First Drive

First Drive: Volkwagen Golf Estate

VOLKSWAGEN GOLF ESTATE 2.0 TDI 115 LIFE
The story: Volkswagen’s Golf gets its utilitarian model in the form of the estate, taking the new front-end and redesigned interior and giving it load-lugging practicality
Category:Lower medium
Key rival:Ford Focus
Price:£25,945
Efficiency:61.4mpg
Emissions:120g/km
On sale:Now

That most sensible of cars, the lower-medium estate, has a classy new competitor with the arrival of the latest Volkswagen Golf Estate.

This area of the market is synonymous with job-need machinery as recreational buyers have deserted mid-sized wagons in favour of SUVs, but there are still some strong competitors in the form of the Ford Focus, Kia Ceed, Renault Megane, Seat Leon, Toyota Corolla and Vauxhall Astra.

The latest Golf gets off to a good start in the styling stakes thanks to the sharp nose on VW’s iconic model, and the heavily revamped interior that looks good at first glance, but has a few usability issues around the infotainment set-up.

First Drive - April 2021 - Volkswagen Golf Estate - Image 1The load space also helps enhance the Golf’s cause, because a six-litre increase over the Mk7 Golf Estate takes it to 611 litres, 30 more than the Toyota Corolla, and well ahead of its other core rivals.

The Golf Estate is offered in Life, Style and R-Line trim levels and with three petrol engines: a 1.0-litre three-cylinder with 110hp, and a 1.5-litre four-cylinder that develops either 130hp or 150hp, as well as this 2.0-litre 115hp diesel.

The 110hp petrol with the DSG automatic gearbox actually matches the manual diesel’s best of 120g/km, although fuel efficiency and P11D figures are slightly in favour of the diesel. But that 120g/km figure for the diesel is a way off the best in the segment, with the hybrid Corolla, our CCT100 Lower Medium Car of the Year, getting down to 103g/km in estate form, and the diesel Ford Focus sitting two BiK bands lower on 112g/km.

The Corolla also significantly trumps the diesel Golf on residuals, although the VW’s premium status among volume players gives it an RV advantage over the rest of its competitors.

First Drive - April 2021 - Volkswagen Golf Estate - Image 2It needs it to help compensate for a price tag that reflects that slight premium status among volume brands, because it’s more than £1000 pricier than any rival bar the Toyota. What that combination of higher price and middling CO2 shakes out to is that the Golf’s monthly BiK payments for a 20% tax payer put it above most rivals, between £5-£19 per month more depending on competitor. Which may or may not be deemed worth paying to get the VW over a less illustrious brand.

The new Golf is a decent drive, and nothing changes in the estate, with a pleasant ride quality and refinement, and little diesel clatter entering the cabin. The 115hp diesel isn’t overpowered but is fine with a little working of the gearlever, and will suit the high-mileage users that still gravitate towards this sort of workhorse.

paul barker

The verdict

Classy, good to look at and good to drive, as well as offering a big chunk of sensible boot space, but you’ll pay a small amount in extra BiK over most rivals.