Volkswagen launched the new Golf in April of this year with claims of more technology and improved styling to give the car a new look.
Like all things Volkswagen the changes are cautious and evolutionary, there’s no denying the Golf heritage. That’s evident across the full range and even more so in the Golf Estate version that I’ve had on the road in recent weeks.
The new Golf styling is sharper and more modern. There’s a noticeable feeling of fine tuning, with careful styling details that retain the Golf appearance.
The new look is mildly distinctive from the past with new bumpers, new radiator grille, new full-LED tail lights, new hidden exhaust pipes and new glass headlight covers that extend further up the wing of the car a sportier look.
These new LED headlights which replace all xenon headlights of the Golf models give better night time driving light, especially noticeable on rural roads.
For estate car drivers the priorities are load, space and comfort coupled with sensible economy. In these features the Golf Estate delivers on most counts, while it’s important to pick your specification choices with care.
The test car was the Highline version, which offers the highest specification in the range. That includes a host of safety features and the new more sophisticated touch-screen infotainment system. I was immediately impressed with the new interior design, the layout of the controls and the electronic dash that is instantly attractive to look at and use.
This car was powered by the 1.6-litre turbo-diesel engine with an 115bhp power rating, just one step up from the base model in terms of power and torque. The disappointing feature of the specification was the fact that this was matched to a five-speed gearbox and that didn’t seem to allow for the full performance capacity of the 270Nm torque engine.
Out on the road, that meant my motorway cruising speeds were pushing the engine into the 2,000+rpm zone and that always impacts on economy. Instead, I opted for more sedate driving to manage the revs and the fuel economy that bit better. The end result was a less exciting driving experience that I would have liked or expected.
The positive side of that story is that my range exceeded the car’s expectations. When I sat in behind the wheel the car’s impressive computer system predicted that my range would be 720km on a full tank. In reality, I achieved a figure of more than 840km, which I was impressed about, even if it was more than 30% higher than the official rate of 24km/litre (4.2/100km or 68mpg).
Once I took my mind off the five-speed feature and relaxed into the driving, I soon became very comfortable with the new Golf Estate. This car has great boot capacity with ease of use and a space saver spare under the boot floor.
I began to enjoy the new Discover Navigation Pro radio-navigation and online system that features Volkswagen’s gesture control. This system features a large 9.2-inch screen and sits alongside the Active Info Display which is standard on all Highline and Performance Golf’s. Just run your hand in front of the screen and the menu options appear.
There is also a larger range of online services and apps available for the system to enhance its use. I found that following the easy set up of my mobile phone to the car’s Bluetooth system, I quickly got comfortable with the range of features of the new system.
This Golf is available in three specifications, Trendline, Comfortline and Highline. Volkswagen is offering additional well-priced specification packs to boost the specification levels across each of these grades.
For estate car buyers there are a number of attractive looking options from the Ford Focus to the Opel Astra, equally fine cars. The new Golf estate beats both in terms of boot space with or without folding the rear seats. For true estate car space seekers then the Skoda Octavia will be leading choice. It has all of the power features of the Golf with acres more boot space, especially when you fold the rear seats down the floor.
Entry prices for the Golf estate are competitive with diesel models starting from €25,770. The new entry level 1.0 turbo-petrol version is now also worth considering as it has improved economy and similar running costs to diesel cars.
This new Golf has to compete against the popular estate cars including the Ford Focus (€24,740) and Opel Astra (€24,995), both of which have impressive styling and are strong sellers in what is a smaller niche estate car market. If you want even more space than the Golf offering then the new Skoda Octavia (€24,695) with many of the Golf features including the same engine, a further option to consider.