Practical and as good to drive as the hatch; shame the designers had an off day.

What is it?

These days, many estate cars are little more than fashion accessories, sacrificing practicality at the altar of style. Volkswagen’s new Golf Estate bucks this trend.

What's it like?

It will never be described as a stunner, because the completely redesigned rump doesn’t really fit with its heavily chromed Jetta nose. Each is fine in isolation, but there’s a sense of cut ’n’ shut as you walk the length of the car.

Fortunately the Golf compensates by offering 505 litres of space behind the rear seats (a 155-litre increase over the hatch) and 1550 litres if you fold the pews flat. That’s big, if not top of the class. The main luggage area can also be divided into two sections using the folding load floor: handy when transporting fragile items.

Further forward, the interior is much like any other Golf’s, with clear controls and a solid build. Volkswagen has managed to retain the fine body control and enjoyable drive of the hatch too, so you soon forget that you’re driving a wagon.

Three engines will be offered when the Estate goes on sale this August: a 101bhp 1.6-litre petrol, a 138bhp 2.0-litre diesel and Volkswagen’s predicted best-seller, the 1.9 TDI. This ageing 104bhp unit averages 54.3mpg and provides decent low- and mid-range muscle, but it sounds coarse.

The 2.0-litre unit isn’t the quietest of diesels either, but its six-speed gearbox (the other engines make do with five-speeders) keeps the revs down when cruising and there’s a significant increase in punch and performance. If you want to make swift progress in a fully loaded car, this is the model to choose.

By contrast, the 1.6-litre petrol will probably struggle to haul the Golf Estate even when it’s unladen. Volkswagen reckons it should help to attract company drivers, but the hatchback’s 114bhp 1.6 FSI engine actually offers lower emissions.

Should I buy one?

If you want a compact yet roomy and classy estate. Prices are expected to start at around £14,300 for a 1.6 in entry S spec, and the diesels are expected to carry a premium of just £100 over the equivalent five-door hatch.

Matt Prior

Matt Prior
Title: Editor-at-large

Matt is Autocar’s lead features writer and presenter, is the main face of Autocar’s YouTube channel, presents the My Week In Cars podcast and has written his weekly column, Tester’s Notes, since 2013.

Matt is an automotive engineer who has been writing and talking about cars since 1997. He joined Autocar in 2005 as deputy road test editor, prior to which he was road test editor and world rally editor for Channel 4’s automotive website, 4Car. 

Into all things engineering and automotive from any era, Matt is as comfortable regularly contributing to sibling titles Move Electric and Classic & Sports Car as he is writing for Autocar. He has a racing licence, and some malfunctioning classic cars and motorbikes. 

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