These limitations meant the only way was up, hence the tall, awkward silhouette that was one reason why the Plus sold just 42,248 units during eight years on sale in the UK.
Taking advantage of the Mk7 Golf’s flexible MQB architecture, the Golf SV (known as ‘Sportsvan’ on the continent) offers ‘proper’ MPV proportions. Size-wise, it’s similar to Ford’s fun-to-drive yet practical C-Max.
The SV’s 2685mm wheelbase is around 50mm longer than that of the £1245-cheaper Golf hatchback and £550-cheaper estate, but at a handy 4338mm in overall length, it’s closer to the 4255mm-long hatch than the 4562mm-long load-lugger.
The result is a shape that majors on cabin space, yet at 500-590 litres (depending on the position of the rear bench), the SV’s boot isn’t significantly smaller than the estate’s 605-litre cavity. Drop the rear seatbacks and the MPV holds a respectable 1520 litres versus the estate’s 1620.
Crucially, despite these dimensional mutations, VW has largely managed to retain the hatchback’s considered aesthetic using tricks such as a glasshouse-extending fifth side window and bonnet-lengthening creases. Glimpse the SV on the road and you could mistake it for a normal five-door Golf – not an error you’d have made with the Plus.
There’s familiarity in the specially designed cabin, too. Neat switchgear, high-quality finishes and sound ergonomics reprise the standard Golf, but the controls are more democratically positioned, being less angled towards the hot seat. The driver’s hip-point is at least 59mm higher than in the hatchback, too, giving the driver a good view through the glass expanses while avoiding the feeling of being perched too high.
Door bins are generous front and rear, but cunning storage solutions are few. Mid-range trim brings drawers under the front seats but they’re small and awkward to access. Likewise, the rear seating lacks an innovative edge. The bench slides 180mm fore and aft and folds and reclines, all of which can be done as a whole or with a 60/40 split.
A top-spec C-Max’s rear seats additionally tumble forward or can be removed altogether, and its central seat can stow away to free up more room for the remaining tenants. The SV’s middle pew is both skinny and inhibited by the MQB’s fixed transmission tunnel.