Volkswagen Golf SV 2015 620x277

Driven: Volkswagen Golf SV

The Volkswagen Golf Plus was never a car to tug at the heart, but offered a handy practicality boost over the standard Golf. Now it’s been renamed as Sportsvan, or at least it has in Germany where that sounds like a good name. Over here it’s accepted that it’s neither a van nor sporty, so SV it is.

Rivalling the Qashqai and others of the same ilk, the SV manages to offer a greater level of practicality than the ordinary Golf, but retains the design cues of the car it’s based on that attract so many to the Volkswagen brand.

Turning the Golf in to the most sensible of sensible vehicles means that driving excitement and thrills are notable by their absence, but it’s none the worse for that.

There is 110PS on offer from the 1.6-litre diesel engine, but that leaves the car feeling a little underpowered at times thanks to the near 1.5-tonne kerb weight. Getting up to 62mph from a standstill takes 11.3 seconds is a side effect of the low power and higher than usual weight, making joining fast roads an exercise that needs planning carefully.

If that sounds bad, don’t worry. Once you’ve got the car up to speed it’s all rather refined and sophisticated, as well as surprisingly frugal. The engine sips at the diesel when cruising, making this an ideal car for long motorway hauls, while the engine noise is well isolated.

Show the Golf SV some corners and it’s certainly a competent car, if not a particularly engaging one. Much like the Golf it’s based on, it goes, turns and stops without any fuss, but you won’t be dashing out on a Sunday afternoon to take it for a cross-country blast.

That same sense of competence continues in the cabin, the layout of which is exceptionally crisp and clear. Tested here in mid-range SE spec, Volkswagen has squeezed adaptive cruise control, automatic headlights and wipers, DAB digital radio and Bluetooth connectivity amongst many other toys. Everything falls to hand easily, while even the infotainment system works well.

Everything, at every level, is… fine.

As well as equipment, Volkswagen has squeezed all manner of clever features in to the Golf SV, not least of which is more space than looks possible. Starting at the back, the boot is an impressive 500 litres in size, bigger than both the Ford C-Max and Nissan Qashqai. The seat back splits 40/20/40, allowing a great deal of flexibility and, while the seats don’t fold entirely flat, they free up enough space to increase storage to 1,520 litres.

The height of the boot floor can be adjusted, from the lowest level allowing more storage to boot lip level that presents an entirely flat floor to allow easy loading and unloading. The front passenger seat can fold down too, allowing you to squeeze a Billy bookcase from IKEA in to the car. You might imagine a surfboard there, but you know it’s going to be IKEA furniture.

The rear seats also slide forwards and backwards, freeing up leg room for passengers at the expense of boot space. Rear passengers even get sturdy picnic tables built-in, and can recline their seats back for a more luxurious journey.

It won’t cost you much either. Excellent fuel economy is promised, with an official figure of 72.4mpg, although I got 51.1mpg when it was put to the test. That’s still pretty reasonable by any measure. CO2 emissions are just 101g/km, so you’ll have a car tax bill of just £20 a year, while company car drivers will face a BIK burden of 18 per cent.

That sums up the Golf SV perfectly. It’s good value, eschewing the flash for the sensible. Real-world practicalities are given more importance than feel-good fluff, and that means it’s not emotionally as involving as Ford’s C-Max and nor is it as interesting as Nissan’s Qashqai.

Despite that, the SV can stand proud alongside its impressive competition. It’s got more practical touches than most, will cost less to run than most, and has a quality feel that most of its rivals just can’t pull off.

If you need more of the sensible side of motoring combined with a well-equipped and practical proposition, the Golf SV makes a very strong case for itself.

A car very much for the head, rather than the heart.

Model tested: Volkswagen Golf SV 1.6 TDI SE
Price: £22,785
Engine: 1.6-litre turbo diesel
Top speed: 119 mph
0-62 mph: 11.3 seconds
Power: 110 PS (108 bhp)
Torque: 250 Nm (184 ft-lb)
Combined fuel economy: 72.4 mpg
Road Test economy: 51.1 mpg
CO2 Emissions: 101 g/km
VED Band: B / £20 per year
Car insurance group: 11E
Kerb weight: 1,420 kg
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Phil is a motoring writer for print and web, failed racing driver, car hoarder and banger rally competitor. Nominated for the Headline Auto Rising Star award and a MGMW member, Phil freelances for outlets as diverse as Diesel Car magazine, and Cambridge Magazine, amongst many others. He also maintains a fleet of unloved motors, but spends most of his time driving an old Corvette.

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