THE Volkswagen Golf has been a benchmark model in its class for 45 years - gaining a reputation as the quality choice in the hatchback market against which rivals are frequently judged.
For those who need a bit more space, the Golf Estate has been offering similar attributes, but with a bigger boot, for 25 of those years and is a capable compact family wagon well worth consideration.
In typical VW fashion, the clean, crisp lines are stylish and modern but in an understated way - although the Estate is clearly identifiable as a member of the Golf family, being pretty much identical from the front.
Four trim levels are variously available with an array of the VW Group's proven petrol and diesel engines, paired with either five or six-speed manual transmissions or the smooth seven-speed automatic that our test car featured.
In this case it was mated to a turbocharged 1.5-litre EVO petrol power-pack, which cleverly saves fuel by automatically deactivating two of its four cylinders when less power is needed.
This doesn't come at the expense of performance, though, with this powertrain capable of shifting the Golf Estate from 0-62mph in a very respectable 8.7 seconds and on to a top speed of 135mph.
With a claimed 43.5 miles per gallon under new, more realistic, fuel consumption tests this is a good choice for those who don't clock up heavy mileage as it's more responsive and refined than the more economical diesels.
In fact, it's pretty refined by any standards, with little engine, road or wind noise evident in the cabin, and also offers a driving experience which, although not overly sporty, is not that far removed from the hatchback, despite the estate's stretched dimensions.
There's plenty of grip on offer and, while the supple suspension offers a comfortable ride over our pock-marked roads, the body remains well controlled and flat through corners, even when pushing on a little. The steering is well-weighted and this feels a pretty nimble, well-balanced motor for an estate.
As well as comfort, the interior offers the standard of finish we've come to expect of Volkswagen, with plenty of soft-touch materials, as well as plenty of space for passengers front and rear.
With only a small transmission tunnel to negotiate and decent head and leg room, three adults will be okay in the back on short journeys and kids should be able to get comfortable for most trips.
At 605 litres, the boot offers all the space you expect of a small estate car, which is easy to use thanks to its boxy shape and a load lip that is flat and fairly low to the ground.
Load capacity rises to a capacious 1,620 litres if you fold down the 60/40 split rear seats, which also feature a load-through ‘ski hatch' to accommodate long narrow items.
Add to this an abundance of usable storage cubbies and cup holders around the cabin and you have a practical, fairly versatile and comfortable travelling environment which comes well enough equipped to cater for most family needs.
All cars get electric windows all-round, air conditioning, an eight-inch touchscreen multimedia system, DAB radio, Bluetooth and automatic emergency braking.
Our GT spec car, sitting beneath the 155mph performance-focused Golf Estate R range-topper, additionally gets alloy wheels, sports suspension, navigation, sports front seats and rear privacy glass.
Typically of VW, some niceties offered as standard elsewhere are only available as options, including heated seats and a reversing camera, but they're nice-to-have rather than essential and many buyers, if not prepared to shell out the extra, will be happy to forego them for the desirable VW badge.