CJ Hubbard | May 2014
Loath the idea of driving an MPV but need a little more room than you’ll find in a regular hatchback? Then assuming the ever-growing crop of crossover SUVs don’t tempt you, the Volkswagen Golf SV might just be the solution you’ve been looking for.
The Golf SV is, as the pictures make plain, the brand new replacement for the Golf Plus – which is to say a five-seat compact people carrier, that’s like a Golf hatchback, only bigger. SV stands for Sportsvan, which is what the new model is called elsewhere in Europe – we get the initials to avoid the obvious commercial vehicle associations.
The exterior design is somewhat more sophisticated than the previous effort, with a neat interplay of light and shadow in the side panels that add interest as well as disguising the SV’s extra bulk over the hatchback. The new car is 83mm longer than the hatch, 81mm wider and 126mm taller – with an extra 48mm in the wheelbase.
All of which is excellent news for interior comfort, but still results in a relatively modest on-road footprint, compared to the likes of the latest Citroen C4 Picasso, which is almost intimidatingly massive. This makes the SV a very easy machine to cope with in daily driving, even around some narrow French mountain roads.
In addition to the excellent legroom on the inside there are plenty of additional practicality features, while VW has also chosen the Golf SV to debut a new SideScan blind spot monitoring system – which arrives as an option in addition to the already comprehensive amount of available safety equipment.
What is the 2014 Volkswagen Golf SV like to drive?
Driving the Golf SV for the first time is like reuniting with an old friend, who is largely exactly the same as you remember except for the addition of a few extra pounds (both in terms of weight and, as we shall see, monetary considerations). The dashboard is familiar VW fare, only angled less towards the driver to become more “room orientated”, as befits the nature of a people carrying device.
The SV also steers and grips with a reassuringly Volkswagen sense of precision – it really is “like a Golf”, only bigger. The taller body, which accommodates a higher seating position, generates a little more roll through the turns, but hardly to the point of alarm, and especially acceptable given the composed ride quality. The range-topping GT model features sports suspension and bigger 17-inch ally wheels if you really feel the need to tighten things up, but the standard set-up copes admirably with mildly spirited driving.
Refinement in both the 1.4-litre TSI turbo petrol and 2.0-litre TDI turbodiesel models is also approaching exceptional – and both these units offer plenty of puff, even if you plump for the lower-powered 125hp 1.4, instead of the 150hp offered by the feistier version and the diesel. All but the entry-level five-speed 85hp 1.2 TSI turbo petrol feature a six-speed manual gearbox as standard; a six- or seven-speed DSG auto is offered as an option on everything but the base engine, too.
We weren’t able to test any versions of the 1.2 TSI, nor the 1.6 TDI, which is projected to be the best-seller. This is potentially notable because these are fitted with a simpler torsion beam rear suspension design, rather than the more expensive multilink set-up on the rest of the range. Experience from the Golf hatch suggests the torsion beam will feel less composed, but hardly unbearable.
Is the 2014 Volkswagen Golf SV really an MPV?
The whole point of the Golf SV is to offer more space without shouting about it – and in this respect it is very successful. The rear seats slide and have a 40:20:40 split adjustable back rest, allowing you to juggle boot space and passenger room as required. Not that you’ll likely need to do this often, as the minimum luggage volume is 500 litres, compared to 380 litres for the Golf hatchback (and 605 litres for the Golf Estate). Maximum load volume is 1,520 litres.
Convenience features include pull straps that make rearranging the rear seats a simple affair, a two-position boot floor that can be adjusted single-handed, plus the usual cubby holes, elasticated straps, curry hooks and tis-down points. You can also option a fold-flat front passenger seat, allowing the Golf SV to swallow objects up to 2,484mm in length.
Visibility is also very good, as the SV has more windows than a conventional Golf, and narrower pillars as a result, while the higher driving position gives a greater view of the road ahead without forcing you to “climb” aboard as you do in some SUVs.
Standard equipment is reasonably generous; there are four UK trim levels – S, Bluemotion, SE and GT – and all models include Bluetooth, DAB digital radio, touchscreen infotainment, iPod connection, air conditioning and seven airbags. Other safety kit includes post-collision brake and the XDS electronic differential, which uses the stability control sensors to help the driven front wheels find grip.
However, you’ll need to upgrade to SE to get autonomous city braking, satnav, and the driver profile select system, which gives you a choice of Comfort, Normal, Sport and Eco driving settings. Stand out options include a panoramic roof and the Side Scan blind spot monitor, which also watches for passing cars when you’re trying to back out of a parking space.
MR VERDICT: 2014 Volkswagen Golf SV
The new VW Golf SV is a very neatly executed answer to a question we’re not entirely sure how many people were asking – but if you are in the market for a extra-big hatchback as opposed to a conventional MPV, this should be your starting point.
Just don’t go down to the VW dealer expecting a bargain. Golf SV prices begin at £18,875 – some £1,900 more than an equivalent Golf hatch, and still some £550 higher than the equivalent Golf Estate. So it rather comes down to how much of a premium you put on passenger space.
- Citroen C4 Picasso
- Ford C-Max
- Kia Carens
- Mercedes-Benz B-Class
- Toyota Verso
Engines 1.2 TSI (85, 110), 1.4 TSI (125, 150), 1.6 TDI (90, 110), 2.0 TDI (150)
Drivetrain front-wheel drive with XDS electronics, manual or DSG automatic
Price from £18,875
Torque 118-251lb ft
0-62mph 8.8-13.2 seconds
Top speed 110-132mph