The VW Golf Estate has always felt like something of an afterthought in the Golf range; a five-door hatchback with an extra bit grafted on the end.

For the Mk7, however, VW say the Golf Estate was engineered as a model in its own right, an advantage of the company’s new modular MQB platform.

This approach allowed the designers to create a more unified shape.  The trademark kink in the C-pillar of the hatchback has been transferred to the D-pillar of the estate, and the rear doors have been redesigned to allow the shape of the side window line to flow more cohesively.

Compared to the Mk6 Estate, the Mk7 is 28mm longer, 18mm wider, yet 23mm lower, and with a 57mm longer wheelbase.  Against the current Golf hatchback, though, it’s 307mm longer overall, with most of those extra millimetres being exactly where you need them in an estate – at the back.

With the rear seats in place, cargo capacity is measured at 605 litres, compared to the hatchback’s 380 litres.  Fold the rear seats of the hatchback and that rises to 1,270.  Do the same in the estate, a process made easy by a pair of levers at the side of the cargo bay that drop the seat backs, and total capacity rises to 1,620 litres.  The seats don’t fold completely flat, however.

Thanks to the extra bodywork, loads of up to 1,831mm in length can be carried, although this can be increased further to 2,671mm with the optional folding front passenger seat.

Wheel-arch intrusion has been kept to a minimum, thankfully, so even wide loads can be easily accommodated, and the larger boot aperture makes loading easy.

There’s a handy underfloor storage area for goodies you’d rather keep out of sight, and this incorporates a place to stow the retractable cargo cover when it’s not in use.  Alternatively, the boot floor can be lowered when maximum height (936mm) is required.

If you’re carrying people rather than cargo, they’ll be pleased to discover there’s room in practically every direction.  The seats have been redesigned, too, and are now more supportive and adjustable.

The Golf Estate is available with a typically wide range of engines, although the options can be narrowed by the chosen trim level.

For instance, the entry-level S model is available with a 1.2-litre petrol unit with either 85PS or 105PS, a 1.4-litre with 122PS, or a 1.6-litre diesel with 90PS or 105PS.

The mid-range SE shares the same 122PS 1.4 petrol and 105PS 1.6 diesel, but adds a more useful 150PS 2.0-litre diesel that’s also available in the top-spec GT.

The GT is unfortunately the only home for the 140PS 1.4-litre petrol, an engine we think is likely to prove to be the pick of the bunch, with its 0-62mph time of 8.9 seconds, 53.3 mpg on the combined cycle, and CO2 emissions of 121 g/km (116 g/km with the optional DSG transmission).

The base engines make do with a five-speed manual gearbox, while the others have six cogs to choose from, plus the option of a seven-speed DSG dual clutch gearbox in all but the 2.0-litre 150PS diesel which uses the previous-generation six-speed DSG due to its 320Nm of torque.

However, even the thirstiest engine in the range can record just the other side of 50 mpg, and none pays more than £105 for a year’s road tax.

VW now rather confusingly applies a BlueMotion Technology badge to all Golf Estate models as a way of depicting the presence of start/stop and brake energy recuperation systems that are now standard across the range.

This leads to some confusion with the full BlueMotion model which is set to arrive later this year.  This more environmentally-focused model is powered by a 1.6-litre diesel engine developing 110PS, mated to a six-speed manual gearbox.  It is expected to achieve 85.6 mpg on the combined cycle and emit just 87 g/km of CO2.

From behind the wheel, there’s little to remind you that you’re not driving the hatchback beyond a glance in the rear-view mirror.  There’s no detectable increase in body roll, although one would reasonably expect this to change when carrying a load.  The ride remains comfortable and well damped, and there’s certainly nothing in the way of penalty for choosing the longer estate over its shorter hatchback brothers.

Kit levels are respectable rather than overly generous, with all models benefitting from remote locking, electronic parking brake, front centre armrest, height and reach adjustable steering wheel, 5.8-inch touch-screen media system with Bluetooth connectivity, electric windows, semi-automatic climate control and automatic post-collision braking system.

SE models add automatic headlights and wipers, alloy wheels, and cruise control, plus a range of safety systems: driver alert attempts to spot a drop in driver concentration levels by analysing driving style; automatic distance control maintains a pre-set distance from the vehicle in front, braking and accelerating as necessary; city emergency braking operates at speeds below 18 mph and can apply hard braking to reduce the severity of an impact.

Range-topping GT models receive front fog lights with cornering function, red rear light clusters, sports suspension with 10mm lower ride height, rear privacy glass, chrome trim, front sports seats with part-Alcantara, multi-function steering wheel, satellite navigation, ambient interior lighting, folding door mirrors, and front and rear parking sensors.

The estate wears a £765 premium over the hatchback, with pricing starting at £17,915 for the 85PS 1.2 TSI S, with the more interesting 1.4-litre 140PS GT pegged at £23,935.  With many of the more popular models priced in the £22,000 – £25,000 range, the Golf finds itself perilously close to Passat Estate territory.

What’s perhaps more surprising, however, is that the Golf appears to offer the better overall package.

Entry-level Price £18,175 Price as tested £24,195
Engine 4-cylinder turbo, 1395cc Transmission Six-speed manual
Power 140ps @ 4,500rpm Torque 250Nm @ 1,500rpm
0-62mph 8.9 secs Top speed 132 mph
Economy 53.3 mpg CO2 121 g/km
Dimensions 4562 x 2027 x 1481 (LWH) Kerb Weight 1436 kg