The range kicks off with an 84bhp three-cylinder 1.0-litre petrol engine. We haven’t tried it yet, but in an estate it’s unlikely to cope well, so think about the more powerful 109bhp 1.0-litre instead. This is more than good enough if you drive mainly in town, and if you do venture onto the odd motorway, it’ll get up to speed and run with the pack well enough, too.
Then again, for more relaxed motorway cruising or better load-lugging capability, you might want to step up to the four-cylinder petrols, starting with the 123bhp 1.4. This offers a bit more mid-range oomph and revs freely. A more powerful 1.5-litre will be joining the range later in 2017, and we’ll let you know what it’s like as soon as it arrives.
An 89bhp 1.6 TDI starts off the diesel range, but like the smallest petrol version we’re yet to try it. It’s unlikely to be any more economical in the real world than the 113bhp 1.6 TDI diesel, so we’d head straight for that instead. This has a useful band of low-end shove so you can make relaxed, if not exactly brisk progress, but if you want something quicker and can stretch to the 148bhp 2.0-litre diesel, then do so – the extra poke is definitely worth the extra cash. A more powerful and noticeably brisker 182bhp version is also available that makes overtaking a breeze, but it’s only in the pricier GTD an Alltrack versions.
Finally, for those of you that aren’t prepared to lose face at the lights en route back from Ikea, there’s the R model. This has 306bhp and four-wheel drive, and really can out-accelerate many proper performance cars.
Volkswagen Golf Estate ride comfort
The Golf rides more comfortably than most other estate cars, and it’s noticeably smoother than an Astra, Octavia or Leon. Its suspension is supple enough to take the worst out of big bumps and potholes, while the ride remains brilliantly composed over the sort of scarred and patched-up surfaces that you find in most towns and cities.
However, lower-powered versions (the 1.0 TSI and 1.6 TDI engines) are fitted with a less sophisticated rear suspension than other models in the range. They still ride very well compared to most rivals, but aren’t as supremely comfortable as more expensive Golfs.
Even the performance R model isn’t too harsh, especially with the optional adaptive dampers fitted, while the off-road biased Alltrack versions are the smoothest-riding off the lot.
Volkswagen Golf Estate handling
Few cars in any class handle as securely and predictably as the Volkswagen Golf. Despite its supple suspension, body sway is kept neatly in check through tight twists and turns, so you always feel confident the car is going to respond exactly how to want it to. There’s loads of grip, too, meaning you can hustle the Golf Estate along a twisty B-road surprisingly rapidly.
True, it isn’t quite as fun or as sharp as a Seat Leon ST or Ford Focus Estate, but the VW’s steering is nicely weighted, accurate and tells you everything you need to know about what the front wheels are doing.
The slightly jacked-up Alltrack off-road model wallows about a touch more, but with four-wheel drive it gets its power down effectively. As does the mighty R model, which also benefits from stiffer suspension than any other Golf Estate, so it darts into corners more nimbly and stays flatter.
Volkswagen Golf Estate refinement
The Golf Estate is one of the quietest cars in its class. Wind and road noise are well suppressed at motorway speeds so it’s a quieter cruiser than a Leon or Octavia, and most of the engines are among the smoothest available. True, the 1.0s thrum away merrily but are never coarse, and only the 1.6-litre diesel is a little disappointing, sounding a tad boomy when revved.
The well-judged weighting of the pedals make it easy to pull away and stop smoothly, while the six-speed manual gearbox fitted to most versions is slick and precise. The five-speed ’box fitted to the lower power 1.0 TSI 85 petrol and the 1.6 TDI diesels is less impressive, with a slightly notchy shift action. The optional DSG automatic ’boxes also tend to be a bit jerky at parking speeds, but shift smoothly once you’re up and running.
This 84bhp three-cylinder 1.0-litre petrol engine is only available in the S trim with a five-speed manual gearbox. We haven’t tried it yet, but with not much power and barley any improvement in emissions over the more powerful 109bhp 1.0, we’d go for that instead.
1.0 TSI 110
It’s plenty good enough if you drive mainly in town, and if you do venture on to the odd motorway, as long as you give it some beans it’ll get up to speed and run with the pack well enough. Offers good a good alternative to diesel for low-milage users, with decent claimed fuel consumption and CO2 emissions, especially if you opt for the seven-speed dual-clutch auto gearbox over the standard six-speed manual.
Our pick 1.4 TSI 125
This free-revving 123bhp four-cylinder petrol offers gutsier performance for more relaxed motorway use and load lugging than the 1.0-litre engines. Comes with a choice of slick-shifting six-speed manual gearbox or an optional seven-speed dual-clutch auto.
1.5 Evo 130 Bluemotion
This engine will be joining the range later in 2017, and we’ll let you know what it’s like as soon as it arrives.
1.5 Evo 150
Available in the more expensive GT and R-Line trims, this engine will be joining the range later in 2017, and we’ll let you know what it’s like as soon as it arrives.
2.0 TSI 310
Only the range-topping R model is available with this seriously powerful 306bhp petrol engine, which combined with four-wheel drive, gives the Golf R the sort of acceleration to worry proper performance cars. It’s available only with a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox.
1.6 TDI 90
We’re yet to try this entry-level diesel but it’s unlikely to be a big seller - most people will go for the gutsier 113bhp version instead, which should be just as efficient in the real-world.
1.6 TDI 115
This diesel engine has 113bhp and comes with a five-speed manual gearbox or an optional seven-speed auto. It’s the least refined diesel engine in the range with performance that is adequate rather than sparkling, but it does offer very competitive claimed fuel consumption and CO2 emissions.
2.0 TDI 150
If you want a diesel and can stretch your budget, we’d take this 2.0-litre engine over the 1.6 TDI 115 because it’s stronger from low revs and smoother, but still returns good claimed fuel economy and CO2 emissions. Available with a standard six-speed manual gearbox or seven-speed dual-clutch auto.
2.0 TDI 184
This most powerful Golf diesel is reserved exclusively for the sporty GTD. Delivers brisk acceleration getting from 0-62mph in as little as 7.4sec, and on to a top speed of 144mph. At the same time it’s claimed to return upwards of 60mpg with the standard six-speed manual gearbox. An optional seven-speed dual-clutch auto is also available.