The Volkswagen Golf has become as much a part of UK motoring life as double-decker buses and lollipop ladies. Which is hardly surprising when you learn that over the last 43 years one has been emerging from a VW factory somewhere in the world every 40 seconds.
Estates models, while still remaining popular despite the massive rise of the SUV, only account for around 10 per cent of Golf sales which is surprising given the benefits you get.
The latest generation estate, which arrived in the UK in March, is very similar in appearance to its bigger brother the Passat estate and is certainly a class act.
It comes with changes to both the interior and exterior, but perhaps the biggest surprise is that the new range is, on average, £650 cheaper than its predecessor with estate prices starting from £19.470 for the 1.0-litre model.
Externally the most obvious changes are the new front and rear bumpers with the addition of smart new LED daytime running lights as well as full LED rear lights.
Revised air cooling intakes at the sides of the front bumper also give the car a much sharper look at the nose. Step inside and you find an interior with a new range of door and dashboard trim panels as well as the introduction of gesture control - similar to that used on an iPad - on the new 8-inch touch screen which makes it easier and quicker to use.
The same screen is also used for the satellite navigation system which, in this case, is preloaded with full European navigation data.
And while on the subject of the touch screen, this is one of the best I have come across for clarity when used for reversing via the rear view camera.
Cleverly VW tuck the camera away beneath the chrome boot badge/handle which lifts up when you put the gear shift into reverse. That way the lens never gets dirty.
On the road the new, impressively torquey 2.0-litre Golf estate with its seven-speed DSG gearbox is a real delight. It might be aimed at people who need that extra luggage space but that doesn’t stop it being a cracking drive.
Under everyday motoring conditions most people leave the gear shift in normal drive mode but when you want to press on a quick pull on the shift to engage sport and this estate really delivers with a surprising amount of urgency.
Alternatively paddles behind the steering wheel allow you to quickly drop a couple of gears if you need a bit more zip to get round another car before changing back up the box and letting the auto system take over again.
Unlike on some cars which offer paddles the whole operation on the Golf is so slick it positively encourages you to use them for more enjoyable driving.
This model offers the option of changing the car’s set up to suit your mood or driving style with a choice of Eco, Normal, Sport or even factoring in your own personal settings.
It’s also packed with a whole raft of features to keep you safe as well as improve your time behind the wheel, including a radar sensor-controlled distance monitoring system, automatic mainbeam/dipped headlights and predictive pedestrian protection.
And in addition to the generous luggage area with its 60/40 folding rear seat backs there are numerous other on-board compartments including drawers beneath the two front sports seats.
The Golf in estate and hatch might have been around for some years now but you will go a long way to find a car which has evolved so successfully.
Model: Volkswagen Golf Estate GT
Mechanical: 1968cc, 150 bhp 4 cylinder diesel engine driving front wheels via 7-speed automatic DSG gearbox.
Max speed: 134 mph
0-62mph: 8.9 secs
Combined mpg: 65.7
CO2 emissions: 120 g/km
Warranty: 3 years/60,000 miles