Road Test: Volkswagen Golf Estate 2.0 TDI GT
Sector: Lower Medium Price: £24,700 Fuel: 67.3mpg CO2: 108g/km
One of the first things that strikes you about the new Volkswagen Golf Estate is, from the back at least, how much it looks like the Passat. And that’s not the only reason this may leave you questioning the need to move up to the larger car.
The Golf Estate shares its wheelbase with the hatchback, based on Volkswagen’s new modular lightweight platform which helps shave 101kg off the kerb weight. It’s a generation forward than the Passat, and as a load carrier it’s a much more versatile machine, too.
Behind the rear seats is a large and wide load area, with a multi-level floor to conceal an additional compartment beneath, large enough to hold the load cover when it’s not in use. Filled from the bottom of this under-floor compartment to the top of the rear bench, it’ll carry 605 litres – which is actually slightly more than the Passat Estate’s 603 litre capacity.
Naturally the Passat has the edge with the seats folded down, the longer wheelbase offering 111 litres of extra space over the Golf’s 1,620 litres and an extra 125mm over its sibling’s 1,831mm load length, but for load moving with the family in the back there’s nothing in it. If anything, the Golf has the edge. However, a folding passenger seat, as in the Skoda Octavia Estate, would have been a useful feature. As would a rear bench which folded completely flat.
Weight saving on the Volkswagen Group’s new platform means the Golf offers a sharper drive than its larger sibling, too. Every button and switch in the cabin feels just right, the steering impeccably well sorted and gear throws are short and positive. Most fleet drivers will opt for the smaller 1.6-litre TDI, but for long-distance cruising the 148bhp 2.0-litre diesel takes the effort out of motorway miles and offers a little more refinement.
Of course, the downside with the Golf is that it’s almost as expensive as a near equivalent Passat, but an equipment list which includes Bluetooth, DAB radio, touch screen satellite navigation and autonomous emergency braking with automatic cruise control puts a gap between the two. As does this car’s 43% residual value after three years and 60,000 miles – a third better than a similarly equipped Passat.
Volkswagen is coming close to an all-new Passat, which will widen the gap between the two models once again. But in the meantime, the Golf Estate offers the practicality, running cost and driving experience to make it almost a no-brainer. This said, the Skoda Octavia Estate benefits from the same platform upgrades as the Golf, it’s cheaper and more versatile again, which adds up to an even more credible downsizing option.
There are some excellent new products in this sector, not least of all a very practical new Civic, hybrid drive in the Auris and Peugeot’s all-new 308 SW. But the Golf’s used desirability and timeless styling mean not only is it a safe bet in the C-segment, but it could make sense for downsizers too.