What is it?
Almost a year after we first drove the latest Golf R hatchback, the new Golf R Estate has arrived, bringing with it a number of new developments that promise to make it an even faster and yet more rounded car than its predecessor.
The hot Volkswagen estate has always been a favourite. Its combination of performance and practicality has traditionally given it big appeal for those attempting to juggle a wish for real driver enjoyment and a requirement for more than adequate load-carrying ability.
The new model builds on the standard Golf estate in much the same way as the car it replaces, with typically subtle exterior styling changes that mark it out as the flagship of the line-up without going overboard on unnecessary design flourishes
Included is a uniquely styled front bumper with larger air ducts and gloss black elements, an illuminated strip through the grille that acts as a daytime-running light, standard LED headlights, matt chrome-look mirror housings, wider sills, anodised aluminium roof rails and a new rear bumper housing a quartet of chromed tailpipes.
At 4633mm in length, the new model is 71mm longer than before. A good 66mm of this comes from a longer wheelbase, which is stretched to 2686mm.
A further raft of R-specific features help to lift the appeal of the interior, which, despite an overwhelming amount of glossy black plastic, feels agreeably solid in terms of build. There’s a new multifunction steering wheel with a drive mode button, highly supportive front sport seats, brushed aluminium pedals, new trim elements for the sills and dashboard, and unique R-themed graphics for the instrument and infotainment displays.
The longer wheelbase endows the Golf R estate with greater rear-seat space than both its predecessor and the latest Golf R hatchback. An increase in the rear overhang also enables it to offer an impressive 611 litres of luggage space underneath the cargo blind, rising to 1642 litres when the split folding rear seat is stowed.
As with the subtlety evident in the styling, the philosophy behind the powertrain hasn’t changed much, either. The new Golf R estate continues with a turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine. The EA888-designated unit is now in its fifth generation. There are minor tweaks to the combustion process and a reworked exhaust, among other detailed changes. Power climbs by 20bhp to a new peak of 316bhp, while torque increases by 30lb ft to 310lb ft.
It continues to drive all four wheels through a seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox, with R-specific paddle shifters mounted on the steering wheel.
The big news, however, is the appearance of a heavily reworked 4Motion four-wheel drive system. It now features two electronically controlled clutches on the rear axle to provide a more accurate apportioning of drive between the front and rear wheels as well as individual drive to each of the rear wheels as part of a new torque-vectoring function.
Networked to the VDM (vehicle dynamic manager) and XDS (electronic differential locks), it is the same Magna-developed system used by Audi in the new third-generation RS3 as well as by Cupra with the Formentor VZ5 and it endows the Golf R estate with a programmable drift function for the first time since it was introduced to the Volkswagen line-up in 2015.