Used Volkswagen Golf Estate 1999 - 2005 review

Category: Estate car

A competent, reliable and safe estate

Volkswagen Golf Estate (97 - 06)
  • Volkswagen Golf Estate (97 - 06)
  • Volkswagen Golf Estate (97 - 06)
Used Volkswagen Golf Estate 1999 - 2005 review
Star rating

What's the used Volkswagen Golf estate like?

The estate version of the VW Golf offers reasonable rather than exceptional boot space. 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.


A competent, reliable and safe estate

  • Solidly built
  • excellent image
  • Doesn't handle very well
  • only average boot space

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.

Ownership cost

What used Volkswagen Golf estate will I get for my budget?

How much does it cost to run a Volkswagen Golf estate?

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.

Our recommendations

Which used Volkswagen Golf estate should I buy?

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 VW 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 VW Golf spec is SE, which features alloys, a trip computer and cruise control.


What alternatives should I consider to a used Volkswagen Golf estate?