Volkswagen’s Golf R Estate is a great combination of pace and space
The all-conquering Golf R is one of the Volkswagen’s most popular hot hatches. Here, Jack Evans tries it in more practical estate form
What is it?
The Volkswagen Golf R is known as one of the most capable, all-weather-ready hot hatches currently on sale, offering huge performance in a practical and well-built package. However, what if you need a little more space from your performance hatch? Enter the Golf R Estate. Delivering the same ferocious power as the hatchback, but allowing a little more space for luggage or larger items, means this is one performance Golf which is suited to pretty much any occasion.
The R Estate gets many of the same features that you’ll find in the regular R, including a full four-wheel-drive system, switchable driving modes and a suite of assistance systems. Our car also benefitted from the ‘Performance Pack’, which adds 19-inch ‘Spielberg’ alloy wheels, larger, brakes and silver brake calipers too.
Our test car also came with a smattering of optional extras, with features such as Dynamic Chassis Control, panoramic sunroof and key less entry (among others) helping to bump the car’s £36,125 base price up to a hefty £42,905, which is quite a lot of money – whichever way you look at it.
What’s under the bonnet?
The R Estate uses a 2.0-litre turbocharged engine for drive, here sending 306bhp and 380Nm of torque to all four wheels via a seven-speed DSG automatic gearbox. In fact, three-pedal fans need look elsewhere; the R Estate is available as an automatic and an automatic only, unfortunately.
The sprint to 60mph takes a sports car-scaring 4.6 seconds, and all-in you’ll be doing 168mph (where allowed, of course) in this Performance Pack model. Despite this performance, Volkswagen claims that the R Estate will return 39.2mpg on the combined cycle, while emitting a respectable 164g/km CO2. In reality, it did deliver on these economy claims; on a long 200-mile motorway trip we saw a steady 40mpg, showing that some performance cars can deliver efficiency and excitement in equal measure.
What’s it like to drive?
The Golf R feels like it’s prepared for every condition, and the Estate version is just the same. Be there water on the road, or bone-dry tarmac ahead of you, it’ll deliver a safe but effortless fast drive. The security the four-wheel-drive system affords you, along with the well-weighted steering and decent throttle response means that it feels accurate at all times – while throaty yet not over-the-top exhaust note reminds you that you’re not in any regular Golf.
It’s the just the sheer unflustered nature that the Golf R dispatches forward progress that impresses. There’s no drama – it just gets the job done quickly and effortlessly. For wet British B-roads there are few cars better, and you can do all this with more interior space to play with in Estate form.
How does it look?
We’d argue that the R looks even better in estate form, which seems to only increase its subtlety. You could remove the small ‘R’ badges at the rear of the car, and most people wouldn’t be able to pick it out against a normal Golf estate – save for the four large exhaust pipes sticking out at the back, of course.
It’s just as subtle up front, too. A small ‘R’ badge in the grille designates this as the high-performance Golf model, but it’s even harder to pick out since Volkswagen decided to offer ‘R-Line’ specifications on its regular Golf cars – this adds all the look of the R, but without the high-output engine. It means that the R is even harder to differentiate from the regular Golf than ever before.
What’s it like inside?
Solid, robust and logically laid out the interior of the Golf R may be, it just doesn’t inspire you in quite the way you’d expect a £40,000+ car to do. There’s certainly nothing wrong with it, it just doesn’t entirely match the invigorating performance that the R offers.
That said, the well-bolstered seats are brilliantly comfortable, while the seating position is spot-on too, with plenty of adjustability. All of the major controls are within easy reach for the drive, while the steering wheel-mounted buttons are simple to get used to. It is, all in all, a good cabin – it’s just a little too similar to a regular Golf for our liking.
What’s the spec like?
There’s plenty of standard equipment to be found in Volkswagen’s range-topping Golf, with features such as front and rear parking sensors, reversing camera and adaptive cruise control all fitted as part of the car’s base price. You also get Volkswagen’s latest Discover Navigation system, which uses an eight-inch touchscreen display to relay media and satellite navigation functions back to the driver.
Of course, that extended load area is also there. You’ve got 605 litres of boot space to use with the seats in place, rising to 1,620 with those seats folded away. It’s a decent-sized space, that’s for sure.
The Golf R Estate builds on the appeal of the regular R by offering more space and practicality without blunting any of the performance for which Volkswagen’s four-wheel-drive hot-hatch is known for. It may not be the most exciting car to sit in or look at, but you can’t fault the way it delivers the power it has at its disposal. If you’re after a car which will be capable of travelling very quickly in almost all conditions while also returning decent economy figures, then the Golf R Estate should certainly be on your list.
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