Volkswagen Golf SV review

Our Rating: 
4
4.0/5.0
By Auto Express Test TeamComments

The Volkswagen Golf SV is a more practical version of the popular family hatchback, known as the Sportsvan in other markets

For: 
Fun to drive for an MPV, spacious and quality interior
Against: 
A little pricey, breathless entry-level petrol

The new Volkswagen Golf SV is a bigger and more practical alternative to the standard Golf hatchback. In other European markets the new MPV will be known as the Sportsvan but only in Britain it will wear the SV moniker.

It’s the successor to the old Golf Plus but it’s now longer, wider and taller so it should be better equipped to be taking on rivals such as the Ford C-Max, Citroen C4 Picasso and forthcoming BMW 2 Series Active Tourer.

The Golf SV not only looks like the standard hatchback with which it shares part of its name but all of the running gear and the versatile MQB architecture has also been adopted. It means the engine range – which is now 20 per cent more fuel efficient – can be carried over, with four turbocharged petrol and three turbo diesel engine available. 

Power outputs range from 84bhp to 148bhp, with five and six speed manual transmissions available plus an automatic DSG gearbox being offered depending on engine choice.  

Styling

3.5

MPVs are among the least desirable cars available to buyers. Slab sided bodies and boxy proportions make them look ungainly from certain angles but with a focus on practicality and interior space it means manufacturers have little to work with in terms of style.

What the Golf SV does, however, is try to mask its increased proportions with sharp lines and squared-off panels, though with limited sucess. The Golf face has been crafted onto the front end and the larger 17-inch alloy wheels fitted to top spec models give it a more purposeful look.

Even inside, the dash and centre console have been lifted straight out of the donor model so everything is very familiar and easy to use. Most popular with buyers is expected to be SE spec models, which comes as standard with alloy wheels, air con, 6.5-inch touchscreen with sat nav and multi function steering wheel.

Despite all this, next to the stylish Citroen C4 Picasso the Golf SV looks rather bland both inside and out.

Driving

3.9

The SV is available with a range of petrol and diesel engines. A smaller capacity 89bhp 1.6-litre diesel available but extra power and torque from the larger 148bhp 2.0-litre engine is better suited to a car this size, so it's the one we'd recommend if you're going for a diesel.However, VW does offer various silky-smooth petrol variants. The 123bhp 1.4-litre petrol is not far off matching the 1.6-litre diesel when it comes to running costs. Fitted with the optional DSG gearbox (£1,415) it’s a very relaxing experience, with the transmission flicking between gears at exactly the right time. It’s not as smooth at pulling away from a standstill as a normal torque converter auto, but then that’s the case with most dual clutch systems.

VW Golf SV rear

As the Golf SV is based on the hatch, there’s very little separating them when it comes to fun behind the wheel. The handling is responsive and the Golf SV holds the road surprisingly well, with only a little more body roll noticeable over the hatch.

In GT spec, the car comes stiffer sports suspension but really who wants that on an MPV. Combine this with the GT’s 17-inch alloys and the ride is a little firmer than we’d like on this type of car. And annoyingly you can’t deselect the stiffer set up like you can with an Audi S-Line model. So if you want the GT with all its extra kit, and you want to improve the ride, you’ll need to spend an extra £800 for the adaptive dampers as these feature a comfort mode.

Reliability

4

Despite VW’s famous association with reliability, the manufacturer only managed 26th in the 2014 Driver Power survey. That’s down three positions on where the German marque was ranked last year. 

The Golf SV is yet to be Euro NCAP tested but we’d expect it to be awarded the full five stars. The stronger and more rigid body will help better protect passengers inside and a whole raft of safety tech from the hatchback is also available.

Gadgets include an automatic post-collision braking system which automatically brakes the vehicle after a crash to reduce the risk of a second collision, and a PreCrash system which, on detecting the possibility of an accident, pre-tensions seatbelts and closes the windows to ensure the best possible protection.

Practicality

4.5

The Golf SV was designed from the outset to excel in one particular area and this is it. The taller and wider dimension of the new model plus the 48mm increase in wheelbase means it easier to get in and out. Once inside there’s ample space for the driver and four other adult passengers. 

Boot space, at 500 litres, is 76 litres more than you got in the old Golf plus and its 121 litres more than what’s offered in the hatchback model. Whereas the SV’s predecessor fell short of its rivals when it came to practicality the new Golf SV is right amongst its rivals this time around.

VW Golf SV interior

It offers more interior space than the Ford C-Max and Renault Scenic, plus if you need to carry larger loads, the rear seats slide forward which frees up 590 liters of space and they also fold flat creating a storage area of 1,512 litres. However, this outright load lugging capacity is considerably down on its rivals. The Renault has removeable rear seats and with them its load volume raises to 1,870 litres.

Running Costs

4.5

From launch VW will offer an 84bhp or 109bhp 1.2-litre turbocharged petrol engines plus more powerful 124bhp and 148bhp 1.4-litre petrol motors. All will return between 51-57mpg and emit 114 -127g/km of CO2 depending on gearbox choice. 

The more frugal diesel engines are made up of an 89bhp 1.6-litre engine and a more potent 148bhp 2.0-litre engine. Despite being diesel powered, the economical benefits are less obvious in the SV, with the diesel only being between 3-6mpg more efficient than the petrol models. They may be slightly cheaper to run but the diesel models are significantly more expensive to buy, so the money you save on running costs isn't recouped as quickly as you'd expect. 

VW also offers a fully-fledged Bluemotion Golf SV model, which features a 109bhp 1.6-litre diesel, low rolling resistance tyres, stop/start and longer gearing, enabling it to return 76.3mpg with CO2 emissions of just 95g/km. All engines with the exception of the entry-level petrol are available with the DSG gearbox at a £1,415 premium, but it does improves the SV when it comes to performance, economy and refinement. 

Last updated: 18 Aug, 2014
Issue 1346
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