From £26,9458
Spacious estate costs less than £1500 more than the regular Golf, but broadens its remit considerably

What is it?

The Volkswagen Golf Estate is one of those cars that people forget exists. Only when the R version crops up and brings the almost irresistible reality of an extra-spacious but still manageably sized hatch with 300bhp and four-wheel drive do most remember it.

The larger Passat Estate is much more popular, and while you can find alternatives to the Golf Estate in its own class (Ford, Seat, Skoda and Toyota all make one), premium offerings are non-existent. Audi, BMW and Mercedes don’t bother, possibly in an effort to corral buyers to towards their larger, more expensive models, which do offer estate versions.

So what does the Golf Estate buyer get that the Volkswagen Golf hatchback owner does not? Much more boot space, naturally: 611 litres compared with 380. That beats the Focus (575 litres) and the Corolla (598) but not the Leon (620) or the cavernous Octavia (640), which precisely matches the carrying capacity of the Mercedes E-Class.

Note, however, that the Passat Estate trumps the lot, with 650 litres, even if you go for the plug-in hybrid. 

2 Vw golf estate 2021 uk fd hero side

What's it like?

The Golf Estate also has a height-adjustable boot floor, which can be lined up with the low, fairly flat lip for easy loading, and under that floor you will find extra space in the vacant spare-wheel well.

The rear seatbacks then fold almost perfectly flat via pulls near the tailgate, swelling the cargo bay to more than 1640 litres. You might not need to go that far, though. With the longer rear, the ski hatch means this car could genuinely take a set of Matti Nykänen’s planks (if you could tolerate having their tips hovering over the DSG gear selector).

Elsewhere, it’s standard Golf. The cabin is pleasant, barring the poor touchscreen infotainment system, and the driving experience is inoffensive but some way short of the quietly satisfying feel of the Ford Focus.

Unless you go for the raised-up Alltrack, which also has all-wheel drive, the most powerful engines are the 1.5-litre turbo petrol and 2.0-litre diesel tested here (both make 148bhp).

And if it’s long-distance duties and load carrying you seek, the 60mpg-rated diesel is still the way to go. Diesels might be desperately unfashionable in 2021 but this is an excellent unit: refined, responsive, and, with 266lb ft, easily punchy enough.

Economical, too. Twenty miles at 55mph through the average speed cameras on the M1 returned an indicated 115mpg. Admittedly, relying on the manufacturer's readout isn't the most accurate way to measure fuel economy, but even if the car was overstating reality by an improbable 20%, you'd stick be looking at 90mpg+. 

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One word of warning, though: stick with the regular 17in allow wheels. It may be that the ride settles when the car is loaded up, but on the optional 18in wheels, our test car was little more fidgety than you might expect. 

8 Vw golf estate 2021 uk fd cabin

Should I buy one?

It remains a forgettable car, the Golf Estate, but owners will find it to be a versatile and, in fairness, reasonably luxurious tool. 

3 Vw golf estate 2021 uk fd hero rear


Richard Lane

Richard Lane
Title: Deputy road test editor

Richard joined Autocar in 2017, arriving from Evo magazine, and is typically found either behind a keyboard or steering wheel.

As deputy road test editor he delivers in-depth road tests, performance benchmarking and supercar lap-times, plus feature-length comparison stories between rival cars. He can also be found on Autocar's YouTube channel

Mostly interested in how cars feel on the road – the sensations and emotions they can evoke – Richard drives around 150 newly launched makes and models every year, and focuses mainly on the more driver-orientated products, as is tradition at Autocar. His job is then to put the reader firmly in the driver's seat. 

Away from work, but remaining on the subject of cars, Richard owns an eight-valve Integrale, loves watching sportscar racing, and holds a post-grad in transport engineering. 

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Add a comment…
si73 23 May 2021
I've never really looked at the windows in that way but I see what you mean.
si73 23 May 2021
Sorry, my comment was referencing a typical golf owners comment, I've lost count of how many times I've been asked by golf obsessives that question.
Often it's why did you buy that when you could have had a golf.

Yeah, Clarksons comments on the Vectra were pretty daft but made good television, which is what it was all about

jason_recliner 23 May 2021
@si73 the mighty Vectra! It's nothing special but it's a pretty good car. My favourite thing about it? Clarkson hates them!

As for getting a Golf? Yeah, right. Not even if hell freezes over would VW get one cent of my money!!!