Rather practical, if not as engaging as we'd like on the road.
Starting inside, the Golf SV is well packaged throughout. Most of the surfaces you're likely to touch are clad in soft-touch plastics or leather trim. It's a premium environment, with only a few cheaper touches like the air conditioning cluster reminding you of what could be unlocked had you upgraded to climate control, a £410 option.
The SV's seats are supportive, and most drivers should have no trouble finding a comfortable position. There's also plenty of space, both in the front and on the rear bench, with masses of legroom and headroom.
While the SV is well deserving of being called practical, it's not done with the same clever touches as the C-Max. Some of the rear stowage, including the door bins and the pockets on the back of the front seats, isn't big enough to hold anything substantial. While the rear bench can be moved forward and back for extra space, the awkward middle seat can't be completely stowed away like it can in the Ford.
To drive, the 1.6-litre TDI is competent, though feels slightly out of breath getting up to motorway speeds. That's likely not helped by this engine coming with a five-speed manual transmission, the gearchange action of which felt stiff in our test car.
It still provides smooth changes, but at cruising speed – at around 2000rpm – we yearned for the six-speed manual or seven-speed DSG transmissions found elsewhere in the range. There's noticeable wind noise from around the A-pillar and wing mirrors.
It's a credit to Volkswagen that, elsewhere, the SV feels very similar to the standard Golf on the road. There's the same composed handling, accurate and well weighted steering and very little body roll through corners, a package which should make covering long journeys a breeze.
The Driver Profile Selection system – which offers a choice of Eco, Normal or Sport driving modes, plus an option to configure your own – seems somewhat unnecessary in the Golf SV, although there are benefits to be had through using it. Throttle response is improved in Sport mode, while Eco can result in a notable improvement in fuel economy.
Even without Eco mode activated, and on a fairly spirited test drive, we averaged around 50mpg, although that's some way short of the claimed 72.4mpg Volkswagen quotes for this Golf SV variant.