What is it?
Volkswagen describes this car as the new Golf estate. Except that it isn’t really new at all. Rather, it’s a heavily facelifted version of the fifth-generation model.
It has been restyled, fitted with new interior appointments, given a new range of four-cylinder engines as well as mildly reworked underpinnings – all aimed at enhancing its appeal against a backdrop of increased small estate competition, and an ever expanding group of van-based rivals.
In a move aimed at providing its entire line-up with a more cohesive appearance, the Golf estate is the latest Volkswagen model to adopt the angular front end styling treatment created by chief designer, Walter de Silva.
Among the changes grafted onto the shell of the preceding model are new headlamps and a more heavily contoured bonnet, an edgy looking bumper and lightly altered wings.
It works from direct front on, where the various changes serve to provide Wolfsburg’s smallest load hauler with a fresh look clearly linked to the Golf hatchback.
But with no apparent changes at the rear apart from new tail lamps graphics and deeper colour keyed bumpers, this is a car that looks highly contemporary at one end but rather old fashioned at the other. Unlike other versions of the sixth-generation Golf family, it also retains the old model’s exterior door handles.
Inside, there’s the sixth-generation Golf’s soft-to-touch slush moulded dashboard, reworked instruments and newly arranged switchgear among other neat features, including a high quality three-spoke steering wheel.
Together, they help lift the impression of quality that made the old Golf estate such a success. However, it is still all rather demure and without any great visual appeal. And despite the apparent reworking of the interior, Volkswagen has decided to retain the old model’s front door trims, which now look out of character with the rest of the Golf estate’s interior.
Accommodation remains the same. It is a roomy car, with sufficient space for five adults. The only major criticism being the rear seat, which continues to have a rather flat cushion. It also lacks fore and aft adjustment, something that gives some rival small estates the upper hand in overall versatility.
The boot, on the other hand, is well shaped with a flat floor and only minimal intrusion from the rear suspension. Its nominal 505-litre load capacity betters that of the Renault Megane estate by 25 litres and can be extended to a commodious 1495 litres when the split fold rear seats are folded down.
What’s it like?
The Golf estate can be had with the choice of four new engines. Among them are Volkswagen’s new 105bhp turbocharged 1.2-litre and 122bhp 1.4-litre FSI petrol units. The two common rail diesels, however, will account for the majority of UK sales.
They include Volkswagen’s new 103bhp 1.6-litre and the familiar 138bhp 2.0-litre unit. And despite the on-paper allure of the latter, the former does a highly commendable job of hauling the Golf Variant around. In fact, we wouldn’t be surprised if it became the engine of choice in the years to come.
With 185lb ft of torque at 1500rpm, it mates well with the optional seven speed dual clutch gearbox, providing sufficient if not overwhelming levels of performance along with impressive of refinement and, with a combined cycle average of 58.9mpg, outstanding economy.
The rest of the Golf estate driving experience is unchanged, meaning light controls, failsafe front-wheel drive handling and a cosseting ride.
While it doesn’t dazzle from a driver’s point of view, this new Volkswagen feels solid, competent and reassuring. Qualities most buyers will no doubt be seeking from the Golf estate which - unlike other Golf models, that hail from Wolfsburg in Germany - continues to be assembled at Volkswagen’s sprawling Puebla plant in Mexico.
Should I buy one?
There’s much to be said in times of economic uncertainty for a straightforward, unpretentious car like the Golf estate.
It’s not necessarily the best looking small estate around, but it is nevertheless a well proven package: one that’s high on perceived quality if not outright excitement.
At the time of writing prices haven’t been announced, but don’t expect them to vary too much from the previous model.
If you place versatility and retained value ahead of verve and outright performance, it’s well worth consideration.