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VW Golf SV review

The Good

  • Practical design

The Bad

  • Others offer better value for money
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VW has revealed its second attempt at a multi-purpose vehicle. Out goes the Golf Plus and in comes the Golf SV, aka the Golf Sportwagon. Ben Griffin hit the green streets of the Cotswolds in South West England to find out whether this plus-size vee-dub is any good. 

Design

While the Golf Plus was somewhat hamstrung by its underpinnings — like an elephant balancing on a beachball — the Golf SV is able to stretch its legs. It uses VW’s flexible MQB underpinnings, which can be adapted for a variety of vehicle types — big and small.

The Golf SV is 134mm longer than the Golf Plus. It’s also 83mm longer than the standard Golf, 83mm wider and has a 48mm longer wheelbase. Think of it as a rival to the Ford C-Max or BMW 2 Series Active Tourer, and you’ll be on the right track. 

It would be mean to call it ugly but mean we must be because it looks, frankly, ugly compared with the standard Golf, or the (admittedly pricier) 2 Series Active Tourer.

The interior is functional but a bit drab. Spend anytime in one of the new breed of funky superminis, complete with their bright colours and funky design, and the Golf SV will feel especially boring. At least the front and rear seats are comfortable.

Aesthetics were undoubtedly low on the VW list of objectives, anyway, and rightly so. Who cares about style when their youngest child is painting the seats a new shade of beige after eating a McDonalds too quickly. The Golf SV is built to survive family life, not wow your friends – a task it does well.

Practicality

The Golf SV is spacious. Rear legroom and headroom is enough for all but the tallest adults. The rear seat bench slides forward by up to 180mm, meaning boot space of between 500 and 590 litres, depending on position.

Fold the seats down and you’ll have 1,520 litres of room. You can even fold the front passenger seat forward for a maximum load space of 2,484mm, which is handy for really long items. There are other useful additions like large storage bins and, depending on the spec, additional cubby holes. You also get rear seats that  can be split in a 40:20:40 ratio.

A full-on MPV like the Ford C-Max is more practical, but the Golf SV manages to tread a fine line between versatility and hatchback looks.

Performance & handling

The driving position is 59mm higher than in the Golf hatchback so there’s a more commanding feel without being too van-like. The drive itself is ‘like a Golf’, only heavier, which means it is smooth and predictable, if uninspiring. It can handle corners without drama and soaks up bumps well. 

To be fair, the cheap and cheerful volume seller 1.6-litre diesel was never going set our world on fire but it pulls hard enough for overtaking, it’s quiet enough when you take it steady and cruises ably well on motorways.

0 to 62mph comes in 11.3 seconds and the top speed is 119mph. Torque is 250Nm (184lb/ft) from 1,500rpm, hence the engine always feels strong when pulling away at low speeds. Peak power, rated at 110PS occurrs between 3,200 and 4,000rpm. 

Economy & environment

The VW Golf SV’s 1.6-litre TDI has CO2 emissions of 101g/km so it narrowly misses out on being tax exempt. It is, however, still going to be cheap to tax and with a combined cycle of 72.4mpg, it will be cheap to run. 

The inclusion of BlueMotion technology on all Golf SV models is a big help as it includes stop/start for saving fuel in busy traffic conditions and brake energy recuperation so the battery gets a bit of help recharging every time you slow down, saving yet more liquid gold.

Equipment & value

You get a fair bit of equipment as standard on the Golf SV, including a 5.8-inch touchscreen that has built-in Bluetooth connectivity for a smartphone or tablet. There’s also DAB digital radio, air conditioning, front centre arm rest and Isofix for two rear seats so you can safely add a pair of child seats. 

Our Golf SV came with the entry-level S trim, which adds a height and reach adjustable steering wheel, 15-inch Steel wheels, black roof rails, child locks in the rear doors, front and rear electric windows, electrically heated and adjustable door mirrors and a tailgate with integrated roof spoiler. 

The Tungsten Silver paintjob and Titan Black upholstery was an extra £550. Navigation is an additional £750. SE spec adds larger alloys and adaptive cruise control, the latter being very useful if you do a lot of motorway miles. 

Above the BlueMotion model is GT. Although we were unable to drive a Golf SV with this particular trim level, we have seen reports the included sports suspension rides unnecessarily harshly so it’s probably worth giving a wide berth.

The 1.6-litre S is affordable, but could be a tad better value. The Ford C-Max, for instance, can be had in its top-spec X form with a 1.6TDCi diesel for around the same price as our test vehicle and that includes a panoramic sunroof, partial leather seats and automatic bi-xenon headlights.

Safety

The VW Golf is a safe car so it’s hardly surprising the SV is a better place than most in the event of a crash. It has automatic post-collision braking so the anchors come on during an accident to reduce the chance of a second collision. There are airbags and curtain airbags in the front and rear. Adding to the reassurance factor is a full five-star Euro NCAP rating.

Verdict

A large, fat VW Golf sounds really unappealing but there’s enough of a whiff of the original hatchback in here to make the far more practical Golf SV worthy of consideration. It has oodles of space and the ability to move the rear bench forward and back, depending on whether you want legroom or boot space, is testament to its versatility.

Unfortunately for VW, the bigger Ford C-Max is a better drive, more practical and offers superior value for money. Those who crave VW build quality and practicality, then, will get what they want with the Golf SV. Just expect to have less money left over to get the rear seats cleaned.

Specification

Price£22,185

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