The Golf Plus was exactly what its title suggested, a Golf with more room.
Its replacement the new Golf SV is not quite as obvious. The use of the SV title is confusing, it’s short for Sport Van in Europe but in the UK it’s not deemed either ‘sport’ or a ‘van’ so hence the use of the less obvious letters.
Prices for the five door, five seater roomier Golf SV start at £18,875 for the 1.2 TSI petrol 85hp S version but the same powered, same trim Golf five door hatchback costs £17,630. The Golf SV is also larger in size, it’s a shade longer, a little wider, has more rear legroom and in particular more headroom than the Golf five door Hatchback. If you like the latest Golf you should like the SV version although its boxy styling makes it look less athletic and a little boring. It portrays use as a family bus, not as extreme perhaps as a full-blown MPV but on the plus side its driving manners and road holding performance are far more car-like although it lacks the practicality of a proper people-carrier.
I briefly tried the Golf SV earlier this year at the media launch when the verdict was ‘It’s a Golf’ but with a bit more space for a lot more money. Now I have had a longer spell finding out if it is easy to live with the 1.6-litre TDI 110hp model with SE specification. This is the likely most popular model for family users or company car drivers who need to have space for goods as well as for family time, especially if the children are growing up. This version is priced at £22,585 against the Golf 5-Door Hatchback SE with a 105hppower output engine which costs £21,190.
If size matters the following figures will be of interest. At 4,338mm in length, the SV is 134mm longer than the Golf Plus and 83mm longer than the Golf five door hatchback. It has a wheelbase length of 2,685mm which is 48mm longer than that of the Golf even though they both use VW’s latest MQB platform. The SV is also 81mm wider and 126mm taller than the Golf Hatchback.
What this all means is more all-round interior space particularly in the rear although the extra width is welcome front and rear. The rear seats have a 40-20-40 split bench layout that can slide forwards or backwards by up to 180mm to increase either passenger or luggage space as required. Compared to the Golf Plus, the new SV has a boot which is 76-litres larger giving 500-litres of space with the rear seats in their rear-most position. Move the rear seats forward and this space increases to 590-litres and folding down the rear seats gives up to 1,520-litres of cargo capacity. The front passenger seat can also be folded fully forward (this function is an option) creating a load carrying length of up to 2,484mm.
My wife who is used to me owning several cars of different designs over many years and testing all types of models rarely comments about test cars but on this occasion thought the Golf SV looked boring from the outside and not helped by the dark grey paintwork. But adding that feminine thought she could see the advantage of the extra interior rear space which would be especially suitable for loading young children into their child-seats.
The levels of specification available, depending on the engine chosen are S, SE, GT and BlueMotion. Petrol engine choices are 1.2 TSI 85hp and 110hp, 1.4-litre TSI 125hp and 145hp whilst turbodiesel options are 1.6-litre 90 and 110hp and 2.0-litre 150hp. Five and six speed manual gearboxes and six and seven speed DSG auto gearboxes are available for most engine options in the range adding to the functional vehicle’s appeal.
Standard on all models from SE above is Driver Profile Selection. This allows customers to select a performance setting to match their desired driving style. The modes are Eco, Sport, Normal and Individual. Each of these settings alters to throttle mapping and engine management and includes steering assistance. A fifth mode – Comfort – is available where the optional Dynamic Chassis Control is specified.
Standard equipment on all SVs includes a 5.8-inch touchscreen, electronic parking brake with auto-hold function, Bluetooth, media connection, DAB digital radio, post collision automatic braking, air conditioning, height adjustable front passenger and driver’s seats and Isofix seat preparation for two rear child seats. In addition to electrically operated windows and door mirrors SE trim adds adaptive cruise control, multifunction computer, folding tables on the rear of the front seats, leather trimmed multifunction steering wheel, alarm, driver alerts, rain sensing wipers and auto lights, 16-inch alloy wheels and a spare wheel.
So the Golf SV gives you space and a fair level of equipment and it also gives you that excellent Golf driving character. It is one of the best handling, if not the best, in the C-segment. The car is well balanced with a flat and level ride and supported by a compliant suspension giving a comfortable ride. Cornering body roll is almost non-existent and there is lots of grip from the front wheels during cornering. It is total proficient and trustworthy – just like a Golf Hatchback which is generally regarded as the best or close to it in the C-segment with only the Ford Focus matching its handling performance.
I look at the Golf SV as a sort of halfway house between a family hatchback such as the Golf/Focus and a conventional mid-sized MPV such as the highly rated Citroen Picasso.
The 1.6-litre TDI turbocharged four cylinder diesel engine has a power output of 110hp with a healthy punch of torque of 250Nm (184lb ft) delivered from just 1,500rpm. This delivery of ‘grunt’ from low revs makes it very flexible at low speeds and responsive when accelerating through the mid-range but the engine tone was course under hard acceleration. Drive to the front wheels is through a five-speed manual gearbox but it is a shame that a six-speed unit is not fitted as this would lower engine noise at legal motorway cruising speeds and it would help high speed cruising fuel economy. Top speed is 119mph and zero to 62mph takes 11.3 seconds.
On test the overall average figure was 53.3mpg but during cruising on motorways this increased to 62mpg. Just how much better would a six-speed gearbox be for open road cruising for quieter and more fuel efficient performance?
Officially this version of the Golf SV will return 72.4mpg in the Combined Cycle with CO2 emissions of 101g/km so VED road tax is £0 for the First Year rate and £20 for Year Two onwards. Company car drivers will pay 16% Benefit-in-Kind tax. As for insurance this version is rated at 11E.
After a week of real-life use my conclusion about the new Golf SV is that it is very functional, it handles well with no vices and it is cheap to run if not to buy. It just lacks charisma and to some extent pride of ownership.
MILESTONES: Volkswagen Golf SV 1.6-litre TDI 110hp 5-speed manual. (Likely best selling model). Price: £22,585. Engine/transmission: 1.6-litre, 4-cylinder, turbodiesel, 110hp, 250Nm (184lb ft) of torque from 1,500rpm, 5-speed manual. Performance: 119mph, 0-62mph 11.3 seconds, 72.4mpg Combined Cycle (53.3mpg on test), CO2 101g/km, VED road tax £0 First Year rate then £20 Year Two onwards, BIK company car tax 16%. Insurance group: 11E. Warranty: 3-years/60,000-miles. Dimensions/capacities: L 4,338mm, W 1,807mm, H 1,578mm, boot/load space 500 to 1,520-litres, 5-doors, 5-seats. For: It’s just like a Golf Hatchback only more spacious, high quality interior, cheap to run, compliant comfortable ride, easy and good to drive. Against: Pricey to buy and not as versatile as other C-segment MPVs, needs a 6-speed gearbox to reduce motorway cruising speed engine noise and to improve fuel economy, bland exterior styling. Miles Better News agency