Volkswagen Golf SV review
The Volkswagen Golf SV is a more practical version of the popular family hatchback, known as the Sportsvan in other markets
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. For those who like to keep running costs down, there is also a fuel-sipping Bluemotion model available which emits only 95g/km of CO2.
Given the huge success of the standard Golf, it’s no surprise that the SV’s styling is heavily influenced by its smaller brother’s. With its straightforward design, solid proportions and upright tail, it looks more like a tall family hatch than a traditional MPV.
Yet while the design is modern and well executed, it lacks the futuristic looks and bold detailing of the more daring C4 Picasso. Still, top-spec GT trim gets 17-inch alloys, extra chrome trim and rear privacy glass add extra interest.
Although the exterior takes cues from the standard Golf, the cabin is a little more bold. You’ll find a gloss black panel running the length of the dash, plus a central touchscreen infotainment system. This layout works well and is easy to get comfortable in. And what the Golf lacks in ultimate style, it makes up for with excellent quality.
The standard kit list is generous, too. All cars get air-con, Bluetooth and a DAB radio, while GT adds adaptive cruise control, sat-nav, and front and rear parking sensors, although a reversing camera is an extra £165.
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.
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.
The SV is built on the same MQB platform as the Golf Mk7, which finished our Driver Power 2014 satisfaction survey in a highly respectable 18th overall. The VW also uses a familiar line-up of tried-and-tested petrol and diesel engines, boosting its chances of providing stress-free service. Our car felt extremely robustly built, too, so it should comfortably withstand the rough and tumble of family life.
A five-star Euro NCAP rating proves that VW hasn’t scrimped on safety with the SV. All versions get seven airbags and tyre-pressure monitoring, while SE-spec models and above feature adaptive cruise control, a low-speed collision-avoidance system and a driver-fatigue monitor.
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.
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.
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. It's the only model in the range that emits less than 100g/km of CO2 but the aero tweaks and gearing changes make it pretty forgetable to drive and to look at. Plus, it's only fractionally more efficient than the rest of the range, and in the real world you won't notice the extra MPG figures.