In last week’s group test the 2.0 GT TDi Golf Plus trumped the Merc A-class and Volvo V50 for space, versatility and economy. So how does the Plus fare with a 1.6-litre petrol engine?
Very well, as it happens. The direct-injection four-cylinder settles into a fairly prickly idle after start-up, but on the run it feels amazingly elastic and, partnered by a light six-speed gearbox, it’s easy to wring the best out of it. You sometimes have to work it hard, especially on motorways, but otherwise it’s more than acceptable. And with an infinitely adjustable driving position it’s easy to get comfortable.
VW has increased the standard Golf’s spring rates and added a thicker rear anti-roll bar to control the Plus’s taller profile, and it’s pre-empted any increase in body roll. There’s marginally more understeer in tighter bends, but otherwise the Golf’s smooth, pliant ride and well-resolved handling survive undiminished.
The extra height (95mm more than a Golf) means VW has had to redesign every one of the Golf’s body panels in order to disguise the sudden growth spurt; the Plus’s waistline is higher, and the base of the windscreen further forwards. The Golf’s sedate styling has been given a makeover, to produce a car that looks little like an MPV, and more like a Golf in a newly-pressed suit.
On the inside you’ll find an extra 20mm of headroom. You sit much higher than in a standard Golf, and that provides a sizeable extra helping of legroom too, but the sliding rear seats allow for even more.
The final plus is financial: this S model costs just £575 more than the equivalent 1.6 FSI Golf five-door. Considering that buys you a more accommodating, more versatile, better-looking car unsullied by any serious deterioration in dynamics or any significant increase in size, we reckon it’s a price worth paying. So much so, it may spell the end for the regular five-door Golf. In years to come, that’s probably what this car will be called.