We’ve yet to drive any petrol versions of the Golf Estate, but with just 104bhp the 1.2 TSI may struggle to cope when the car is heavily laden. The 1.4 TSI is likely to be a better bet for lower mileage drivers, since it’s our favourite engine in hatchback version of the Golf. The 138bhp 2.0-litre diesel is strong and punchy, and we’ll soon be driving the super-economical 1.6-litre diesel.
The Golf estate strikes a fine balance between comfort and control, even though it’s based on the old MKV Golf, rather than the current MK6. You'd never describe the ride as soft, but it minimises the impact of most imperfections in the road surface. This suppleness doesn't come at the expense of a rewarding drive, though - the estate handles tidily and stability is impressive.
The Golf’s hushed cabin makes it an excellent cruiser, with minimal wind, road or engine noise intruding at speed. The 2.0-litre diesel is much quieter than VW diesel engines of old, but it grumbles enough to make itself heard – particularly at low speeds.
The Golf occupies a special place in UK buyers' hearts, and this helps to keep resale values among the highest in this class. All the engines promise good fuel economy, while competitive tax groups make the Golf an attractive company car proposition. Servicing, insurance costs and contract hire rates are respectable, too.
The Golf is about as swanky as small family hatchback-based estates get. Many of the surfaces are soft to the touch, and many of those that aren't are rubberised for a nicer texture. Even tucked-away plastics are fairly good. Volkswagen has a good record in the annual JD Power customer satisfaction survey, but in the 2012 study, owners merely rated it as average for reliability
It's hard to think of a box that the Golf doesn't tick. You get stability control to help you prevent having a crash in the first place, and if you can't avoid it, you have front, side and curtain airbags to keep you safe. Side airbags can also be fitted in the back for a nominal fee. On the security front, an alarm is fitted to SE models (and above).
Drivers of all shapes and sizes can make themselves comfortable in the Golf, thanks to a steering wheel that moves for both reach and rake, and a large amount of seat adjustments on high-end models). The dash is minimalistic, and the little switchgear that is present is well sited. The stereo has chunky buttons, or if you're willing to pay extra, you can have touchscreen controls.
As in the Golf hatch, there's space for two large adults or three children in the back, but a longer rear overhang boosts luggage space from 350 to 505 litres. Fold the rear seats down and capacity rises to a generous 1495 litres. The load space is well shaped, and there’s no big boot lip that you have to haul heavy loads over.
The entry-level S-trim model includes air-conditioning, four electric windows, a CD player and stability control. Step up to SE (our preference) and you’ll get alloys, cruise control, an upgraded stereo and automatic wipers. The top-of-the-range Sportline model adds front fog light and sports seats, with height and lumbar adjustment.
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