In the mid-noughties, Volkswagen hopped on the trend for small MPVs and launched a five seat MPV version of the Golf. The early incarnations were called the Golf Plus; this small MPV has now evolved into the Volkswagen Golf SV.
Think of it as a plus size version of the popular Golf hatchback. Compared to a standard Golf, the SV is higher, longer and a bit wider, but the Volkswagen family DNA is still plain to see. The Golf SV is conservatively styled to blend in rather than stand out, and looks like a slightly smaller Touran MPV.
Inside, the interior borrows heavily from the Golf, sharing a lot of the same switchgear and the same basic dash layout. The centre console is dominated by a touchscreen that is one of the most user-friendly infotainment systems on the market. The material quality is good around the cabin but there is nothing really memorable about the interior. Yet the controls are all so perfectly placed and logical to use that the Golf SV is a car you soon feel at home in, even if it is not the most sensuous of homes.
But within the confines of the Golf SV’s boxy body what you will find is comfortable ‘living space’. The interior of the Golf SV is much more spacious than a Golf hatchback. There is a lot of extra headroom and a longer wheelbase means that there is really excellent legroom in the back. This car really scores as bright, family friendly transport, provided you have three kids not five, because this is strictly a five seater. You will need to step up to a Touran if you need those extra two seats.
Predictably for a car aimed at families, there are loads of clever storage spaces, pull down tables on the back of the front seats, and two Isofix child seat fixtures on the rear bench. The boot is 500 litres compared to 380 in the Golf hatch and can be expanded to 590 litres by sliding the rear bench forwards. There is a low sill that makes it easy to load and the boot is square in shape.
The engine line-up for Ireland is made up of the 1.2-litre TSI petrol (85hp or 110hp), the 1.6-litre diesel (90hp or 110hp) and a top of the range 2.0-litre diesel (150hp). There are 5- and 6-speed manual gearboxes and a 7-speed DSG gearbox. The 110hp 1.6-litre TDI is the most efficient with emissions of 101g/km placing it in motor tax band A3 with annual motor tax of €190.
I tested the 1.6TDI with 110bhp and it’s nippy enough for the Golf SV. My test car had the 7-speed DSG gearbox and it was a reminder of just how good Volkswagen’s automatic gearboxes are. With this combination, the Golf SV is a smooth and relaxing drive. An on-throttle engine drone at high speeds is the only irritant.
Elsewhere, this is safe, predictable motoring. You sit high in the car, and there is great visibility all round. On the road, the Golf SV doesn’t feel as tight as a standard Golf and there is more body roll in the corners, but the steering is direct and accurate and there is good grip from the front end so it’s still a nifty mover. The suspension also does a good job of isolating occupants from the worst of the bumps and uneven surfaces and this is largely a smooth way to travel.
In Ireland there are currently three trim grades for the Volkswagen Golf SV: Trendline, Comfortline and Highline. Standard equipment includes electric windows, air conditioning, 5-inch touchscreen radio with Aux-In, SD card slot and Bluetooth, and an electronic parking brake with hill hold. Comfortline specification adds a leather multifunction steering wheel, 16” alloy wheels, drawers under the front seats, a larger 6-inch touch-screen radio, cruise control, front fog lights, front comfort seats and lumbar support, a rear centre armrest with load-through provision and a black radiator grille with chrome strips on the fins.
The top of the range Highline specification adds 17” alloy wheels, front and rear parking sensors, chrome strips on the side windows, rear privacy glass, ambient lighting, Alcantara trimmed seats, and a sports suspension. Volkswagen Ireland offer a number of 162 Innovation Packs, which add more equipment for just €162. Petrol models start at €23,025, while diesels start at €25,225.
The Volkswagen Golf SV is not glamourous or sexy, but it’s big and honest. The boost up, out and at the back makes the Golf SV a very practical means of transporting a small family and their things.
Though some driving fun and style is compromised over a hatchback, the Golf SV is still a quality offering in this segment with decent refinement and on road driving manners.
Whether it’s petrol or diesel you’re after, there is an engine here that will prove frugal and capable, and Volkswagen’s DSG automatic gearboxes are some of the best specimens should you wish for a super easy driving experience behind the wheel.
The Volkswagen Golf SV does little to excite but it’s got the bases covered as a dependable family car.
Model Tested: Volkswagen Golf SV Lounge 1.6TDI 110hp DSG
Price: €29,450 (Lounge trim discontinued, this is price for a similarly specced Comfortline)
Engine: 1.6-litre turbo diesel
0-100km/h: 11.3 seconds
CO2 Emissions: 106g/km
Motor Tax: €190 per year