Road Test: Volkswagen Golf Estate SE Nav

Reporter:

Steve Rogers

WOMEN can be really fussy when it comes to cars.

Well the one living in our house is. Had my wife been writing about the newVolkswagen Golf estate she would have a complained about its hard ride, its bland design and plain interior.

And the colour was dull, although she did have a point there.

As soon as she mentioned the ride I went straight to the mode button to check it was not on the sport setting. It wasn’t.

To be fair she is not the first to say the Golf is a bit on the plain side, especially theestate, but then so are the majority of its rivals. The only small estate with any design flair is the Honda Civic although a lot more people buy a Golf.

Volkswagen has never been a company to push the style boundaries mainly because it doesn’t need to. The profile of today’s Golf has a strong family resemblance to the 1974 original yet it is still one of the world’s biggest selling models.

We are into the seventh generation of the Golf estate and true to form there are no big surprises with this facelift. Five years ago I would have been talking about better body control and sharper handling etc. Now the emphasis is on providing online access to handy information, fuel pricing, parking space availability and the like, and keeping people connected so that everything on a smartphone can be channelled into the car’s touchscreen.

That touchscreen is now bigger, 8.5in in my SE Nav, with better definition – the reversing camera is a good visual example – and it is easy to use with clearly marked quick pads around the screen’s perimeter.

Moving a finger towards the screen brings up an extra row of icon buttons, something I found irritating but it can be turned off. Worse still is the navigation voice having to compete with the radio which does not mute when directions are being given.

The touchscreen takes care of all the car’s internal functions apart from the heating which is controlled by rotary switches. Just the way I like it.

A Golf estate is 31cm longer than the hatchback and makes a whole lot of sense for families. If ever there was a case for downsizing this is it. Why bother with a bigger, more expensive VW Passat or Ford Mondeo when the Golf offers all the space you need?

With the back seats in place the estate offers a generous 605 litres of space compared to the hatchback’s 380 litres, and folded flat it rises to a whopping 1,620 litres. The length is tremendous, taking my racing bicycle with room to spare.

All round vision is good because there is plenty of glass which helps when reversing into a tight space. Front and rear parking sensors are fitted from SE up but £250 for a reversing camera is always money well spent, and this one is always kept clean, popping out from the VW roundel on the tailgate when reverse gear is engaged. Neat.

Stump up more money and the Golf will virtually park itself – into a side or parallel space – the driver just controls the car’s speed. It will also front the car out of a space which is always a tricky one, worrying if bumpers are going to touch.

Good news for caravanners is that trailer assist – yes it will park a caravan or trailer – is also available. That said the majority who tow have learned the intricacies of reversing and would feel safer doing it themselves.

Golf is up there with the best when it comes to poise and handling, well let’s be honest, it is the best, but do you lose out with theestate? Absolutely not. Long gone are the days when estate cars were sloppy, lurching and understeering.

The Golf ride is composed and a joy slipping through tight bends. There is a firmness to the ride, which troubled Mrs Rogers, but I liked the way it smoothed out bumps and cushioned occupants on rougher surfaces. It will do for me.

Volkswagen Golf Estate SE Nav

  • Engine: 1.6 diesel; 113bhp
  • Performance: N/A
  • Economy: 70.6mpg combined
  • Emissions: 103g/km. Road tax £140
  • Insurance group: 14
  • Price: £24,530 (starts £19,470)

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