As an all-rounder the Volkswagen Golf has every base covered. It’s practical, economical and refined, hence 59,051 examples were sold in the UK alone last year. In comparison, the larger and now redundant Volkswagen Golf Plus only sold 1,672 units in the same period, so you have to ask the question: is there really a market for a larger and more practical Golf? Volkswagen thinks so and this time around it’s called the Golf Sportsvan (SV).
It’s bigger, lighter and more economical than the model it replaces. The exterior design isn’t what you’d call adventurous, but the sharp edges and prominent crease along the flanks do help the Golf Sportsvan neatly disguise its inflated proportions.
At 4,338mm in length, the Volkswagen Golf SV is 134mm longer than the old Golf Plus and 83mm longer than the standard Golf hatch on which it’s based. It’s also wider and taller than the standard model by 81mm and 126mm respectively, meaning more passenger and luggage space inside.
A cavernous 500-litre boot is 76-litres bigger than the old Golf Plus and has a 121-litre advantage over the Volkswagen Golf hatchback. It’s also a slightly larger offering than you’ll find in the Ford C-MAX, although the Citroen C4 Picasso still trumps the Sportsvan with 537 litres. However, slide the rear seats forwards and a further 90-litres can be liberated in the Golf Sportsvan – fold them down and space increases to 1,520-litres.
Elsewhere inside, with the exception of a few more capacious cubby holes, there’s very little separating the Volkswagen Golf Sportvan from the hatch. The dash, centre console and instrument binnacle are near identical and build quality is robust enough to handle the worst a family can hurl at it.
The Volkswagen Golf hatch's DNA extends to the mechanics of the Sportsvan, too. It rides on the same modular MQB platform as the hatch, so gets the same family of engines. Our test car was fitted with the most powerful diesel engine on offer the 148bhp 2.0 TDI, connected to a six-speed DSG gearbox. And for comfortably transporting five people and all of their luggage, it does a fine job.
It’s punchy throughout the rev range and the smooth DSG gearbox shuffles through the ratios with little fuss. Economy, at just under 59mpg, is also impressive but for those who like to keep a close eye on running costs, Volkswagen also offers a fuel-sipping 1.6-litre diesel Bluemotion model capable of 76.3mpg and tax-free emissions of 95g/km of CO2 – making it the most efficient MPV in its class.
Other engine options include an 84bhp or 109bhp 1.2-litre turbocharged petrol plus a more powerful 1.4-litre turbo petrol engine in two states of tune – 123bhp or 148bhp. For a premium of around £1,400 the automatic DSG gearbox is available as an option available across the range with the exception of the entry-level petrol motor.
As the Volkswagen Golf Sportsvan shares so much of its running gear with the hatchback model, the two are very similar match on the road. The steering is sharp and precise and the ride quality hasn’t suffered despite the added mass. The only real noticeable difference in the Golf Sportsvan is the slight increase in body roll if you tackle corners with a little too much vigor.
If you go for the flagship GT trim, however, Volkswagen will add firmer sports suspension which helps cancel out some of that excess body roll without disrupting the Golf Sportsvan's ride too much. Plush part-Alcantara seats, 17-inch alloy wheels, all round parking sensors, plus Discover sat nav also come as standard with GT models, like on our test car. Volkswagen's Familiar S and SE trim levels are also available, with kit such as Bluetooth, DAB radio, 5.8-inch colour touchscreen and air con fitted as standard across the range.