Volkswagen Golf Estate Review 2024

Volkswagen Golf Estate At A Glance

Honest John Overall Rating
The Volkswagen Golf Estate is a great all-rounder. It has a big boot and an image that transcends class boundaries. It’s also a very practical alternative to buying an SUV.

+Large boot makes it more versatile than a Golf hatchback. All versions come with plenty of standard equipment. Range of economical engines.

-Prices look expensive compared to the similar Skoda Octavia. Infotainment is endlessly frustrating. Interior looks cheap in places. Not the most enjoyable estate car to drive.

In a world where everyone seems to want an SUV, traditional family wagons such as the Volkswagen Golf Estate are a dying breed. However, this sophisticated load lugger proves that an estate car can still be a great, one-car-fits-all choice.

The Volkswagen Golf Estate has been part of the Golf range for three decades, offering a more capacious alternative to the ubiquitous hatchback version. With a large boot and a classless image, the Golf Estate has established itself as the wagon of choice for those who want an upmarket car without a premium price tag. 

In this eighth-generation Golf guise, the estate is arguably better looking than the regular hatchback. Neat proportions mean it avoids appearing like a Golf with extra bodywork tacked on. We think it’s actually rather handsome. 

The latest Golf Estate’s smoother bodywork hasn’t come at the expense of interior space. The Golf Estate can carry 611 litres of luggage with the rear seats in place, or a very useful 1642 litres with them folded flat. Although this doesn’t quite match the closely related Skoda Octavia Estate, it does put the Volkswagen Golf Estate ahead of the Ford Focus Estate. Interior space for passengers is competitive with class rivals, too, even if the back bench isn’t hugely accommodating. 

Despite the clamour for electrification, Volkswagen has so far resisted offering the Golf Estate with a plug-in hybrid (or indeed fully electric) drivetrain. Instead, more traditional petrol and diesel engines remain the order of the day, but these suit the demands of the Golf Estate – and its likely owners – very well. 

For maximum performance, Volkswagen offers the Golf Estate in R format. This halo model comes with more than 320PS, and is unique and special enough to deserve its own review. 

There is also a diesel-only Golf Estate Alltrack, which brings increased ride height and standard all-wheel drive to the party. Think of it as a charming halfway-house between an estate car and an SUV. We’ve covered this model separately, too.

Other than the racy R version (read our Golf R review for more detail), the Golf Estate majors on comfort and refinement. Models with more powerful engines gain a more complex multi-link rear suspension setup, but even this doesn’t transform the Golf into a car you’d drive just for fun. A Ford Focus Estate, or even the SEAT Leon Estate, will satisfy keen drivers more.

Although more expensive than its rivals, the Golf Estate counters with Volkswagen’s generous level of standard specification. Satellite navigation, LED headlights and climate control air-con are all fitted as standard. It is just a shame that the interior itself can feel cheap in places, and that drivers are saddled with the frustrating Innovision infotainment setup. 

Despite the infuriating touchscreen media system (more on this later), and an interior that seems built to a cost, the Volkswagen Golf Estate still delivers on its promise of being a practical family car. Add in a refined driving experience and those classy looks, and the Golf Estate remains an appealing alternative to yet another small SUV.  

Ask Honest John

Can you suggest an alternative to the Volkswagen Golf Estate?

"I would like to buy a used Volkswagen Golf Estate but a low mileage, petrol automatic is £16,000-plus. Just outside my price range. Can you suggest one or two alternative similar cars which might fit the bill? "
Have you considered a SEAT Leon Estate? It's mechanically very similar to the Golf (with the same platform and engines) but you should find your budget goes a bit further on the used market. The same is true for the Skoda Octavia. Alternatively, a Peugeot 308 SW is a very good Golf alternative.
Answered by Andrew Brady

How can we get a good deal on a new car?

"We have a 2017 Volvo V90 D5 that has done 50,000 miles. It is bigger than we need.Given the price of second hand cars we wonder whether we should just look to get a new car (trying to negotiate a discount for cash) on the basis ours may have increased in value as well. We would then sell the V90 on through an organisation that buys cars if necessary. A mid-sized estate (such as a Golf) would suit us well. Do you have any advice on our approach and any suggestions as to what we should consider? Our budget is probably £18,000 to £20,000. Due to infirm knees we would prefer an automatic."
Getting a good deal on a new car will be the difficult bit. Used car prices are inflated because there's a shortage of new cars. A dealer will be reluctant to offer a good deal for cash - they make commission from finance sales. As a replacement for your Volvo, a Volkswagen Golf Estate sounds like a good choice. We'd also recommend a Kia Ceed Sportswagon or, if you can find one within budget, a hybrid Toyota Corolla Touring Sports. Also consider SUV alternatives like a Skoda Karoq.
Answered by Andrew Brady

Can you recommend a safe, economical car for driving in narrow lanes?

"We currently have a BMW 5 Series on a lease. We drive around town and do a 60-minute motorway commute (roundtrip) each day. We’re moving to a rural cottage down narrow country lanes, but will still be doing the commute, so thinking of swapping the lease car to something cheaper. What car is good for narrow roads in winter. i.e. not too big, but still safe, economical and good to put a dog in the back?"
How about a Volkswagen Golf Estate? It'll be spacious enough for your dog (with easy access) yet smaller (and cheaper) than your current 5 Series. Alternatively, a Honda Jazz could be a good option. It's smaller still but extremely versatile and the latest model uses a hybrid powertrain. The rugged Crosstar version might suit country life.
Answered by Andrew Brady
More Questions

What does a Volkswagen Golf Estate cost?

Buy new from £23,865(list price from £27,025)