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First drive: Volkswagen Golf R Estate. Image by Volkswagen.

First drive: Volkswagen Golf R Estate
Three new Volkswagen Golf Estates have been launched - and the R is the show-stopper.

 



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Volkswagen Golf R Estate

5 5 5 5 5

Everyone has been raving about the Volkswagen Golf R hatchback, one of the finest performance five-doors you could wish to find. Amazingly, in the transition to an estate, the R has lost none of its dazzling ability and is indeed even more desirable because, as a wagon, it hasn't really got any direct competitors - save for the inert Mercedes CLA 45 AMG Shooting Brake. That poor Labrador often mentioned in motoring journalism clichés would be in for one wild ride in the back of the sensational R Estate...

Test Car Specifications

Model tested: Volkswagen Golf R Estate
Pricing: from £33,585
Engine: 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol
Transmission: four-wheel drive, six-speed DSG dual-clutch automatic
Body style: five-door estate
CO2 emissions: 164g/km (VED Band G, £180 per year)
Combined economy: 40.4mpg
Top speed: 155mph (limited)
0-62mph: 5.1 seconds
Power: 300hp from 5,500- to 6,200rpm
Torque: 380Nm from 1,800- to 5,500rpm
Luggage space: 605- to 1,620 litres

What's this?

It's Volkswagen doing the truly decent thing and porting the sublime chassis set-up and drivetrain from the Golf R - one of the greatest hot hatches you could wish to find - into the classy estate body; for fans of rapid wagons like us, this is like a junior RS Audi Avant or BMW M5 Touring, only much more involving than the former and a damn sight cheaper to buy and run than the latter ever was. Very, very little changes in the R's transition into a Golf Estate, beyond the obvious addition of extra metal aft of the C-pillar (bringing with it a 70kg weight penalty) and some mild tweaks to the rear suspension to cope with any extra loads you might wish to shove into its 605-litre boot (rising to a colossal 1,620 litres if you don't want to carry any people in the back seats and thus fold them flat). It has the same specification as the R hatch, the same drivetrain as the R hatch... it basically wants for nothing by being an estate. And all it costs is a mere £695 on top of the five-door, at £33,585 all-in. We'd definitely opt for the R Estate now it has arrived.

How does it drive?

Awesomely, if you can forgive the slightly juvenile terminology. There are just so many things to praise about the R Estate and nothing that stands out as a major flaw. The steering, for instance, is a delight, weighted to near perfection and brimming with feel. The brakes bite cleanly and strongly each and every time you step on them, with none of that grabby, over-servoed nonsense that used to afflict Volkswagen stoppers. The DSG gearbox is superb, crisp on up- and downshifts and responding pretty much instantly to your commands, while the 2.0-litre turbo engine's elastic reach is something to revere. It just pulls and pulls and pulls through all of its six gears, feeling even stronger than its 300hp/380Nm stats suggest it will and overlaying the astonishing acceleration it chucks at its occupants with a fabulous soundtrack. No turbocharged four-cylinder enginehas ever sounded better than the R - and that includes the EJ20 from the old Impreza Turbos.

Yet the jewel in this dynamic crown is the damping, which is simply exquisite. The R keeps total control of its body, never rising up on its springs nor smashing into its bump stops going over and through high-speed yumps and compressions, but even with the Dynamic Chassis Control (DCC) in Race mode, which pumps the variable dampers up to their toughest setting, the ride is stunningly good. On big, sweeping Spanish roads with decent (but not perfect) surfaces, this translates into a car that carries absolutely unbelievable speed across the ground. The driver can just lean on the R's huge repertoire of talents to make mincemeat of corners and devour straights in a few blinks of an eye; if this Golf Estate can do the same on bobbly British tarmac, it will be confirmed as an all-time great.

Even more impressive is that, on the safer confines of the Ascari race track, the R Estate proved to be fluid and throttle-adjustable right up to and beyond the limits of adhesion. With a mobile back end, which transmits its intentions clearly to the driver via the base of the seat, the wagon managed to lap the track in a fashion befitting of dedicated sports coupés of the BMW M4's ilk. That the R is not just devastatingly quick but a complete hoot - both on road and on track - is just the cherry on the cake. You spend a lot of time grinning hugely driving this vehicle. Which, when all's said and done, is simply a Volkswagen Golf Estate. It's a dangerous phrase to use willy-nilly, but this is clearly one of those vehicles that invites that old chestnut: the Golf R Estate is all the car you'd ever need. It is completely and utterly fantastic and, at £33,585, something of a bargain.

Verdict

The Volkswagen Golf, for all its market dominance, has never truly been a hugely exciting car, even in its better incarnations as a GTI - but the current R is brilliant in every respect. Dropping this drivetrain into the Golf Estate is a stroke of genius by Wolfsburg and, if I might be permitted to speak personally for a moment, it is the first time ever that I have truly desired, no, craved a Volkswagen Golf. As fast wagons of any price or era go, the Golf R Estate is up there with the very best of the breed.

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Exterior Design

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Interior Ambience

4 4 4 4 4 Passenger Space

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Luggage Space

4 4 4 4 4 Safety

5 5 5 5 5 Comfort

5 5 5 5 5 Driving Dynamics

5 5 5 5 5 Powertrain


Matt Robinson - 25 Apr 2015









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2015 Volkswagen Golf R Estate. Image by Volkswagen.2015 Volkswagen Golf R Estate. Image by Volkswagen.2015 Volkswagen Golf R Estate. Image by Volkswagen.2015 Volkswagen Golf R Estate. Image by Volkswagen.2015 Volkswagen Golf R Estate. Image by Volkswagen.

2015 Volkswagen Golf R Estate. Image by Volkswagen.2015 Volkswagen Golf R Estate. Image by Volkswagen.2015 Volkswagen Golf R Estate. Image by Volkswagen.2015 Volkswagen Golf R Estate. Image by Volkswagen.2015 Volkswagen Golf R Estate. Image by Volkswagen.



2015 Volkswagen Golf R Estate. Image by Volkswagen.
 

2015 Volkswagen Golf R Estate. Image by Volkswagen.
 

2015 Volkswagen Golf R Estate. Image by Volkswagen.
 

2015 Volkswagen Golf R Estate. Image by Volkswagen.
 

2015 Volkswagen Golf R Estate. Image by Volkswagen.
 

2015 Volkswagen Golf R Estate. Image by Volkswagen.
 

2015 Volkswagen Golf R Estate. Image by Volkswagen.
 

2015 Volkswagen Golf R Estate. Image by Volkswagen.
 






 

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