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Road Test: Volkswagen Golf SV GT 1.5 TSI Evo (150PS) DSG

Volkswagen’s space-efficient compact MPV deserves wider recognition, reckons Alex Grant.

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SECTOR MPV PRICE £27,355 FUEL 54.3mpg CO2 118G/KM

Majoring on space-efficient practicality, the Golf SV probably isn’t a car that appears on most drivers’ radars unless they’ve got a need for what it can offer. Which makes this clever compact MPV is a bit of a hidden gem in the line-up.

In the UK, at least, that’s perhaps down to the way it’s marketed. Volkswagen sees this as a derivative of its best-selling nameplate, merging the space of a Golf Estate with the compactness of the hatchback version. It’s a popular segment in its home market, and 150,000 have sold globally since 2014, but the concept hasn’t chimed with British drivers; 74,605 Golfs were registered here last year, 2,626 of which were the SV. This may have made more sense sold as a five-seat Touran.

The packaging is brilliant. Only slightly longer than a Golf hatchback, it’s smaller than the likes of the Ford C-Max, Renault Scenic or Citroën C4 Spacetourer, and priced between those and the compact MPVs of Mercedes-Benz and BMW. Occupants sit higher than they do in a Golf, get bigger windows to look through, and rear-seat space in the back is closer to a Tiguan.

Which adds up to impressive versatility. The rear door apertures are barely tapered, so it’s easy to put kids in the back without stooping, and the bench seat slides 180mm forward, extending the boot capacity enough to rival the Golf Estate. However, it’s worth noting that the load compartments for the two are very different, with the Estate offering more space for long items.

The SV also loses points for not having three individual ISOFIX-equipped seats in the back, unlike the Touran, nor is there enough room for a child seat in the middle. Given that it’s otherwise exceptionally well suited to moving families around, with great visibility over the low windowline and a low load lip for getting buggies in the boot, room for three kids would have been a useful step up compared to the Golf.

Last year’s update was little more than a subtle nip-tuck of its understated styling, with a focus on new technology. So the cabin is typical high-quality, soft-touch Volkswagen fare, modernised with the new 8.0-inch infotainment systems featuring the usual connectivity features across the range. GT versions are the top of the pile, but add little more than upgraded fabrics, wheels and bodystyling to the otherwise well-appointed SE Nav.

However, it’s also the only trim to get the more powerful of the two 1.5-litre TSI petrol engines, as tested here. The 148bhp unit is a fantastic addition to the Golf SV line-up, too; it’s quiet, quick off the mark, lively enough for easy overtaking and offers almost 50mpg on the motorway, helped by the ability to freewheel and run on two cylinders when it’s not working hard.

That said, the 128bhp unit is more than ample for a car which, despite being almost as sure-footed as the Golf hatch, isn’t intended to set pulses racing. It’s also almost £1,000 less.

The trouble is, the Touran does a lot of this better, without blending into the Golf line-up or being any less entertaining to live with. As clever as the SV might be for families of four needing big flexibility in a small footprint, that grey area positioning means it’s unlikely to get the recognition it deserves.

What We Think:

The SV is compact, clever and brilliant for small families. But British buyers want SUVs, and it’s fighting for a slice of a segment which just doesn’t exist here.

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Alex Grant

Trained on Cardiff University’s renowned Postgraduate Diploma in Motor Magazine Journalism, Alex is an award-winning motoring journalist with ten years’ experience across B2B and consumer titles. A life-long car enthusiast with a fascination for new technology and future drivetrains, he joined Fleet World in April 2011, contributing across the magazine and website portfolio and editing the EV Fleet World Website.