Well this is nice. The estate version of the VW Golf R is called just that - the
Golf R Estate
. No Shooting Brake, Sportbrake, ST or Sportwagon nonsense here. It's just a really big, really fast Golf, plain and simple.
Colours other than blue are available. Really
Moreover, for those buyers who actually want an estate car for, y'know, moving stuff, the Golf (nearly) rules supreme. Its boxy looks may not win it any beauty prizes but it does allow plenty of boxes to be carried. Or whatever else needs to be transported. Handy. Seats up the boot capacity is a commodious (words you never expected to read on PH #23) 605 litres. Fold them down and it's 1,620, comfortably more than a
Focus ST wagon
and Leon Cupra ST, losing out only to the Octavia vRS. It even has quite a low boot lip. All most practical.
Good, that's the Which Estate Car? section done. What about the PH bit? Well to all intents and purposes, it is fundamentally and unsurprisingly identical to the Golf R hatch. Same 300hp 2.0-litre turbo, same six-speed DSG gearbox (there isn't a manual available) plus an identical 4Motion Haldex-based 4WD system. There are changes to spring rate and dampers at the rear to allow for the extra estate weight but that's it.
So therefore it would be reasonable to expect near-as-dammit the same experience on the road. And well... it's very much the same, yes. No surprises this time unfortunately.
5.1 to 62mph in a Golf estate!
The additional weight can't entirely be escaped however. The 0-62mph time for is only two tenths down at 5.1 seconds but the edge has certainly been slightly taken off the hatchback's fairly fierce acceleration. Don't misunderstand - it's still a very fast car, but that apparently unstoppable onslaught of speed isn't quite there.
The characteristics of course are very similar though. With 280lb ft from 2,200rpm to 5,500rpm, the Golf R estate is a consummate overtaker. It will be terrifically useful for moving lots of stuff very swiftly with minimal effort. A good getaway car perhaps... Anyway, it means slower cars can be comfortably passed on the Ronda road and some spectacular tarmac enjoyed.
Burden of expectation
As in a straight line, the Golf R Estate in corners against the hatch is a bit like the difference between DVD and Blu-Ray. The experience is fundamentally the same but certain aspect are more vivid, slightly sharper. The estate remains very good, and that rather outdated analogy sells its abilities short, but the hatch is simply that bit better. It's keener to turn in, grips a little more tightly and responds to each input a fraction more willingly.
More at home here than you might expect
Not far from the Ronda road is the Ascari track. Because where better to launch an estate car? All those sales are clearly boosting the VW PR budget too...
Having proudly declared the ESC is fully switchable in the press briefing, all track drives were to be conducted in the ESC Sport mode. Well they were meant to be. Isn't it awful when your finger slips and can't be lifted from a button?
Of course the Golf R isn't some hooligan Nissan Stagea 4WD drift wagon. But it's certainly willing to swing that big boot with some provocation and ESC off certainly appears off. It remains very much a front-biased 4WD system but it's far more fun than you would credit a fast Golf estate with being.
Essentially then for those people who like the Golf R - and it appears many do - then the Estate will most certainly appeal. It's only £695 more than the equivalent five-door DSG hatch and will surely be less ubiquitous. There's something appealingly unpretentious about it being just an estate too. However, it's hard to recommend the Golf over its MQB-based rivals. The Leon Cupra estate is more exciting to drive (and 108kg lighter), arguably better looking, very nearly as practical and £3,500 cheaper. Ignoring that benchmark sprint time it feels just as fast on the road too. The Octavia vRS has greater carrying capacity than the Golf and now boasts the VAQ locking differential in vRS 230 form. However the Golf has that undeniable badge allure and the 4WD kudos. Talented rivals both the Skoda and SEAT may be, but which do you expect will sell more out of the three? Exactly.
VOLKSWAGEN GOLF R ESTATE
Engine: 1,984cc 4-cyl turbo
Transmission: 6-speed dual-clutch auto (DSG), 4-wheel drive
Power (hp): 300@5,500rpm
Torque (lb ft): 280@1,800-5,500rpm
Top speed: 155mph
MPG: 40.4 (NEDC combined)