliant advert from a few years back even joked about it. “You see, just like a Golf”, exclaimed the smiley little salesman. Now as much as that is a great compliment for any make or model, it carries with it huge added burden. If VW was to lift its finger off the pulse for even just the briefest of moments, it would be be so exaggerated it would appear as if every one of their rivals suddenly bound forward in bold leaps or worse, overtook them.
The task has been made even more difficult because drivers are now demanding so much more than just a really good car – point which VW have emphasised in their most recent radio adverts. Gone are the days when customers just wanted an off the shelf attractive, practical, comfortable, reliable, economical, nice driving car which is reasonably priced and yet will be retain its value for years to come. We want more, we want choice! In the past we were satisfied with a few various segments to browse between, but in 2015 we want our car segments to have variety!
For that very reason, Volkswagen has not just had to produce a great hatchback but has had to produce numerous great variants. There are eco-friendly ones (e-Golf), fast ones (Golf GTi), very fast ones (Golf R), a compact MPV version (Golf SV) and one for everything in between – with a little exception. Which of course is why they’ve have re-introduced the Golf Estate.There have been Golf Estates in the past of course, but the last time it was available was in Mk IV guise back in 2004. It makes perfect sense to reintroduce it now, estate car sales are on the up and the C segment which the Golf proudly sits atop of is growing all the time.
Based on the same MQB platform as the Golf hatch, the Estate is longer, wider and lower. With the rear seats in place, there’s plenty of room for large suitcases or the family dog. And when you fold the seats flat, the Golf Estate is perfect for those trips to Ikea. To put a figure on its capacity, the Golf offers 605 litres of space with the seats up and when they are dropped, capacity increases to 1620 litres. They’re not exactly best in class numbers, but in terms of space, the Golf is a match for the majority of its rivals.
However while space is obviously important to an estate car, it needs to be clever, usable space. In the Golf, the way the rear seats automatically fold flat when you pull handles in the boot adds to the practicality. As does a height-adjustable boot floor; when this is in its higher setting, it’s flush to the boot opening, so you can just slide heavy items in and out. Even the luggage cover is thoughtfully designed. It automatically stops half way when you retract it, instead of sliding all the way to the back of the boot. Making it less likely for you to have to lean against the bodywork and get your clothes dirty when pulling the cover back into place. In the cabin, the Golf Estate is much like the hatch. There’s enough leg and headroom to keep four adults comfortable on almost any journey. Though as is the case for most cars in this segment, life isn’t just as comfortable for a fifth passenger.
At first glance the dashboard and central console can appear a little plain, as is the case across the Golf range. However on closer inspection the cabin of the new estate has been assembled using premium soft touch materials and is extremely user friendly. The displays are clear and the controls are intuitive to use. The entry level Trendline model features a 6.5-inch touch “Composition Media” radio system with CD Player and 8 speakers. Bluetooth is standard and the test car had been fitted with the optional Technology Pack that includes Sat Nav, media inputs, light assist and a rear view camera. The Golf Estate is offered in three trim levels, Trendline, Allstar and Highline.
The test car came equipped with the 110bhp 1.6L TDi and a 5 speed manual gearbox. Alternative options are a 1.2 TSi petrol, or 2.0 litre diesel engines, transmissions vary from 5 and 6 speed manuals to 7 speed DSG automatic. This estate proved not only capable and sufficiently powerful, it also showed itself to be quite frugal. And while I was more than happy with the 1598cc engine, I personally would prefer the 6 speed box, if just for that added comfort and economy on motorway drives. On the road, the Golf Estate showed excellent levels of comfort, grip, balance and control over the course of the test week. Whether near empty or fully laden, the car displayed good surefooted tendencies and handled the job at hand with ease. The Golf’s low-slung driving position is one of the best out there.
The exterior styling of the Golf Estate makes for a really attractive looking car. The larger than standard 17” alloys of the range topping Highline model paired with the silver anodized roof rails give it a sporty look. All the while the overall larger presence of the Estate left many passers-by wondering if it was in fact a Passat. Estates are a difficult car to design. The balance of form and function naturally has to tip in favour of the later, but VW’s designers have retained one of the Golf’s greatest assets. It’s neat trick of looking both classless and classy. Smart yet understated aesthetics. A true ‘peoples car’ but for ‘people’ with good taste.
At this rate the Golf will remain the benchmark for some while yet. The Golf Estate is just another string to its well-tuned bow. It’s a car that will keep some Golf drivers driving Golfs for some time to come, and may just become a cult classic down the road too. All I ask for now is a Golf R Estate…but I’d settle for a GTi version.
Engine: 1.6L TDI
Transmission: 5 Speed Manual
Torque: 250Nm @ 1500 – 3000 RPM
Top Speed: 196 Kmph
0-100Km: 11.0 seconds
C02: 102g per km
Quoted Combined Fuel Economy: 3.9L per 100km
Price: €23,490 – €35,675