First drive review: Volkswagen Golf estate (2013)

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When the latest, seventh-generation Volkswagen Golf hit the streets last year it was almost universally praised as the best Golf yet. Indeed, many have called it the best hatchback ever, full stop.

So expectations have been set sky high for the new estate version, which is built on the same platform as the three and five-door variants. It opens the bidding by being longer and wider than the previous Golf estate, with boot space increased by 100 litres. And even though it is larger, it’s a significant 105kg lighter than the previous estate.

It’s better looking, too, with those more sharply styled headlights, deep character lines along the sides of the body and a rear pillar treatment that makes it look much more like one of the Golf family. It’s the best-looking Golf estate yet.

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There’s a good spread of engines. There are four petrols: a 1.2-litre TSI with 84 or 104bhp, a 1.4-litre TSI with 120bhp, and a 1.4-litre TSI with 138bhp and fuel-saving cylinder deactivation. In addition, there are three diesels: a 1.6-litre TDI with 90 or 104bhp, and a 2-litre TDI with 148bhp. There are five and six-speed manual gearboxes available, as well as VW’s excellent six or seven-speed DSG dual-clutch auto.


Volkswagen reckons that the 1.6-litre TDI will be the most popular choice but before the end of the year, it will also offer the full-fat, Bluemotion 1.6 TDI. Along with the usual start-stop and battery regen technology, it features aerodynamic modes such as lowered ride height. It promises fuel consumption of 85.6mpg and super-low emissions of just 87g/km. And with 108bhp, the Bluemotion engine is actually slightly more powerful than the non-Blue version. We had a go in a three-door hatch with the full Bluemotion package and found the performance quite punchy, thanks to its healthy wedge of low-down torque.

Those with a keen memory will recall that The Sunday Times set a Guinness World Record by driving a 1.6 TDI Bluemotion Passat the furthest distance on a single tank of fuel. We travelled 1,526.63 miles at an average of 89.83mpg. Sadly, our record was broken a short time after by a couple of Eastern European motoring hacks with a stunning lack of imagination – they set the new record in the very same model we used.

So, we thought, is it now time to revisit the record books with the new Bluemotion Golf? Well, no, because at 50 litres the fuel tank is considerably smaller than the one in the Passat that I set our record with. We managed to squeeze 77.25 litres of diesel into that one. VW says that the Bluemotion’s improved efficiency means that you still get a good range on a fill, even with the smaller volume.


As with its sibling hatchbacks, you can order the estate in S, SE and GT trim levels. Even in basic S trim, equipment includes DAB digital radio, Bluetooth, iPod connector and a very groovy iPad-like touchscreen for radio and nav controls. We tried the 2-litre TDI in GT guise, which includes lowered suspension, 17in alloys, front and rear parking sensors, and a reversing camera. With 148bhp on offer, the estate’s performance felt really strong. The engine works very well with the seven-speed DSG ‘box, which shifts as swiftly as it does smoothly.

The estate loses none of the handling composure and communicative steering that features so prominently on the hatchbacks. I imagine that might change if you were to use that 1,620-litre seats-down cargo volume to move some serious clobber but then, who would expect a fully laden estate to handle like a slot car? The ride quality is fine, too, although it’s a little firmer when the car’s riding on bigger 17in wheels.

The estate’s interior is pretty much identical to that of its five-door hatch brother, although there’s a bit more space in the back seats. And, of course, you get that same sense of unburstable quality in materials and construction; every surface you touch feels expensively textured.


As a practical load hauler, the Golf estate looks like a solid player. The rear seats fold flat with the pull of a lever and there are load-securing eyelets fixed in the floor. And with its increased size, the Golf is now close enough to its bigger, more expensive Passat cousin that you’d want to think twice about opting for the latter without having a go in both.

Volkswagen has sold a staggering 30 million Golfs since the model’s launch 40-odd years ago. You don’t do that without offering a car that ticks all the right boxes, all the time. And this new estate, while not the most exciting tool in the box, does exactly that.


Verdict ★★★★☆

A predictably great addition to the Golf family


Volkswagen Golf estate 2.0 TDI GT

1968cc, diesel, 4 cylinders
148bhp @ 3500rpm
236 lb ft @ 1750rpm
6-speed manual
0-62mph: 8.9sec
Top speed:
67.3mpg (combined)
Road tax band:

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