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On-test: Fun practicality offered by new VW Golf estate

If you are hankering after a four-wheel drive estate car which packs a punch, then the load-lugging version of VW’s Golf R is one which you should put at the top of your wish-list. Geoff Ashcroft takes it for a spin.

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Optional 19in alloy wheels suit the Golf R’s proportions, but cost an additional £990.
Optional 19in alloy wheels suit the Golf R’s proportions, but cost an additional £990.

Powered by a 300hp four-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine mated to a six-speed DSG transmission, this speedy load-lugger provides immense traction through all-wheel drive and offers a practical 1,620-litres of load space with the rear seats down.

 

The car feels narrow, agile and light, though you are aware of its length.

 

While the engine delivers a gutsy performance, thanks to a huge surge of torque, the four-pot engine does make an odd noise.

Two-tone trim lifts the Golf R’s dark interior.

With launch control too, electronic trickery can propel the R to 62mph in just 5.1 seconds. Though the sound does not match the delivery, and at times, the R makes itself too well known and can sound rough. Part of the charm? Maybe.

 

Front seats are very supportive and deep bolsters on the seat base and backrest keep you secured when enjoying those long sweeping bends in the road. Seats do lack adjustment, and the interior does serve up far too much plastic for a range-topping estate.

 

Blue needles add to the sporty feel and adjustable, ambient lighting does its bit to lift a dark cabin at night, though this classy touch is only installed in the front of the car. Those sat on the rear seats are plunged into darkness.

Load space is generous and easily accessible.

Firm suspension adds to the sure-footedness and traction is never in doubt on the black stuff, though dynamic chassis control offers some adjustment. Low ground clearance might have you wincing if you try to negotiate anything other than a smooth road though. It sits 20mm lower than a regular Golf estate and could lead to trouble on farm tracks.

 

Cleverly, drive to the rear axle de-couples when coasting or under light throttle to help with fuel efficiency, subtly transforming the R into a front-wheel driver until you ask it to unleash the demons. And despite my heavy right foot, the R returned an impressive 36mpg, which made the performance and practicality all the more enjoyable.

Need to know

  • Model: Golf R Estate
  • Price: £33,085 (£39,091 as tested)
  • Engine: 2.0-litre, four-cylinder turbo petrol, 300hp @ 5,500-6,200rpm, 380Nm @ 1,800-5,500rpm
  • Transmission: Six-speed DSG, four-wheel drive
  • Performance: 5.1sec 0-62mph, 155mph, 40.4mpg combined, 162g/km
  • Towing capacity: 1,500kgs
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