First Drive: Volkswagen Golf SV

Matt Kimberley, Press Association Motoring Writer
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First Drive: Volkswagen Golf SV

2014 Volkswagen Golf SV

What’s new?

This is the Golf built for people who like their Golfs with a bit more Golf about them. It's longer, taller, wider and heavier than the seventh-generation hatchback from which the new SV takes its name. Its more spacious interior and higher seating position are its key selling points that differentiate it from its hatchback, estate and convertible brethren.

Looks and image

The Golf Plus, which the SV replaces, was something of a frump but the new kid on the small MPV block is a glittering starlet by comparison. Confident lines, panels that reflect light beautifully and bold colour options that really make the most of the excellent new styling are all reasons why the Golf SV is a lot more desirable than the old Plus.

Space and practicality

While it packs in a smaller boot than the Golf estate, it has a clever sliding rear bench seat arrangement that means luggage space can be expanded at the cost of outright rear seat legroom.

A hidden compartment beneath the boot floor forms part of the seats-back 500-litre storage capacity, so the main part of the boot looks less capacious than the numbers might make you think. Bigger pushchairs might not leave much room for anything else, for example.

Behind the wheel

Volkswagen has done a fantastic job of making the SV as friendly, stable and competent as it can, and while the car offers very little in terms of raw driving pleasure, the controls are weighted perfectly for everyday driving, the centre console and auxiliary controls are laid out sensibly and intuitively and the infotainment interface on high-end models is straight out of the top drawer.

The driving experience perfectly sums up the SV's positioning as the everyman's everyday family car. It can easily cope with family life while looking great in front of the house, but those looking for excitement should go elsewhere.

Value for money

Ignore the headline 'from' price, because the models you'll actually want to buy are well beyond £20,000, even approaching £25,000 at the peak. Larger, more practical and more spacious cars can be bought for much less, so this is a car buyers will really have to want to own.

On the plus side, economical engines are available and whether petrol or diesel is best for you, road tax bills are going to be low and fuel bills can be kept more or less in check.

Who would buy one?

People left cold by the style-less, unshapely MPVs out there will welcome the Golf SV like a starving man welcomes a bag of crisps. MPVs have in recent years fallen behind the more fashionable SUV-derived models, but the SV can compete with each and every one of them.

Families whose first priority is passenger space at the cost of luggage space will also like the SV. Those people whose needs are reversed should perhaps consider the Golf estate instead.

This car summed up in a single word: Fresh

If this car was an…: apple it would be a perfectly ripe and blemish-free Granny Smith. It looks lovely and has plenty of crisp substance beneath the skin.

FACTS AT A GLANCE

Volkswagen Golf SV 2.0 TDI 150PS GT, from £25,400

Engine: 2.0-litre diesel unit producing 148bhp and 251lb/ft of torque

Transmission: Six-speed manual driving the front wheels

Performance: Top speed 130mph, 0-62mph in 9.2 seconds (loaded)

Economy: 64.2mpg combined

Emissions: 115g/km of CO2