Volkswagen Golf Estate (2013-2020) Review
The VW Golf Estate is a practical and versatile estate that delivers low running costs, plenty of luggage space and a high-quality feel
Strengths & weaknesses
Flexibility and practicality are key to the VW Golf’s appeal. Sure, it feels like an upmarket product, but it’s also straightforward, sensible family transport. And in the case of the estate version, straightforward no-nonsense family transport with a rather large boot.
Up front, the Golf Estate offers exactly the same amount of space as the regular hatchback model, but behind the rear doors, there’s an elongated body that increases the car’s boot space to 605 litres, up from the 380 litres in the regular hatchback model.
Engine choices are pretty broad for the Golf Estate, with 'TSI' petrol options including a 1.0-litre that’s reasonably punchy, if a little overwhelmed by a full load, a similarly powerful 1.2-litre, several surprisingly punchy 1.4-litre engines with various power outputs and from 2016, 1.5-litre engines that replaced the older 1.4-litre options.
Diesel models were much more common than the petrol engines, however, and your choice here includes a 115hp 1.6-litre and a more powerful 2.0-litre diesel with 150hp, which offers an impressive blend of power and fuel economy.
There’s also the GTD, which is a more performance-focused diesel model and the Alltrack, which gets raised suspension, SUV-style looks and four-wheel-drive. The GTD gets a 184hp 2.0-litre diesel engine, while the Alltrack gets the option of this or lower-powered 1.6 and 2.0-litre diesel engines. And if you’re after ultimate performance, there’s always the four-wheel-drive, 300hp Golf R.
Gearbox options are either a five-speed or six-speed manual - the number of gears depends on the engine - or a smooth-shifting seven-speed automatic. What is missing from this version of the Golf is an electric model (though the electric e-Golf was available in hatchback form) and a plug-in hybrid (though the GTE plug-in hybrid was available as a hatchback).
Inside, the Volkswagen Golf Estate is an undeniably posh-feeling car, especially compared with rivals from the likes of Ford, Toyota and Vauxhall. This is especially true if you get one of the models that were produced after a significantly updated version was released in 2017, as these get larger touchscreens for the radio and sat-nav (where fitted). But whatever flavour, age or trim level of Golf Estate you plump for, you’ll find a cabin that majors on user friendliness and a sense of robustness.
You won’t find much to inspire you if you’re after a car that’s fun to drive, but the Golf nevertheless feels composed and surefooted around corners, although the ride can be a tad on the firm side, especially if you opt for a model with larger alloy wheels.
That said, as fuss-free family transport that feels a cut above equivalents from Ford and Vauxhall in terms of quality, the Golf Estate is a very appealing family car option.
Should I get a Volkswagen Golf Estate?
✔ Looks upmarket without being overly flashy
✔ Feels solid and built to last inside and out
✔ Fuel-efficient range of petrol and diesel engines
✘ No electric or plug-in hybrid options
✘ Other estates are more fun to drive
✘ Firm ride on some versions
As a car that’s practical and functional - especially if you need a big boot - but which doesn’t make you feel like you’re driving a commercial vehicle, the Golf Estate is a great choice. It’s comfortable, robust, smart-looking, spacious without seeming overly large on the outside and for the most part well equipped.
A Toyota Auris estate of a similar age might prove more reliable, a Ford Focus Estate will be more fun to drive, and a Skoda Octavia Estate will give you more room to cart about both people and luggage. However, the Golf Estate manages to be more than the sum of its parts - a true multi-tasker. And the way it balances functionality with a premium feel that you would need to step up to a Mercedes or BMW badge to better means it makes a compelling choice if you’re after a medium-sized estate car.
- Models explained
- Trim levels
- Best Golf Estate for
- Should I buy used?
- Boot space
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Volkswagen Golf Estate
Aside from the larger boot space and the longer rear bodywork, there’s not much to set the Golf Estate apart from the regular hatchback model. Both versions get broadly the same engine and trim options. There is no plug-in hybrid GTE Estate, however, nor a Golf GTI Estate.
The major change from hatchback to estate version, of course, is the lengthened rear bodywork. This delivers a luggage capacity of 605 litres, which is impressive for a car of this size - though the Skoda Octavia Estate, Peugeot 308 SW and Kia Ceed SW can all carry slightly more.
Volkswagen Golf Alltrack
The Golf Alltrack brings some of the advantages of an SUV - four-wheel-drive, a slightly raised ride height (by 20mm) and rugged-looking styling tweaks - but in a more traditional estate car body style.
Power comes from a 184hp 2.0-litre diesel engine, or a less powerful 150hp 2.0-litre version. There's also a smaller and more economical 1.6-litre diesel version with 115hp, along with a 180hp 1.8-litre petrol option, but these models are very rare indeed.
Volkswagen Golf R Estate
300hp from a 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine and four-wheel-drive make the R model the Golf Estate to go for if you need luggage space and sports car performance. It’s great fun to drive and is available as either a six-speed manual or seven-speed automatic. It even offers the prospect of around 35mpg fuel economy if you drive it carefully, which is reasonable for this type of car.
The Golf R Estate delivers the same substantial 605 litres of boot space as other Golf Estates, despite its four-wheel-drive hardware under the boot floor, which can eat into the luggage capacity of some cars.
Visually, you can spot the Golf R most easily by its four exhaust pipes, although the R badges and sporty body kit are otherwise relatively subtle.
|S||Limited stock: S trim level cars are fairly basic, but still get air-conditioning and a digital radio as part of a six-inch touchscreen media system. Steel wheels with plastic trims are standard-fit, but many buyers opted to upgrade to alloy wheels.|
|SE||Limited stock: SE cars bring standard autonomous emergency braking, alloy wheels and electric rear windows. SE trim is still not luxurious, but all the essentials are provided. SE Nav models, as the name implies, add sat-nav to the list of goodies.|
|GT||From £12,558: Upgrade to GT and you’ll get front and rear parking sensors, sporty-looking 17-inch alloy wheels and lowered, firmer sports suspension.|
|Alltrack||Limited stock: The Alltrack is a high-spec trim level with plenty of equipment as standard. It’s also designed to be capable of some light off-roading, with raised suspension, bodywork cladding and four-wheel-drive.|
|R||From £20,990: With four-wheel-drive and 300hp, the estate version of the Golf R offers sports car performance and estate car flexibility, although it’s not quite as much fun to drive as the Golf R hatchback owing to its extra size.|
There’s an enormous array of possible engines to choose from with a Golf Estate, from small, efficient petrol units to strong 200hp diesels that provide effortless mid-range punch and exceptional fuel economy.
The best bet for most drivers, however, is one of the 1.5 'TSI' petrols. These come with either 130hp or 150hp and were introduced when the Golf received an update in 2016.
These engines are impressively smooth performers and, with cylinder deactivation technology, they can shut off half of the engine when this is not needed to help improve fuel efficiency, such as when coasting down long downhill stretches. That means they should be capable of around 50 mpg, which makes them surprisingly economical for engines of this type.
Of the two power outputs, we’d plump for the 150hp model as its extra performance makes the car more flexible when carrying heavy loads, more relaxed in faster traffic and barely impacts fuel economy.
There’s no plug-in hybrid or electric option with the Golf Estate but otherwise the model range offers a broad choice of engine options and equipment levels, from basic but cheerful 1.0-litre ‘S’ models to the high-performance 300hp Golf R or rugged Alltrack off-road version.
Diesel models provide the prospect of the best fuel economy, and they're the best bet for high-mileage drivers as a result, but the petrol engines - especially later 1.5 TSI versions - are still impressively fuel-efficient and worth considering, regardless of your annual mileage.
|Volkswagen Golf Estate 1.6 TDI 115 S: The entry level trim and entry-level diesel engine isn’t the last word in luxury motoring, but you should get more than 60mpg and the same solidly-built Golf feel, even if there isn’t much in the way of upmarket equipment.|
|Volkswagen Golf Estate 1.5 TSI 130 SE Nav: The 1.5-litre petrol engine is quiet, refined, efficient and powerful enough for easy motorway cruising, while sat-nav and rear electric windows are useful bits of kit to have.|
|Volkswagen Golf R Estate: If you want a Golf Estate that is quick and sporty, this is it. 300hp, 0-62mph in around 5.0 seconds and four-wheel-drive makes this a seriously fast way to carry people and luggage around the country.|
|Volkswagen Golf Estate 1.0 TSI: although the smallest petrol engine in the Golf Estate lineup is relatively punchy, it doesn’t really have the pulling power to cope with the extra bulk of the estate car body style. That’s especially true when the car’s fully loaded with luggage.|
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As SUVs have become more and more popular, the number of estate car buyers has dwindled, which means that fewer manufacturers offer them as an option than was once the case. But at the size and price of the Golf Estate there are actually still plenty of models to choose from.
Chief rivals for your money if you’re thinking of a Golf Estate include the Ford Focus Estate, the Kia Ceed Sportswagon and Peugeot 308 SW. The Golf has more boot space and feels more upmarket than the Focus (especially pre-2018 examples of the Ford, which only manage 476 litres of space), but the Ford is more fun to drive.
Both the Kia Ceed and Peugeot 308 offer more luggage space, although the Peugeot’s comes at the expense of rear legroom. The Skoda Octavia Estate, meanwhile, offers a teensy bit more boot space than the Golf, but a lot more room for rear-seat passengers. Like the Golf it’s a sensible, pragmatic family estate, but is a bit less plush inside than the VW.
Family estate cars inspire a loyal following, so despite the increasing popularity of SUVs, there are still plenty of good family estates for sale second-hand, of which a significant number will be Golf Estates. This means that it should be easy enough to find a suitable used model.
What’s more, the sheer desirability of the VW badge means a Golf Estate should hold onto its value fairly well. So, even though the overall initial price may seem quite high - especially when you compare the Golf with a Ford or Kia - the car will potentially lose less value during the time you have it. This means that PCP finance monthly payments should be comparatively low against these rivals, too.
Base-spec S models are relatively thin on the ground, but we reckon the SE and SE Nav trims are the sweet spot in the range and these are much more widely available. Diesel models are much more numerous on earlier models, but petrol versions are by far the more common option for post-2016 cars.
Volkswagen Golf Estate practicality: dimensions and boot space
Coming in at just over 4.5 metres long, this version of the Golf Estate is just over 30 centimetres longer than the hatchback version of the same car, with most of the extra length in the rear bodywork. This, and an upright hatchback design, gives a significant amount of extra boot space. However, because the extra room is all behind the rear wheels, there’s no more space in the rear passenger seats than you’ll find in the regular Golf hatchback.
It’s also just under 1.5 metres tall and 1.8 metres wide (or 2.03m if you count the door mirrors), which is essentially the same as rivals like the Ford Focus Estate, Vauxhall Astra Sports Tourer and Kia Ceed SW.
In terms of overall dimensions, the Golf Estate strikes a good balance between being large enough to easily accommodate people and a decent amount of luggage without being too large for typical parking spaces.
|Length 4,562mm||Width 1,799mm|
|Height 1,481mm||Weight 1,285kg - 1,584kg|
With 605 litres of capacity to call on, the Golf has more boot space than the Ford Focus Estate (especially pre-2018 examples of the Ford, which only manage 476 litres of space), but the Ford is more fun to drive. Both the Kia Ceed and Peugeot 308 offer more luggage space, although the Peugeot’s 660 litres of boot space comes at the expense of rear legroom.
The Skoda Octavia Estate, meanwhile, offers slightly more boot space than the Golf at 610 litres, but does provide a lot more room for rear-seat passengers, making it a more practical choice overall.
Fold the rear seats down and you’ll get 1,620 litres of space in the Golf Estate, which is impressive, but some distance off the 1,740 litres of room available when you fold the seats down in a Skoda Octavia Estate.
|Seats up 605 litres||Seats down 1,620 litres|
Volkswagens are considered largely reliable cars, but the brand isn't up there with the best manufacturers when it comes to outright dependability - Volkswagens tend to rank somewhere in the middle for owner satisfaction and in general reliability surveys.
In the case of this version of the Golf Estate, timing chains can be a problem if the car hasn’t been maintained properly - but as long as there’s evidence of on-time servicing, this shouldn’t be an issue.
Other than that, the VW Golf Estate should provide reliable, robust family motoring at least on a level with most other family-friendly estate cars.
Volkswagen offers a three-year warranty with a 60,000-mile limit. That’s more or less the industry standard, but not as good as the seven-year warranties offered by Kia, SsangYong and MG. Toyota warranties can last longer from new, too, offering up to a whopping 10 years of protection if you continue to service the car regularly.
Where the VW warranty is more impressive than the others is in that it offers an unlimited mileage level of cover for the first two years - which is great if you cover regular, long motorway trips and rack up high annual mileages.
Coverage excludes all the usual wear-and-tear items such as brakes, clutch, tyres and suspension, but Volkswagen will cover these for the first six months or 6,500 miles. The same short-term warranty protection applies to mechanical adjustments.
|3 years||60,000 miles|
AVERAGE REPAIR COST PAID BY WARRANTYWISE: £537
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The most popular Golf versions of this age are the SE and SE Nav trim levels. This is because these offer plenty of standard equipment without being too pricey or loaded with unnecessary extras - and if you’re in the market for a practical car like a Golf Estate, that’s surely going to appeal to you.
Diesel engines are predominantly found in earlier cars. Of these, the 1.6-litre models are by far the most common but, although they’re economical, they do feel a little sluggish. Find one of the much more flexible and more powerful 2.0-litre models if you can. They’ll cost a little more in road tax, but they’re barely any less fuel-efficient.
Diesel Volkswagen models have come under a lot of scrutiny in recent years, with Volkswagen headlining the diesel scandal in 2015. With that in mind, you can check out our handy guide to determine whether diesel power is for you. Diesel models still typically offer higher fuel economy than petrol engines with similar power, so can be a wise option for high-mileage drivers.
In terms of petrol Golf Estates, the later 1.5 TSI in a mid-level trim such as SE is a good option. It’s more economical than the older 1.4-litre models in real-world driving, and has a more refined feel to it. There are 130hp and 150hp versions, and either one is a fine choice.
Alltrack models are rare for this type of Golf, but are a good choice if you want the extra-traction of four-wheel-drive for occasional light off-road use. The 300hp Golf R Estate, meanwhile, is a good bet if you want a fast, enjoyable-to-drive Golf Estate. It’s capable of going from 0-62mph in 5.0 seconds and is available on BuyaCar from £402.43 per month.
*Representative PCP finance - 2018 Ford Fiesta 1.0 ST-Line Hatchback:
|PCP representative example||APR rates available|
|Cash price £12,000||APR 7.90%||Value of loan||From|
|Fixed monthly payment £218.12||Annual mileage of 8,000pa||£25,000+||6.9%|
|Total cost of credit £2,755.55||Term 48 months||£12,000-£24,999||7.9%|
|Optional final payment £4,285.79||Loan value £12,000||£8,000-£11,999||8.9%|
|Total amount payable £14,755.55||Deposit £0||<8,000||9.9%|
BuyaCar is a credit broker, not a lender. Our rates start from 6.9% APR. The rate you are offered will depend on your individual circumstances.
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