VW Golf Plus SE 1.4 TSI

New offering from VW needs to make up the price premium over standard hatch

Not quite an MPV, not quite a family hatch... the Golf Plus has always been hard to pitch. It’s best described as a Golf made a bit more practical, and aims to address some of the conventional car’s shortcomings without making a bold people carrier statement.

And bold is one thing the Golf Plus is not. While the original’s gentle curves now have Volkswagen’s latest look, overall it’s virtually identical to its predecessor. A new grille gets glossy black trim, the headlamps are revised, the roofline is  lower and the rear has a new bumper and LED lights. Yet the VW isn’t as striking as its Honda rival.

Climb inside, and the overall layout remains unchanged, although the Plus has inherited some new trim and upholstery from the MkVI Golf. The restrained design and sensible switchgear are easier on the eye than the more adventurous Honda’s.

Only when you take a seat in the rear do you begin to understand the purpose of this model in VW’s range. Adults travelling in the back will be much more comfortable than they would be in the standard Golf. There’s a substantial 730mm of legroom – 50mm more than the Honda – while head and shoulder space are also generous.

Just don’t expect the space to extend to the luggage area. Although the 395-litre capacity is much more useful than the latest hatchback’s 350 litres, it still trails the FR-V’s 493-litre load bay. The boot is a useful shape, though, with a full metre width and a rear bench that tumbles and folds in a single motion. Buyers get a choice of S or SE trims, and while you might expect a diesel engine to make more sense in this car, the smart money will go on the 1.4-litre TSI petrol model.

At idle, the 120bhp turbocharged unit emits a sporty snarl, while the faint whistle of the turbo provides the soundtrack to smooth and gutsy acceleration across the rev range. We managed 0-60mph in 9.7 seconds, but what impresses more is the pace in higher gears. Getting from 50-70mph without changing down from sixth took 12.3 seconds in the VW, but a much lazier 16.6 seconds in the Honda.It’s a testament to the quality of the MkV Golf’s platform that the latest Plus is still sharp to drive, too.

There’s more feel through the steering than the Honda, and long-distance ride comfort is excellent. It’s no hot hatch, but few buyers will be disappointed. The basic non-turbo 1.4 petrol car is priced at £14,410, yet our TSI SE weighs in at £17,865. Although you get luxuries such as VW’s self-parking system thrown in, the hatch version is £16,515 in the same spec. Does the Golf Plus have enough added value to justify its price premium?

Details

Chart position: 2WHY: Makeover gives flexible version of family hatch the latest, MkVI look. Does that take it to the top of the class?

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