Port Elizabeth – While much has been written about gains in dynamics and efficiency that are afforded to products built on the Volkswagen Group’s new lightweight MQB platform, the true advantage of this highly adaptable architecture has, to date, yet to be fully appreciated within a South African context. The introduction of the new Golf SV (dubbed Sportsvan in European markets) highlights the versatile nature of this platform.
Using the hugely impressive Golf 7 as a starting point, the SV gains an additional 48 mm worth of wheelbase (to 2 685 mm) and a significant 126 mm worth of added height. But, where previous attempts at making a larger Golf (known as the Plus) were platform restricted to adjusting only the roof height – resulting in a somewhat awkward-looking, top-heavy creation – the SV gains a corresponding 83 mm in length, 8 mm in width and a small ground-clearance adjustment (upwards) in order to give the vehicle an altogether more resolved stance.
Of course, by stretching these dimensions, the advantage the SV model holds over the Golf on which it’s based is an increase in usable interior space. Behind comfortable (raised) front seats, the second-row bench of the SV can be adjusted fore and aft (by 180 mm) in a 60:40 split to either increase legroom or maximise luggage capacity. Headroom is, as is to be expected, generous.
A neat design touch sees the removable parcel shelf able to be stored neatly along with the full-size spare wheel below the boot board. Folding the rear seatbacks forward in a 40:20:40-split, the Golf SV is able to expand its class-leading 500 dm3 luggage space (with the back seats in their rearmost position) into a claimed 1 520 dm3 worth of utility space.
From the aforementioned raised driving position (boasting a wide array of adjustment both on the seat and steering column), outward visibility is impressive; the latter is helped by both a larger, flatter windscreen and the installation of additional three-quarter glass sections. With all the Golf 7-mimicking controls and instrumentation adjusted upwards, the driving experience, despite an average 100 kg weight gain across the range, feels as relaxed and fluid as the award-winning hatch on which the SV is based.
Of the most impressive traits inherited by the “Sportsvan” is the class-leading overall ride quality. Matching the hatch range, all models above the entry-level 1,2 TSI option are fitted with a multi-link rear suspension setup. Having driven both the Mercedes-Benz B-Class and BMW 2 Series Active Tourer in recent weeks, I would suggest it’s with this superior ride quality (along with a not insignificant price discount) where the Golf SV trumps these “more premium” rivals.
While Volkswagen South Africa forecasts the soon-to-be-released 2,0 TDI Comfortline as the likely top-seller (of the 100-150 units it hopes to move on a monthly basis), I can see the accomplished 92 kW 1,4 TSI Comfortline, mated with either a six-speed manual of seven-speed DSG transmission, stifling these predictions.
Asked whether the Golf SV is set to hurt Touran sales, VWSA feels confident the forthcoming Touran MPV, with its seven-seat configuration and more powerful engine range, will offer enough premium specification to distinguish itself from the SV. Whether potential Tiguan buyers still require extra ground clearance over the space afforded by the SV, however, remains to be seen.
Model: Volkswagen Golf SV 1,4 TSI Comfortline DSG
Engine: 1,4-litre, four-cylinder, turbopetrol
Transmission: seven-speed dual-clutch
Power: 92 kW at 6 000 r/min
Torque: 200 N.m at 5 000 r/min
0-100 km/h: 9,9 seconds
Fuel consumption: 5,2 L/100 km
CO2: 125 g/km
Top speed: 200 km/h
Price: R340 700
Service plan: 5 years/90 000 km
Service intervals: 15 000 km
*According to Volkswagen