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The Top Gear car review:Volkswagen Golf Estate
For:Vast improvement: practical and good to own
Against:Such excellence doesn't come cheap
2.0 TDI SE 5dr
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What we say:
All-new Golf Estate doesn't just look much better: it's now one of the family estate sector's best buys
What is it?
Unlike the outgoing Golf MkVI, this is more than just a comprehensive and clever facelift. The Golf MkVII really is an all-new car. But instead of radically redesigning it, VW has come up with… a Golf. When you’ve sold 29 million of ‘em, you don’t throw away a formula that’s so successful. Instead, you improve it. Which is why no stone has been left unturned in the pursuit of perfection.
This is the new Golf Estate. Volkswagen has long-tried with family estate cars without ever getting it right. Surprising, given how good the Golf hatch is. Finally, here’s one that looks to have hit the nail on the head. Out goes the unfortunate rear-end droop, in comes crisp, sharp-edged and contemporary.
As with the hatch, the headline here is the ride, which is little short of a revelation. It absorbs, isolates and simply glides above the disturbance of Britain’s knackered roads. Yet, with less weight up front and all-new suspension, the chassis also delivers more feedback and grip than you may expect from such a supple ride. Sure, you’d never call it agile, but for progression and precision, it’s fine – albeit better on higher-end multi-link rear suspension than the penny-pinching torsion bar setup of lesser cars.
The new Golf Estate shares its engine line-up with the hatch. There are some interesting new engines along with the familiar (and still able) TSIs and TDIs from the old one. The 150bhp 1.4 TSI ACT is most meritorious, with an ingenious cylinder shut-off feature that lets it run as a two-pot when power demand is low. You can just about tell when it’s doing so but the transition is buttery smooth, and it really does offer the best of both petrol and diesel.
On the inside
Golfs have been defined by their interiors for years and this one doesn’t disappoint. It delivers a real sense of calm, orderly wellbeing but, thanks to the new platform, also has a lower and comfier driving position, better layout and generally makes smarter use of the space on offer.
The boot is a commodious 605-litres, and rear-seat space is excellent for the class.
Because it’s lighter, the new Golf is yet more fuel efficient. The cut-above prices remain but you get even more for your money. As it’s cheaper to run and safer, it’s hard to see how any rival can compete.