What Has Brought Me Here
Having owned a BMW E92 330i (272) for just over 5 years, my journey into Golf R Estate ownership began last summer. With a young family, the 2 door coupe was beginning to take its toll on my back (negotiating a toddler into a car seat) and a week long trip away as a family really stretched how much could be crammed into a 5-door Golf MKVII SE 1.4 TSI (wife's car). I therefore went in search of a replacement for the BMW.
Initially I went down the route of SUV's, in particular I love the X5 - in xDrive 40d M Sport trim. I then realised after doing a speculative insurance quote that I would have to rule those out - could not believe how much more expensive it was compared to my 330i for what is a slower, less sporty car. Even in ‘poverty spec’ xDrive 25d (2 wheel drive only) insurance was significantly more than I was used to. I think it must be to do with thefts, damage and write-offs of X5's compared to the relatively few 330i's there are (only saw 1 other in my 5 years of ownership). Add in maintenance on such a car, it became a lost cause, especially as I would be buying out of warranty.
My list expanded to include X3's, Q5's, Land Rover Discovery Sport...same conclusion mostly very expensive to insure (and at least 3-4 years old with 40,000 miles in my budget). So I started to look at the less premium alternatives: Skoda Kodiaq, Volkswagen Tiguan, Volkswagen Touareg and a few estates: Audi A6 Avant, Skoda Octavia, Skoda Superb. A6 and Touareg aside, all of these were very cheap to insure and within budget.
Through this journey I realised that all the spec's I was interested in were the high performance engines: Audi A6 would have to be 3.0 TDI Bi-Turbo, Skoda Octavia would have to be vRS etc. In the end my criteria were: must be fast, must still be within budget and must have a big luggage capacity. As is almost always the case, ‘2 out of 3 aint bad’ and I found with many cars I considered that was the case. I could get fast SUV’s with big luggage capacity but were way out of budget; or I could have within budget with big luggage capacity but wouldn’t be fast.
I had an inkling that I wouldn’t be satisfied unless whatever replaced my 330i was at least as fast and enjoyable to drive. I had almost resigned myself however to a Skoda estate (vRS Octavia TSI or 280 4x4 Superb) or a Tiguan. None of these options really made me excited – get the job done space and budget? Yes, absolutely. Fast enough? Yes, absolutely. But deep down I thought of either of those cars as a bit of a compromise.
Enter Golf R Estate
I stumbled upon the Golf R Estate early on but initially wrote it off as ‘it was a Golf, they are everywhere, my wife has a Golf, I don’t want a blinking Golf!’. After the remainder of my research brought me to the conclusion of compromise however, I took another look at the Golf R Estate.
Whichever article I read (I can’t remember exactly), had a photo of the MK7.5 and I thought it looked much nicer than any previous version. The 0-60 time that started with a 4 instead of a 5, 6, 7, 8 or 9 caught my attention too. How often will I be doing 0-60 dashes where that time even matters? Probably never but as a stat it satisfied me. I checked the luggage capacity: >600 litres. Impressive. Almost as big as an Octavia Estate and larger than any of the premium German estates. Last check, insurance. Would this put an end to things? The anticipation of waiting for the first quotes to come up on Confused.com was agonising. Finally, the quotes appeared and to my amazement, they were half the price I paid for my 330i. Half. Could. Not. Believe. It. Ssshh, don’t tell anyone!
In December 2017 there was a great lease deal on a Golf R Estate. Now I did not set out to buy a Golf, nor did I set out to buy a new car. The lease seemed to be very good value though so I done a few sums and came to the conclusion that in my circumstances it made a lot of sense to buy new.
Now, I know car finance is very personal and what works for me would not necessarily work for someone else – I am not here to tell everyone to lease their car. All I would say is even if I had the money to buy a new car (any new car) in cash, I would lease it. A good friend of mine who always leases cars (albeit for business) put it like this and I am now converted to it: “lease what depreciates, buy what appreciates”.
So I picked my options: Black Mirrors & Roof Rails, Black Pretoria Wheels, Turmeric Yellow paint, sought out the best deal and asked my local VW dealer if they could match it. They came very close and it made a lot of sense to go through them. Order placed mid-December, March 2018 delivery.
You would think that when given the choice, one of the best parts about buying a new car is picking the colour. I found this a really difficult thing to do. To date, I have only ever had black or white cars. I was interested in exploring alternatives. In the end I decided on Turmeric Yellow having never seen it in the flesh or in estate form. At least I knew it would break up ‘the various shades of mizzle’ as I have heard modern car colours described as somewhere else on this forum.
Pretoria wheels in black, mirrors in black and roof rails in black were my only real essentials. I considered the sunroof (mainly for looks) but couldn’t justify the price. I considered DCC but decided having never had this or an equivalent and always driven cars with sports suspension, I did not need it.
I would have liked a ‘start/stop’ button and would have considered keyless entry to get it, had I known the button only came with that pack and was not standard equipment. My well-spec’d 10 year old BMW has me spoiled I guess (along with headlight assistant, I may miss that).
Waiting seemed to take forever. Then finally, my car arrived at the dealer. I then got some bad news…the car had been damaged in transit. I was gutted. I now realise how often this happens but in my head I pictured my new car taken care of on every leg of its journey. Let’s face it though, that is a fantasy.
So I asked for a photo of the damage (which had already been approved for repair by VWFS) and took a day to decide what to do. I could get it repaired but risk it not being a good job (re-spray on a brand new car was not a great idea in my mind) or reject the car but have no guarantee that the same deal would be honoured (since VWFS, having assessed the damage were happy to repair it).
In the end I decided to get it repaired. Here is a photo of the damage:
3 Weeks Later
Prior to delivery I had arranged that the dealer would not prep the car, in fact I wanted it left in all transit wrap so it could be taken straight to the detailer. They agreed but informed me that due to the repair, transit wrap had to come off so they could check over the rest of the car. I was content with this.
I picked the car up from the dealer on Monday. They showed me where the repair was done, it looked flawless, really impressive. So I agreed to take the car on the basis if the detailer or I spotted anything peculiar later on I could bring it back.
I brought my stamped plates with me for them to fit – mounted in a surround on the rear and stuck on the front. I wasn’t sure how surrounds would look but I like them on A-Class etc. so wanted to check. On front it was just too chunky because of the OEM number plate holder. On the rear, I think looks ok. The salesperson got me to sign last bits of paperwork, showed me the basics of the infotainment, round the car etc. and gave me the keys.
Due to the damage and subsequent delay, I managed to negotiate a full tank of Super Unleaded and a boot liner. I also asked for a set of Black 18” Pretoria Wheels with winter tyres thrown in but they didn’t deem that reasonable. Worth asking!
The next stage was drive 1.5 miles through rush hour to the detailer in a brand new car. This, I do not recommend to anyone. It was really painful watching people dart in and out of their lane and lane hop on the roundabout. But I made it in one piece.
Day of pick up photos:
Pick up from detailer
I had arranged for Gtechniq CSL+EXO, wheels off and C5 applied, G1 on the glass, C4 on all rubber/plastic trim and I1 on the interior. This was expensive but I hope, worth it for easy maintenance and the car looks stunning. The detailer had to do quite a bit of correction. First of all, there was a lot of fall out on the car (iron, tar, glue, bird poo etc.) that had to be removed. Next, they done paint correction which he said was quite a lot and not just on the area that was repaired. Finally CSL was applied, topped with 2 coats of EXO.
They told me the drive side front wheel was loose before they removed it. That is a bit shocking really since the car was PDI’d.
Here are some post-detail shots inside and out:
Break the car in – 1,500 miles of slow revving, patience and getting to know the car. Fine-tuning the seat position, mirrors, infotainment and many other options. Fit Windesa/Sonniboy sunshade blinds (dual purpose: protects toddler’s eyes from the sun and looks like 90% tints).
I am confident that I have made the right decision. I certainly think it will be faster than my 330i and more stable with 4Motion vs. RWD but will it be as fun? That remains to be seen.
I said earlier that ‘2 out of 3 aint bad’, well with the Golf R Estate I believe you can satisfy all three: fast, affordable, big luggage capacity. My dream ‘family car’ would be an RS6 but that isn’t going to happen any time soon (and realistically never) but I can’t think of any other cars that are close to either the Golf R Estate or RS6 at either end of that budget spectrum or in between.