What is it?
Taller, longer, more spacious. Those are the three things that underpin the idea of the Volkswagen Golf SV, which here we’ve driven in the UK, in ‘GT’ specification, for the first time.
GT spec brings with it sports suspension, which sits around 15mm lower than other Golf SVs, so despite the SV’s height increase of more than 100mm over a Golf hatch, and a 50mm increase in wheelbase, GT trim is the one that gives it the best chance of retaining more of the regular Golf’s agility.
What's it like?
Sports suspension, you should know, isn’t very sporty. Unless your idea of sporty is, perversely, a ride I thought was better than a similar-engined SV, in ‘S’ trim, which rode on 15-inch steel wheels with 65-profile energy tyres.
Maybe there’s less unsprung mass in the GT’s 17-inch alloys, or perhaps the sidewalls of the 45-profile tyres are softer than low-energy ones, but the SV’s ride, thus equipped, is both compliant and well-controlled, even without optional adaptive dampers.
The turbocharged 1.4-litre TSI motor of our test car pulled well from low revs, delivers its power smoothly, and the action of the six-speed ‘box is relatively slick. The steering’s accurate and responsive, making the Golf SV an easygoing companion. Perhaps less involving than a Ford C-Max, but its equal elsewhere.
Elsewhere it’s pretty Golfy, only with some buttons that are less aimed towards the driver, and a more airy feel. Rear accommodation is particularly generous, too, mostly as a result of the extra height.
That's useful if you regularly carry adult rear passengers, but just as appealing, we suspect, for those who will like the SV’s higher hip-point than regular C-segment hatches, making it an easier car to slide into.
Should I buy one?
That the Golf will outsell the SV – as the Ford Focus outsells the Ford C-Max – by such a significant margin mostly reflects how we feel about it.
Most people might as well stick to the regular version. But if you’re one of those who find its particular blend of attributes – a bit more space, a bit easier to step into, without buying into a much larger car – are what you need, this is the tall small family car we’d steer you towards.
Volkswagen Golf SV GT 1.4 TSI 140
Price £24,895; 0-62mph 8.8sec; Top speed 132mph; Economy 50.4mpg; CO2 130g/km; Kerb weight 1466kg; Engine 4cyls, 1395cc, turbo petrol; Power 148bhp at 5000-6000rpm; Torque 184lb ft at 1500-3500rpm; Gearbox 6-speed manual