What is the Volkswagen Golf SV?
It’s a Golf, only larger. Sorry if that sounds a little flippant but really, the best way to describe the SV is that it’s a little like a Golf that’s been inflated by about 30%.
Volkswagen says it’s a hatchback, not an MPV (people carrier), since that would be treading on the toes of the VW Touran. And it’s not an estate, because there’s already one of those in the Golf range. So a hatchback it is, only larger.
The main advantage over a Golf is that there is significantly more space in the back seat and boot. Some drivers may also like it for being easier to climb in and out of, and the clear view it has of the road ahead.
Prices start from £18,875 for a 1.2-litre TSI petrol in S trim. Most drivers choose the 1.6 (110) TDI in SE trim, which costs from £22,585.
There’s no escaping the fact that alternatives to the SV can be found in Volkswagen showrooms. The Golf hatchback, Golf estate (both comparatively cheaper) and Touran (a little more expensive) should all be compared for size and driving experience before you make up you mind which best suits your needs. It’s also worth setting it against the benchmark in the MPV class, the Citroen C4 Picasso, and the excellent Skoda Octavia.
VW offers a choice of seven engines for SV drivers. If you cover fewer than approximately 10,000 miles a year, a petrol unit is probably the one to choose, and there are two 1.2-litre and two 1.4-litre motors. Power outputs range from 84bhp to 148bhp.
Drivers travelling over 10,000 miles a year may be better off choosing a diesel. It’s more expensive to buy, as is the fuel, but with superior fuel economy it’s possible to recoup that investment, so long as you drive efficiently.
The most popular engine in the Golf SV range is the 1.6 TDI 110, which Driving tested. It’s easy to see why: it is claimed to return up to 72.4mpg on the combined cycle, and because it develops its peak torque from just 1,500rpm through to 3,000rpm, it is flexible and easy to make progress in.
That’s a good thing, because it’s not an exciting car to drive. The SV is all about comfort, composure and feeling surefooted. It is especially impressive over crumbling country roads, urban speedbumps and potholes. If it were our money, we’d give the £815 Dynamic Chassis Control (with three suspension settings) a miss, as the SV’s suspension strikes a good compromise without it.
Unless you drive with the throttle to the floor, refinement levels are generally impressive and the SV makes a good long-distance cruiser. It’s a shame that the big-selling SE model with manual transmission doesn’t some with a sixth gear, which would help improve fuel economy further. You have to buy a BlueMotion model to get that, or order the seven-speed DSG automatic gearbox, which is an extra £1,415.
Volkswagen offers a host of electronic driver aids for the SV, just as it does for the regular Golf. Some of these are genuinely helpful additions that will keep you safe – notably Lane and Side Assist (£700).
Ultimately, you’ll buy the SV over a regular Golf hatchback because of the extra back seat and boot space, and the fact it’s a little easier to get in and out of, thanks to the taller doors.
If you have teenage children who can’t seem to stop growing, or you regularly ferry friends about, the back of the Golf SV offers plenty of room to stretch out. It’s significantly more spacious than a regular Golf hatchback, as the wheelbase (the distance between the front and rear wheels) and the length of the car have been increased.
How much more spacious? Well, an average height driver of just under 6ft can stretch their legs right out, first-class cabin style, behind their own driving position.
Admittedly, the back seat is a single item, rather than the typical arrangement of three individual seats that you’ll find in a people carrier such as VW’s own Touran. But someone has given it plenty of thought, as the seat belt clasps all tuck away into recessed pockets and the seat can be folded 40:20:20, which is helpful for DIY dads (and mums, naturally).
There’s a pair of picnic tables in the back – useful for those damp, disappointing family trips to the seaside – and ventilation and large door bins are also provided. What’s more, the bench slides forwards to liberate more boot space.
Not that the SV’s boot is small. It holds 500 litres worth of luggage, which is 120 litres more than the Golf, and sliding the bench seat forwards liberates another 90 litres. There’s a strap on the side of the rear seat backs that lowers them once pulled, and this frees up a total of 1,520 litres of storage space. Meanwhile, wet walking boots and jackets, and assorted oddments can be stored in the false floor. The only things lacking are an electrically operated tailgate and a luggage divide integrated into the luggage cover which would shield back-seat occupants when the car’s loaded above the window line.
And what of the driver’s environment in the SV? Well, it’s pretty much identical to the Golf’s, which means it’s a model of clarity to use – although the standard 5.8in touchscreen system, for sat nav, audio and vehicle settings, is on the small side. It’s a shame the optional 8in screen with upgraded functionality is such an expensive option at £1,765.
Climbing in and out is easier thanks to the taller roof height, and you sit higher than in a Golf, which many drivers will appreciate. It certainly has a better view of the road ahead, and the surrounding traffic, than the hatchback.
The one to buy
Volkswagen Golf SV 1.6 TDI (110) SE
- Price: From £22,585 (correct at first publication)
- Engine: 1598cc, four-cylinder diesel
- Power: 107bhp @ 3200 – 4000rpm
- Torque: 184 lb ft @ 1500 – 3000rpm
- Transmission: 5-speed manual, front-wheel drive
- Acceleration: 0-62mph in 11.3sec
- Top speed: 119mph
- Fuel: 72.4mpg (combined)
- CO2: 101g/km
- Road tax band: B (£20)
- Dimensions: L 4338mm, W 1807mm, H 1578mm
Volkswagen Golf SV rivals
- Citroen C4 Picasso (check used car prices)
- Ford C-Max (check used car prices)
- Volkswagen Touran (check used car prices)