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The Volkswagen Golf SV is everything a Golf-based MPV should be, but it fails to stand out in an increasingly fashion-conscious world
Jimi Beckwith
28 November 2017

What is it?

It’s a Golf. Well, a Golf SV, which stands for Sports Van. That’s a very European-sounding and not hugely inaccurate word: it’s a van and dynamically not far off the Golf. The two are 95% identical, after all, so claims Volkswagen

Chances are, though, it’s probably a while since you’ve seen one, given that just 2302 have been sold in the UK so far this year. For scale, that’s half as many as the Golf Estate, less than a tenth as many as the Tiguan, and one twenty-fifth as many as the Golf hatchback. It’s also almost half that of the Scirocco, which was discontinued earlier this year, in part because of slow sales. Sheesh. 

The SV we're driving is the facelifted model, which has been given a nip and tuck to bring it into line with the updated Golf, which arrived this spring. There are tweaks to the exterior and interior, but the engines are where the most change has been made.

There’s the new 1.5-litre TSI engine, now also used in just about every other mid-sized Volkswagen Group model, in three states of tune.

What's it like?

It drives like a Golf. A slightly taller Golf. That’s no bad thing either, not by half; it’s just as refined as the Golf and has near-identical handling and all the quality. 


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The only differences are a boost in practicality and a slightly rollier cornering attitude, due to that extra heft high up in the car’s silhouette.  

The 1.5 TSI Evo unit in its most powerful form feels less punchy than it does in the regular Golf, with the SV's excess weight denting performance slightly. It still has more power than you’ll need, though, and it only makes excessive noise above 5500rpm, a height unlikely to be reached in daily driving. The 128bhp is the sweet spot in the 1.5 TSI line-up, with the optimum mix of performance and economy. 

There is a lesser 1.0-litre TSI engine with either 84bhp or 109bhp, but even the higher-powered of these is sluggish, with a harsher engine note to boot.

Speaking of boots, its rear space is a healthy 590 litres with the seats up, and 1520 litres with the seats folded. Handily, and new for the facelifted SV, the rear bench slides forwards and backwards for either added leg room or boot space, although the move does leave a trench in the load area behind the seats in their forward position. It's not quite as large as the load area on the Golf Estate's 605/1620 litres, but is larger than the 445 litres of the T-Roc.

The engine range will be completed by 1.6 and 2.0-litre diesel engines with between 110bhp and 148bhp in the coming months.

Higher-spec SVs also get firmer adaptive dampers, removing the troublingly pronounced body roll of lesser models.

Should I buy one?

It comes down to what you like. There’s not much wrong with the SV - it, after all, has many of the same qualities as the Golf, just with a little extra weight on board. It's like a taller, slightly shorter Golf Estate - the car which makes the Golf SV’s place in the Golf family a little confusing.

Further to that, Volkswagen is realigning itself as a producer of emotional cars as opposed to rational ones, with products like the T-Roc epitomising this new identity

This leaves the sensible, staid Golf SV in a bit of a pickle. As the last MPV of its type in a segment which has been in seemingly terminal decline for a good while, as well as a comparative slow-seller compared with the potentially big-selling T-Roc, the likelihood of the SV finding many more homes before the end of its sales in the UK seems remote. The upcoming Polo-sized T-Cross SUV could make its troubles even worse

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It deserves every one of those sales, though, for persevering in a segment all but absorbed by SUVs. If any car represents the formerly strictly rational approach taken by VW in its products, it’s the Golf SV

Volkswagen Golf SV 1.5 TSI 150 DSG

Where Barcelona, Spain On sale December Price £24,490 Engine 4cyls, 1498cc, turbocharged petrol Power 148bhp at 5000-6000rpm Torque 184lb ft at 1500-3500rpm Gearbox 7-spd automatic Kerbweight 1345kg Top speed 132mph 0-62mph 8.8sec Fuel economy 55.4mpg CO2 rating 118g/km Rivals Renault Captur, Citroën C4 Picasso, Fiat 500L

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28 November 2017

I see they have lifted the T-Roc dash and plonked it into the SV? Or did the T-Roc come first and VW saw an opportunity to save money? No comment above about the hard dash complained about in the T-Roc either... Dolly the sheep would be proud of all these clones!


28 November 2017

At those sales figures at all. After all, one can buy a Touran for similar money and the model looks far too conservative for my liking, certainly over the previous model. 

28 November 2017

What a load of rubbish - who in earths name would spend £25k on this?

Also Autocar it’s becoming tiresome now giving all VAG products a minimum of 4* reviews. This is the most middle of the road dull car in exsistence. Doesn’t seem to do anything particularly well.

if this was a Vauxhall, Kia, Ford product etc it would not be awarded 4* 

28 November 2017

Dull, desperately dull.  Should sell well to retirees Belgique. 

29 November 2017
Marc wrote:

Dull, desperately dull.  Should sell well to retirees Belgique. 


An alternative view is that it's eminently more likeable than the desperate 'lifestyle' crossovers.

28 November 2017
So does it have a bigger boot than the golf hatch , or a smaller boot than golf estate? Does it have 3 separate seats in the back or a bench ? I know it's a boring car , but the reviewer has totally ignored the fact this is a useful family car and has given us very little helpful information.

29 November 2017

I tried the current one but it was no good for golf. An improvement on the common golf hatchback, but it was still either golf clubs or golf trolley in the boot, not both. Can they not learn from skoda?

The new one supposedly "provides ample space for the whole family and plenty of luggage".  It concerns me that you seem to do this by moving the back seat fore and aft in thirds, which then negates the value of a boot liner and exposes the contents of the boot to clear view. 

It would be nice one day to have a Golf other than an estate that I could use for golf, allowing me to go elsewhere afterwards and leave all my gear safely in the boot out of sight. 

As Sundym says, these are the useful practical things that we hope to learn in a motor magazine. 

29 November 2017
Check or proof read this stuff. 128 or 148 bhp. Review says TSI130, specs are for TSI150.

29 November 2017

would be dull spirited enough to think "Sports Van" any sort of title for a vehicle!

29 November 2017

In the picture the driver gets a sports seat whereas the passenger makes do with a standard seat - do you have to pay extra for two identical seats???


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