• 100-litre increase in boot space
• Prices from £17,915
• BlueMotion version later in the year

The Volkswagen Golf range has ballooned as part of a product offensive, with not just the hatchback, but also the GTD, GTI and now the Estate and BlueMotion versions all being launched within months of each other. We’ve driven the load-lugging Estate for the first time to see if a big boot spoils the Golf or adds even more appeal.

Based on the same all-new chassis as the hatchback, the estate is a considerable 307-mm longer. An elongated roofline doesn’t spoil its good looks though, its tail has the same clean elegance of its big brother, the Passat Estate. Gloss black door pillars give the side windows a long flowing appearance, while pronounced wheel arches plant the car on the road.

The longer boot increases luggage space to 605 litres (100 more than its predecessor), or 1,620 litres with the rear seats folded flat. It easily dwarfs the Ford Focus Estate, which manages just 476 to 1,502 litres, and it isn’t too far behind the gargantuan Octavia Estate, with 610 to 1,740 litres. There’s a wide and low loading lip and the luggage area is snag free, thanks to a flap which covers the gap normally left when the rear seats are flipped forwards. It does do without the Octavia’s clever boot handles, a tug on which automatically folds the seats down.

Four petrol engines and three diesel engines are available, ranging from 1.2 to 2.0-litres and between 83bhp and 147bhp. The most popular model in the UK is expected to be the 1.6-litre TDI with 103bhp, thanks to its impressively low running costs, with economy of 72.4mpg and emissions of 102g/km of CO2. It’s fitted with a five-speed manual gearbox or seven-speed DSG automatic. Insurance-wise, the new model is around four groups lower than the outgoing Golf Estate, further cutting costs.

Private customers are also likely to plump for the 1.4-litre TSI with 120bhp, a smooth and quiet engine which averages more than 53mpg. The top GT trim level is also offered with a 1.4-litre TSI engine with 138bhp and cylinder deactivation technology, boosting its economy to near-diesel levels, while delivering punchy performance when you need it.

Trim levels are S, SE and GT as well as a BlueMotion model for the first time, coming later this year. All models get stop and start, Bluetooth, DAB radio with a 5.8-inch touchscreen, iPod connector, seven airbags and an XDS electronic differential. SE models improve safety with a forward-facing sensor to help avoid accidents, as well as 16-inch alloys, different driving modes and auto lights and wipers. GT models, starting from £23,935, have 17-inch wheels, sports suspension, privacy glass, sat-nav, folding door mirrors and parking sensors.

On the road, the Golf Estate feels just as surefooted as the hatchback with masses of grip and impressively precise steering. It has a little more body roll than the Golf hatchback or Focus Estate, but this slightly softer suspension also did an excellent job of soaking up bumps, improving comfort and refinement.

The Golf Estate’s cabin really is a classy place to be, with everything from the soft-touch dashboard to its quiet and vibration-free engines adding to the feel that you are driving a quality item. It might be slightly less fun to drive than the Focus, but it beats it for space and feels like a more premium model in almost every respect.

Its biggest competition actually comes from within its own ranks, because the Octavia Estate is every bit as good to drive, similarly impressive inside and cheaper. For some, it will come down to the Volkswagen badge and the Golf Estate’s good looks, for others the Octavia will be a no brainer.

By Andy Goodwin

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