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First drive: Volkswagen Golf SV. Image by Volkswagen.

First drive: Volkswagen Golf SV
Volkswagen has another go at the slightly-larger Golf formula, this time branding it SV.


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| First Drive | St Tropez, France | Volkswagen Golf SV |

Overall rating: 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5

Sharp looks, a typically excellent Volkswagen interior and the promise of extra practicality are what's on offer from the Golf Plus replacement, now badged the Golf SV. But with an excellent estate model already in the Golf Mk7 range, we're not sure why you'd want the SV over either the wagon or the regular hatch, unless you're really, really tall.

Key Facts

Model tested: Volkswagen Golf SV 2.0 TDI GT manual
Pricing: starts from 18,875; 2.0 TDI GT manual from 25,400
Engine: 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbocharged diesel
Transmission: six-speed manual, front-wheel drive
Body style: five-door compact MPV
Rivals: Ford Focus C-Max, Mercedes-Benz B-Class, Renault Scenic
CO2 emissions: 115g/km
Combined economy: 64.2mpg
Top speed: 130mph
0-62mph: 9.2 seconds
Power: 150hp from 3,500- to 4,000rpm
Torque: 340Nm from 1,750- to 3,000rpm

In the Metal: 4 4 4 4 4

SV stands for 'Sportsvan' in the rest of Europe, but it is believed the 'van' connotations do not sit well with buyers in the UK, so SV it is for us. A pretty evocative pair of letters when slapped on the rump of an extreme, track-focused Lamborghini, on the back of a Golf they simply mean a bit more headroom. But the SV is much more attractive than the bulbous Golf Plus it replaces, some sharp creases running along its flanks and boot lid giving it tasteful definition. The angular lights of the Mk7 Golf family are present and correct, the 126mm higher roofline doesn't detract from its stance and the overall effect is of a compact, tidy design, mainly thanks to the fact it is just 83mm longer than the Golf hatch. Best of all is the striking Habanero Orange paint option, a great colour that the old Plus would never have been able to carry off. Still, we bet our home market buyers will plump for silver or grey... sigh.

The interior is peerless in its class once more in terms of fit and finish, the range-topping GT trim equipped with pretty much everything you could want on this type of car, such as a touchscreen satnav system, adaptive cruise control, climate control, Isofix seat mountings and so on. And when it comes to practicality, there's certainly been some thought put into the SV's cabin. The rear seats all slide individually by up to 180mm, which increases the boot space from 500 litres in the 'all back' position to 590 litres with them jammed forward. They also fold flat easily at the tug of a fabric handle where the squab meets the backrest, and the front passenger seat folds down too so you can carry loads that are 2,484mm long. Maximum load space with the rear bench stowed away is a giant 1,520 litres - although the Golf Estate offers 605- and 1,620 litres in back seats up/down formation.

Driving it: 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5

In terms of day-to-day normal driving, the Golf SV is fine. It has a smooth ride, even in range-topping GT trim on bigger alloys and with sports suspension, it supresses wind and road noise brilliantly, the 2.0-litre TDI engine is strong in the mid-range and quiet throughout its entire spread of revs and the seats are comfortable with a decent driving position attainable. We also drove petrol 1.4 versions with 125- and 150hp, and they were pretty much the same, just without the diesel's extra muscle.

Like a normal, basic Golf, though, the SV offers not even the slightest hint of excitement at all beyond these 'leisurely pace' capabilities. It will at least grip far beyond what you might expect, with safety-led understeer the order of the day when it is severely provoked. The engine is classic turbodiesel, running out of puff quickly after a big mid-range thump and occasionally labouring if you dare to drop below 1,600rpm - and the steering lacks feel and weight. However, driving like a lunatic is not the SV's remit, so for its target buyers the 'safely, safely' approach will be absolutely spot on the money.

What you get for your Money: 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5

Three main trim levels and a BlueMotion variant are the order of the day. S models offer Bluetooth, DAB radio, an SD card reader and CD player with a 5.8-inch colour touchscreen, MP3 connectivity, seven airbags, the XDS electronic 'differential' system, an automatic post-collision braking system and air conditioning. The BlueMotion car is based on the S trim line and offers 95g/km CO2 with a yet-to-be-ratified 76.3mpg combined, all for 22,715, although it is the only car in the range at the moment that isn't EU6 compliant.

SE, likely to be the most popular trim, adds to S specification with adaptive cruise control including Front Assist and City Emergency Braking, 16-inch alloys, drawers under the front seats, tables on the front-seat backrests, air vents in the back of the centre console for rear passengers, leather for the gear lever and three-spoke multifunction steering wheel, auto lights and wipers, a Driver Alert system, driver profile selection and the preventive occupant protection system. GT is the top spec and sees an increase in wheel size to 17 inches, sports suspension, 65 per cent tinted rear windows, the Discover satnav system, parking sensors all round, Alcantara and cloth upholstery, ambient interior lighting and electrically folding door mirrors.

The problem is that the Estate range begins at 17,915, neatly undercutting the SV from the get-go and offering the same engine and transmission line-up with a bit more cargo capacity.

Worth Noting

There are two capacities of both petrol and diesel engines for the SV range, with varying power figures. Two 1.2-litre TSIs are available, with either 85- or 110hp. The bigger 1.4-litre TSI also has two power outputs, at 125- and 150hp. Moving on to diesels, the 1.6-litre TDI in 110hp format is expected to be the biggest seller in the UK, in SE spec, but you can also have it in 90hp format, while the 2.0-litre TDI as tested here comes only in 150hp guise. You can opt for five- or six-speed manuals, and six- or seven-speed DSG dual-clutch automatic transmissions throughout the range (the number of ratios depends on engine output). Four out of five SVs are expected to be diesels, 35 per cent DSGs and slightly more than half will be sold through retail.


Once again, the Volkswagen Golf SV - like the Plus before it - doesn't do anything particularly wrong. In fact it does a lot of things very right. Ride, handling and drivetrain refinement are all perfectly acceptable for this market, there's plenty of space in the back and it looks premium both inside and out; something that couldn't be said of its predecessor's ungainly, bloated exterior. But then the Golf hatch and Golf Estate models offer all the above already, without the (admittedly very slight) compromises the SV's higher roofline demands of the performance, economy and dynamics; it's only the individually adjustable rear seats, higher seating position and extra headroom that mark the newcomer out. That you also have to pay more for the SV than the excellent Estate leaves us asking a slightly awkward question: why bother?

Matt Robinson - 9 May 2014    - Volkswagen road tests
- Volkswagen news
- Golf SV images

2014 Volkswagen Golf SV. Image by Max Earey.2014 Volkswagen Golf SV. Image by Max Earey.2014 Volkswagen Golf SV. Image by Max Earey.2014 Volkswagen Golf SV. Image by Max Earey.2014 Volkswagen Golf SV. Image by Max Earey.

2014 Volkswagen Golf SV. Image by Max Earey.2014 Volkswagen Golf SV. Image by Max Earey.2014 Volkswagen Golf SV. Image by Max Earey.2014 Volkswagen Golf SV. Image by Max Earey.2014 Volkswagen Golf SV. Image by Max Earey.

2014 Volkswagen Golf SV. Image by Volkswagen.

2014 Volkswagen Golf SV. Image by Volkswagen.

2014 Volkswagen Golf SV. Image by Volkswagen.

2014 Volkswagen Golf SV. Image by Volkswagen.

2014 Volkswagen Golf SV. Image by Volkswagen.

2014 Volkswagen Golf SV. Image by Volkswagen.

2014 Volkswagen Golf SV. Image by Volkswagen.

2014 Volkswagen Golf SV. Image by Volkswagen.


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