Open gallery Close by Richard Webber 16 May 2014 Follow @rjbwebber Share
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Volkswagen’s first stab at a Golf MPV – the Golf Plus – was hamstrung by Golf Mk5 underpinnings that constrained its wheelbase and basic footprint.
These limitations meant the only way was up, hence the tall, awkward silhouette that was one reason why the Plus sold just 42,248 units during eight years on sale in the UK.
The Golf SV will likely appeal to many buyers thanks to its economy, safety features and polished finishRichard WebberSpecial correspondent
Taking advantage of the Mk7 Volkswagen Golf’s flexible MQB architecture, the Golf SV (known as ‘Sportsvan’ on the continent) offers ‘proper’ MPV proportions. Size-wise, it’s similar to Ford’s fun-to-drive yet practical C-Max.
The SV’s 2685mm wheelbase is around 50mm longer than that of the £1245-cheaper Volkswagen Golf hatchback and £550-cheaper estate, but at a handy 4338mm in overall length, it’s closer to the 4255mm-long hatch than the 4562mm-long load-lugger.
The result is a shape that majors on cabin space, yet at 500-590 litres (depending on the position of the rear bench), the SV’s boot isn’t significantly smaller than the estate’s 605-litre cavity. Drop the rear seatbacks and the MPV holds a respectable 1520 litres versus the estate’s 1620.
Crucially, despite these dimensional mutations, VW has largely managed to retain the hatchback’s considered aesthetic using tricks such as a glasshouse-extending fifth side window and bonnet-lengthening creases. Glimpse the SV on the road and you could mistake it for a normal five-door Volkswagen Golf – not an error you’d have made with the Plus.
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There’s familiarity in the specially designed cabin, too. Neat switchgear, high-quality finishes and sound ergonomics reprise the standard Golf, but the controls are more democratically positioned, being less angled towards the hot seat. The driver’s hip-point is at least 59mm higher than in the hatchback, too, giving the driver a good view through the glass expanses while avoiding the feeling of being perched too high.
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Door bins are generous front and rear, but cunning storage solutions are few. Mid-range trim brings drawers under the front seats but they’re small and awkward to access. Likewise, the rear seating lacks an innovative edge. The bench slides 180mm fore and aft and folds and reclines, all of which can be done as a whole or with a 60/40 split.
A top-spec C-Max’s rear seats additionally tumble forward or can be removed altogether, and its central seat can stow away to free up more room for the remaining tenants. The SV’s middle pew is both skinny and inhibited by the MQB’s fixed transmission tunnel.
All that said, head and leg room is excellent front and back, even with the rear bench in its mid-way setting. The boot has a flexible floor that can be set to various heights (including flush to the boot lip) and has flaps that smooth over the not-quite-flat floor when the seats are folded forward. The front passenger seat can optionally be foldable, too, creating a 2484mm-long space.
As for equipment levels there are three trim levels – S, SE and GT with the first available with Volkswagen’s Bluemotion technology. Opt for a basic Golf SV and you will find 15in steel wheels, a variable boot floor, air conditioning, all round electric windows, and a 6.5in infotainment system completer with Bluetooth preparation, DAB tuner, and USB and SD card connectivity. Upgrade to the mid-range SE models and you’ll get 16in alloy wheels, lumbar adjustable front seats, adaptive cruise control, automatic lights and wipers and an active crash system.
The first two trims are also available with Bluemotion technology and aldo get low rolling resistance tyres, sports suspension, while the SE also gets cruise control.