If you were to compare this particular Golf Estate to a curry (not a particularly likely comparison, but bear with me here), it’d have to be a chicken korma. It’s a safe, inoffensive bet that doesn’t really have anything inherently wrong with it. However, next to the likes of, say, a vindaloo - which is obviously the curry world’s equivalent of the Golf R Estate - it’s a bit, well, plain. Dull, even.
But that’s okay - a Golf without a GTI or R badge was never really going to be the sort of car that tugs at your heartstrings, or fill you with a desire to get behind the wheel at every possible opportunity. To criticise the Golf Estate for its lack of character would be a touch unfair.
And anyway, the fact that it’s not particularly exciting doesn’t make it a bad car by default; there’s still plenty to like about the Golf Estate. The 1.5-litre EVO engine accelerates smoothly, and is quiet and refined at cruising speed. Its 148lb ft of torque is available from 1400rpm, although it’s at its most responsive from about 3000rpm. Coupled with Volkswagen’s six-speed manual transmission - which is positive and direct in its action - it makes for a car doesn’t require a great deal of effort at all to drive smoothly both in town and out on the motorway. We managed to average about 50mpg with it, too, so it’s not too far off VW’s claimed 57.6mpg economy figure either.
Forward and rearward visibility are excellent, while plenty of adjustability in the seat and steering column (it’ll accommodate changes in both rake and reach) make finding a comfortable driving position a doddle. There’s little to complain about in terms of rear leg or headroom - even with the £995 optional panoramic sunroof fitted to our test car - and there’s no real boot lip to speak of.
The cabin is a touch drab, but well screwed together and controls for the air conditioning and infotainment systems are sensibly laid out. Speaking of infotainment, this particular car made use of Volkswagen’s 8.0in Discover Navigation system, which is one of the best on the market owing to its graphics, responsiveness and ease of use. The £495 Active Info Display is a nice touch, too, replacing the traditional analogue instrument binnacle with a 12.3in high-resolution display. This can be customised to show a range of different information, including the sat nav map.
The Golf Estate generally rides well, with only sudden ruts or particularly poorly-surfaced roads causing it to jitter about. Body roll is well contained through bends and there’s plenty of front end grip, although steering that’s largely devoid of feel might dissuade you from properly pressing on when on a challenging section of road. Sport mode weights the rack up nicely, as it errs towards being a bit too light in the default driving mode.