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First drive: Volkswagen Golf Estate. Image by United Pictures.

First drive: Volkswagen Golf Estate
Can the new practical Golf Estate live up to its illustrious hatchback relative's all-round brilliance?

   



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| First Drive | Amsterdam, The Netherlands | Volkswagen Golf Estate |

Overall rating: 4 4 4 4 4

Mere weeks after rolling the 30 millionth Golf off the production line, Volkswagen's product offensive continues unabated. Softer and less interesting to drive than the Golf hatchback, the estate is nonetheless a likeable family wagon that offers oodles of space with the high class finish we have come to expect from the seventh generation Golf.

Key Facts

Model tested: Volkswagen Golf Estate 2.0 TDI 150 GT
Pricing: 25,855 (Golf Estate prices start at 17,915)
Engine: 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbodiesel
Transmission: front-wheel drive, six-speed DSG automatic
Body style: five-door estate
Rivals: Ford Focus Estate, Skoda Octavia Estate, Toyota Auris Touring Sports
CO2 emissions: 119g/km
Combined economy: 62.8mpg
Top speed: 135mph
0-62mph: 11.9 seconds
Power: 150hp at 3,500- to 4,00rpm
Torque: 320Nm at 1,750- to 3,000rpm

In the Metal: 4 4 4 4 4

One of the criticisms levelled at the previous generation Volkswagen Golf Estate was that it looked 'dumpy'. While the hatchback, in both three- and five-door guises, were handsome machines with classic proportions, the Estate appeared to be an afterthought and so did not truly carry over the lines of the hatch. No such problems here though. Sitting 23mm lower, 18mm wider and 28mm longer than before the switch from hatch to estate has been carried off much better while retaining the stance of the car that has been so fundamental to Wolfsburg's success.

Everything from the B-pillar forward is identical to that of the regular car with the big changes taking place around the C- and D-pillars. Along with a roofline that is 307mm longer than that of the hatch much work has gone into retaining the signature shape of the C-pillar. For the estate the profile has been transferred to the D-pillar with black trim along the other pillars giving the look of a three-window design rather than a four-window layout that usually sets estate models apart. The design team, led by Klaus Bischoff, was apparently happy with the looks of the hatch and wanted to carry that design over to the more practical load lugger, and to our eyes at least it has been a success.

Not that exterior looks are the highest priority for those in the market for an estate model; those buyers need space and the Golf offers ample amounts of it. With the rear seats in place there's a 605-litre load space - 100 litres more than before and dwarfing that offered by the equally new Toyota Auris Touring Sports. This space is accessed through a wide opening rear hatch that is just 630mm above ground level.

Fold the rear seats via a handy in-boot handle and the estate offers up 1,620 litres with a length just short of two metres. This figure is still some way behind the 1,655 litres offered by the Skoda Octavia Estate (despite both featuring the same 'seats-up' capacity), but should you need to carry longer items, and assuming you have an SE model or above, the passenger seat can also be folded flat giving you a total length of 2,671mm.

Save for the boot everything is as you would expect of a Mk7 Golf with a high class interior that (in the right spec) is packed with technology and unerringly refined - once you have one of the larger engines under the bonnet.

Driving it: 4 4 4 4 4

The first thing you notice about the Estate model is that it is a little bit softer than the Golf hatchback, less taut and less willing to be thrown around. This is due to softer springs that lead to a more comfortable ride, but an element of roll - with just two occupants and minimal luggage anyway. Models fitted with the Driving Select Profile do include the option of engaging Sport mode (along with Eco, Normal and Individual) that increases the damping rate to reduce body movement, but it never quite matches its sibling in its directness. This is despite packing the XDS electronic differential for the first time in an estate.

What it loses in handling the estate more than makes up for in comfort; the hatch is not a particularly uncomfortable car but the softer springs endow the estate with a much smoother ride. Over a variety of surfaces, including motorway and cobbles, the Golf estate's ride remained supple, soaking up all but the larger bumps that Amsterdam has to offer.

What you get for your Money: 4 4 4 4 4

Like the hatch the estate will be offered in three trim levels that kick off with 'S'. The entry-level car includes such niceties as Bluetooth, DAB digital radio with 5.8-inch colour touchscreen, iPod connector, seven airbags, XDS electronic differential and an automatic post-collision braking system. SE models gain ADC automatic distance control with Front Assist and City Emergency Braking, 16-inch alloy wheels, rear map-reading lights, automatic lights and wipers, a Driver Alert System, driver profile selection and the Pre-Crash preventive occupant protection system. GT adds 17-inch alloy wheels, sports suspension, 65 per cent tinted rear windows, the Discover navigation system, electrically folding door mirrors and parking sensors, among other items. All UK Golf Estates (except the forthcoming BlueMotion model) will come with a standard space-saver spare tyre.

On the engine front Volkswagen has every eventuality covered, from the 85hp 1.2-litre TSI petrol up to the 150hp 2.0-litre TDI unit tested here.

Worth Noting

While Volkswagen invited us to Amsterdam to drive the Estate and BlueMotion model, the latter of which offers 88.3mpg fuel economy, we will have to wait until later in the year for the two cars to combine in the Estate BlueMotion. Likely to be unveiled at the Frankfurt Motor Show in September the frugal load lugger is only marginally less fuel efficient than the hatch, offering 85.6mpg.

Summary

While the Skoda Octavia Estate beats it for overall space and the Ford Focus Wagon is nicer to drive, the new Volkswagen Golf Estate, much like the hatchback, manages to combine these elements into a car that is as easy to live with as it is to drive. A high quality cabin sets it apart from the competition, but then you do pay for it.


Paul Healy - 2 Jul 2013



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2013 Volkswagen Golf Estate. Image by United Pictures.2013 Volkswagen Golf Estate. Image by United Pictures.2013 Volkswagen Golf Estate. Image by United Pictures.2013 Volkswagen Golf Estate. Image by United Pictures.2013 Volkswagen Golf Estate. Image by United Pictures.

2013 Volkswagen Golf Estate. Image by United Pictures.2013 Volkswagen Golf Estate. Image by United Pictures.2013 Volkswagen Golf Estate. Image by United Pictures.2013 Volkswagen Golf Estate. Image by United Pictures.2013 Volkswagen Golf Estate. Image by United Pictures.



2013 Volkswagen Golf Estate. Image by United Pictures.
 

2013 Volkswagen Golf Estate. Image by United Pictures.
 

2013 Volkswagen Golf Estate. Image by United Pictures.
 

2013 Volkswagen Golf Estate. Image by United Pictures.
 

2013 Volkswagen Golf Estate. Image by United Pictures.
 

2013 Volkswagen Golf Estate. Image by United Pictures.
 

2013 Volkswagen Golf Estate. Image by United Pictures.
 

2013 Volkswagen Golf Estate. Image by United Pictures.
 






 

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