Does bigger equate to better? In some ways, yes, when it comes to Volkswagen’s SV.
This roomy new wagon not only enjoys many of the virtues of the car on which it’s based – the Golf – but adds some practical features that might endear it to those who prefer their transport not just roomier, but also smarter.
The new car’s Euro name choice of “Sportsvan” was deemed less than ideal for the UK market (shades of “white van man”, perhaps). Just plain SV has been retained for South Africa. Confusingly, although it’s badged just “SV”, it is described as “an extension of the Golf family”.
The SV is the second body variant of the seventh-generation Golf. It’s significantly longer (48 mm in the wheelbase alone) and stands 126 mm higher. Thankfully, as we found on during our media launch drive in the Southern Cape, it rides like you’d expect a Golf to: comfortable, quiet, poised.
Where the SV’s predecessor – the Golf Plus – was essentially a puffed-up version of the original, the SV genuinely looks like it’s trying to be it’s own car rather than just a Golf-and-a-half. The Plus wasn’t brought here; VW insiders explain that, besides being “not an attractive car” it was regarded as “an old man’s car”. Sorry, Dad.
Although there’s a lot of Golf in the new car, there’s also plenty of glass, lending it a distinctly different style. The front end looks familiar, but the 5-window side aspect is unusual in a Golf derivative. Viewed from the rear, the car does appear a bit too tall. On the, er, plus side, the SV’s generous glasshouse means an excellent view out, even given the beefy A Pillar triangle.
The Volkswagen Golf SV features a novel load area set-up to create a practical, flat space for articles up to 2,1 metres long. The usual split/folding rear seat incorporates a separate load-through segment. It’s possible to create a completely flat floor in the load area and, for additional load (not to mention comfort) options the rear seat bench can be adjusted front-rear by 18 centimetres and backrest angle is adjustable, too. Cunningly, the rear parcel shelf can be stowed under the floor. Boot capacity is a healthy 500 litres, increasing to 1 520 with all seats folded flat.
Where does that leave VW’s Touran wagon? Well, the SV seats 5 and the Touran will be sold as a 7-seater.
2 petrols and a diesel
On the local market, the SV competes with the BMW 2 Series active tourer, the Mercedes-Benz B-Class and, to a lesser extent, the Citroen C4 Picasso. It costs about R15 000 more and weighs about 100 kg more than the equivalent Golf.
The big seller is expected to be the flagship 2,0 TDI, which according to VW significantly undercuts the competition. It’s paired with either a 6-speed DSG transmission or a 5-speed manual. Although there’s a tendency to specify 6-speed transmissions these days, particularly for torque turbodiesels, the 5-speed box is said to better match the 1,8-litre engine’s torque characteristics.
Under consideration if demand justifies it are a high-performance R-Line version and a 110 kW DSG-transmission model. A 4wd version using VW’s 4motion drivetrain is expected, but as this is geared more towards European conditions don’t hold your breath about seeing it locally.
Standard and optional passive and active safety systems include a standard ESC with XDS, automatic post-collision braking system, a PreCrash system to mitigate imminent collisions, a Driver Alert System and optional high beam light assist.
The SV’s turbocharged petrol engines (81 kW 1,2-litre and 92 kW 1,4-litre) feature Stop/Start and battery regeneration systems. There’s one diesel, an 81 kW 2,0-litre. The 1,2 gets a torsion beam axle, not multi-link like more expensive models.
Standard specification on all models includes SD card reader and CD player with 125 mm colour touchscreen; seven airbags; an automatic post-collision braking system; flat tyre indicator, multifunction leather steering wheel, front and rear electric windows, 15-inch alloy wheels with full alloy spare wheel, roof rails and manual air conditioning. Higher-spec models add features such as rain sensor, electrically adjustable and heated side mirrors and silver roof rails.
Price: from R292 500, including 5 year/90 000 km service plan.