The MPV segment in South Africa is currently experiencing something of a resurgence. Motor vehicle data specialist, Lightstone Auto, reports steady increases in MPV market share in the passenger vehicle market for 2015. More so, the growth in demand for MPV's can be attributed to the introduction of new products such as the BMW 2-Series Active Tourer and the Honda Mobilio and Suzuki Ertiga. Interestingly, Lightstone also reports very strong growth for crossovers (up 26,7% already in the first four months of 2015), but the sedan market remains under pressure.
With the arrival of Volkswagen's new Golf SV we can expect the MPV market to grow even further, adding to the sedan segment's suffering. Of course, Volkswagen already offers the Touran MPV, too.
The arrival of the Golf SV at the Cars.co.za office in Cape Town sparked a level of excitement as we needed a vehicle for a trip down the Garden Route. The Jaguar Simola Hillclimb in Knysna was our destination and the Golf SV was chosen to make the trip as part of this review. How would it fare on a long-distance drive?
The model on test here is the Volkswagen Golf SV 1.4 TSI Comfortline Automatic in Tornado Red.
Practical InteriorPacking a car for a long journey is the best way to test loading capacity. Throw three surfers into the mix and things get complicated very quickly. Practicality however is one of the SV’s core strengths, and thanks to an extended wheelbase, a longer, wider and taller body compared to the Golf hatchback, the SV is surprisingly spacious.
With a boot capacity of 500L and a 60:40 split rear bench that can slide forwards and backwards independently to increase space, the Golf SV can cope with just about any kind of load. The SV swallowed three surfboards with ease and there was still ample space for luggage, camera equipment and other surfing paraphernalia. With the rear bench folded completely flat, space increases to a generous 1 520L if need be.
Other cool practical additions include bottle holders in all the doors, a centre armrest with integrated storage compartment and two cup holders as well as a storage bin on the dashboard. This Comfortline model also comes fitted with tray tables for rear seat passengers and under-seat storage drawers. Interior optional extras fitted to this model include a panoramic sunroof (R9 200), leather seats (R11 500) and a 5.8-inch Composition Media Radio (R3 500).
Much like the Golf, the interior build quality in the Golf SV is of a good standard with quality fit and finish, which is difficult to fault.
On The RoadThis particular Golf SV derivative packs a turbocharged 1.4-litre petrol engine with 92 kW and 200 Nm of torque at your disposable. Power reaches the front wheels via a 7-speed DSG transmission. This derivative can also be had with a 6-speed manual transmission.
The open road is where the Golf SV proved its worth. The suspension is on the firm side, but not too firm, which means that the SV soaks up bumps reasonably well. This test unit is fitted with 16-inch ‘Toronto’ alloy wheels and the ride quality in the Golf SV is to be commended, as it provides good feedback through the steering wheel and delivers a comfortable overall driving experience. Overtaking is simple, with the tiniest pause from the DSG as it quickly downshifts to an appropriate gear and into the power band. Once the power tap is turned on, there’s more than enough grunt to get the job done quickly and swiftly.
Cruise control made the drive to Knynsa that much more relaxing and is fitted as standard on this Comfortline derivative. The cruise control is activated via the multi-function steering which is also rake and reach adjustable. With BlueMotion Technology, emphasis is placed on economy. Volkswagen claims 5.2L/100km on the combined cycle. My long-distance trip on the open road returned a real world figure of 7.2L/100km, which is okay for a fully loaded MPV.
Comprehensive FeaturesThe Golf SV is well equipped with a raft of safety features as standard. These features include a total of seven airbags, Electronic Stability Control (ESC), traction control, ABS with EBD and Brake Assist, XDS electronic differential lock, Multi Collision Brake, tyre pressure monitoring system and ISOFIX mounts on the rear bench. Our test unit was also fitted with the optional Park Distance Control (R4 500) and Light Assist (R1 100) which provides additional side lighting when turning into corners.
VerdictIf you are looking for a practical car, then the Volkswagen Golf SV is a winner with its impressive interior space and flexibility. In addition to this, the Golf SV, in my opinion, is a superb car to drive on a daily basis thanks to high comfort levels and performs exceedingly well on those longer journeys.
Although the Golf SV has lots of features, it comes up against some stiff competition in the MPV segment in the form of the Opel Meriva, Mazda5, Citroen C4 Picasso and Peugeot 3008. Optional extras are expensive too, so pick wisely. Buyers are advised to compare the Golf SV with its competitors here before making a final decision. Note, also, that in terms of overall packaging and design, the Golf SV makes an excellent (and much more affordable) alternative to premium-badged vehicles such as the Mercedes-Benz B-Class and BMW 2 Series Active Tourer.
Second OpinionI only drove the Golf SV for a day, but was impressed by its build quality and ride comfort. It really is an impressive piece of kit and a vehicle that punches about its weight in terms of premium fit and finish. The engine is a good one and I have only positive words to say about the DSG transmission. If transporting people and practicality is your thing, then the Golf SV is a good choice. If you're after something similar, but are budget conscious, then the Opel Meriva will do just as good a job. - David Taylor
Volkswagen Golf SV Price in South AfricaThe Golf SV range starts off with the 1.2 TSI Trendline manual priced at R292 500. The 1.4 TSI Comfortline manual is priced at R325 200 with the DSG derivative priced at R340 700. The unit on test here came in at R370 500 with all the optional extras fitted. There’s also a 2.0 TDI on offer at R343 700 for the manual and R359 200 with a 6-speed DSG.
Prices include a 3-year/120 000 km warranty, 5-year/90 000km service plan with service intervas set at 15 000km as well as a 12-year anti-corrosion warranty.
We Like: Practicality, comfort, space
We Don’t Like: Expensive options
Also Consider: Opel Meriva, Peugeot 3008, Citroen C4 Picasso, Mazda5