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What Car? says

3 out of 5 stars

For Solidly built; excellent image

Against Doesn’t handle very well; only average boot space

Verdict A competent, reliable and safe estate

Go for… 1.9 TDI SE

Avoid… 1.4 S

Volkswagen Golf Estate
  • 1. Timing belts need to be changed every 70,000 miles - ensure it's been done
  • 2. Engine oil needs to be changed regularly - if there's no full service history, walk away
  • 3. Boot space is not exceptional, but it's at least reasonable
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Volkswagen Golf Estate full review with expert trade views

The Golf Estate’s boot space is reasonable rather than exceptional. It’s easy to extend it further by lowering the split rear seats, but it won’t take all the clutter that fits into rivals like the Ford Focus. The Focus also offers more head- and legroom for rear seat passengers.

Up front, though, there are no such complaints. Build quality is excellent - at least on this generation of Golf, the VW’s classy interior still leads the way. The Golf driver gets a good deal, too, thanks to big, comfortable, easy-to-adjust seats and steering that adjusts for both rake and reach.

As a long-distance cruiser, the Golf is right in its element and it rides well on the motorway. It’s not so impressive on country roads, where there’s too much bounce and body roll, but things improve with a little weight on board - no bad thing in an estate.

Finally, safety is good, with a four-star Euro NCAP rating and decent security.

Trade view

Martin Keighley

Quite rare used, as it's much more expensive than Focus or Astra. 1.9 diesel is best

Martin Keighley
Valuations expert,
What Car? Used Car Price Guide

Unless you intend to haul nothing heavier than the weekly shopping and exist largely on a diet of lettuce, then the weedy 74bhp 1.4 petrol and 67bhp 1.9 SDI diesel should be avoided, particularly in entry-level E trim.

Bigger petrols include a 2.0-litre unit, 1.8-litre turbos and a 2.3-litre V5. However, the best engine in the Golf estate isn't petrol-powered. Instead, go for the 130bhp TDI PD diesel, introduced in June 2001.

In general, you're best off going for as late a model as possible. At the end of 2001, VW improved the ride and handling, while spec and trim were improved in May 2002: S models ditched their electric sunroof in favour of air-con, for example.

Overall, our favourite spec is SE, which features alloys, a trip computer and cruise control.

Trade view

James Ruppert

Slow demand means it's behind hatches price-wise, so good value

James Ruppert
Used car guru

Tracking down a good example may a take a little while, as the Golf estate never got close to matching the hatchback in terms of popularity. For that reason, it can be cheaper to buy than the hatch, but it will still be more expensive than a Ford Focus or Vauxhall Astra estate.

Service intervals are every 12 months or 10,000 miles, which is par for the course, but you may well find the work more expensive. At a VW dealer, you’ll find that their hourly rates are slightly above the class average. Independent experts are a little more expensive than their Ford counterparts, too.

At least robust security helps keep the Golf’s insurance costs down. Only the 1.8 turbo and 2.3 V5 could be classified as expensive, attracting group 14 and 15 ratings.

The V5 will also make you suffer at fuel pumps, as it returns only 27mpg in auto guise. The most economical model in the range is the 56mpg 110bhp TDI; the 130bhp version still offers a very respectable 51mpg.

Trade view

Martin Keighley

Quite rare used, as it's much more expensive than Focus or Astra. 1.9 diesel is best

Martin Keighley
Valuations expert,
What Car? Used Car Price Guide

The biggest expense you are likely to face is if the timing belt goes on the 1.8-litre petrol engine. It needs to be changed every 70,000 miles; otherwise you risk replacing the entire engine. The ignition coil on this engine is also prone to failure.

The diesels aren’t fault-free, either. Sticking turbochargers can result in a loss of power, while faulty ECUs can cause similar problems, plus a drop in fuel economy. These engines really need clean oil to function properly, so if you see clouds of black smoke, or the owner can’t quite put their finger on that full service history, walk away.

Clutches and manual gearboxes can give problems, too, so check both out thoroughly on your test drive. Finally, check online at www.vosa.gov.uk for recall information - estate cars built in May and June 2000 had a child seat security issue.

Trade view

James Ruppert

Slow demand means it's behind hatches price-wise, so good value

James Ruppert
Used car guru
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