Green Car Review: 2 Takes on the 2014 VW Golf SV

What is a “Sportsvan?”  What is an “MPV?”  All fancy names to hide the fact that a carmaker is taking compact car frame and trying to extract as much space as possible.  BMW got into the fray with their new 2 Series Active Tourer.  They call theirs a “premium compact”. At least BMW doesn’t play games around their intent.

In May, Volkswagen introduced the Golf Sportswagon (or SV, if you live in the UK).  The vehicle is to be sold in Europe (for now), and represents VW’s hand in this game.  According to the Volks-folk, the SV is changes everything.  Here are 10 reasons why:

  1. The Golf Sportsvan is the completely re-developed and up to 90 kg lighter successor to the Golf Plus.
  2. The Golf Sportsvan makes its appearance with new engines;
the petrol and diesel engines consume up to 20 per cent less fuel.
  3. The Golf Sportsvan TDI BlueMotion sets top marks with fuel consumption of 3.6 l/100 km and 95 g/km CO2.
  4. The “MPV in the Golf line-up” offers an extremely variable interior with longitudinally adjustable rear bench seat.
  5. Despite its compact dimensions, the Golf Sportsvan offers ample space for five people plus luggage for long trips.
  6. The Golf Sportsvan is based on the Modular Transverse Matrix; its proportions and package dimensions benefit from this.
  7. The Golf Sportsvan is the first Volkswagen to be offered with the new Blind Spot Monitor plus Rear Traffic Alert.
  8. Systems such as PreCrash occupant protection, Lane Assist, Front Assist and City Emergency Braking heighten safety.
  9. Adaptive chassis control (DCC), progressive steering and the new heated steering wheel deliver even greater comfort and sportiness.
  10. The Golf Sportsvan is launching with new infotainment systems and mobile online services such as Google EarthTM.

But, as you know we like to look at things from multiple sources.  So lets look at 2 views on this new VW Golf.  The first is in the video above, from the German publication Autogefuhl.  The second comes from Autocar, a British car magazine.  Here we go…

Opinion 1, a video review (above) from Autogefuhl: “The Sportsvan is On Target”

2014 Volkswagen Golf Sportsvan

The reviewer is never identified, but at the end of the day, she thinks it’s a fine vehicle, worthy of the “Sport” in Sportwagen.  She believes one the two target markets is “Generation Silver,” perhaps a polite way to say “grey hairs.”  The other market is  families with 2 kids that don’t want a wagon or small SUV.  She makes a good call in that the SV looks a lot like the Mercedes B-Class.

Storage space in the 2014 VW Golf Sportvan

They fill the boot with luggage, and it looks quite roomy; especially once you put the seat down.  Good catch by the presenter on the difficulty to put the seats down from the cargo area.  She makes another on the flatness of the seam is that separates the flipped back seats from the cargo area. Something cool about the VW Golf SV? The back seats are adjustable, something you don’t find very often in a premium compact, SV, Sportvan, MPV or whatever.

She believes it’s a very quite and smooth ride. And sporty, providing you don’t take any  sharp turns (her words, not mine).

That she was crazy about the rear seat cupholder left me wondering….and the vibrating drivers seat is an invitation for all kinds of sophomoric hilarity.

Opinion 2, From Autocar: “Practical, but not as good as the Ford C-Max”

Which is a headline you probably don’t want to hear if you’re with VW’s media department.  Let’s hear it directly from the Brit’s mouth on looks:

Volkswagen Golf Sportsvan

The Volkswagen Golf SV TDI 1.6, VW’s replacement for the Golf Plus and a new model which we praised when we drove it on the continent earlier this year. Now it’s a chance for this compact MPV to prove itself on British asphalt.

Transplanting the regular Golf’s looks onto the SV, which stands for Sportsvan, has been successful, but the overall design remains conservative. That said, the SV appears practical from the outset; at 4338mm, it’s only 83mm longer than the regular Mk7 Golf, but that extra length has been put to good use inside.

OK, that’s not bad.  Then they start to compare…

Volkswagen Golf Sportsvan

The boot comes with 500 litres of storage space with the back bench in place – compared to the regular car’s 380 litres – and with the rear seats folded forwards a maximum load area of 1520 litres can be liberated. By comparison, the Golf SV’s key rival, Ford’s versatile C-Max, offers 471 litres with the rear seats up and 1723 litres with them down.

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.

And where Autogefuhl thought it drove well, Autocrat thinks less so:

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.

The kiss of death?

One of the challenges the SV faces is that it exists alongside some seriously impressive competition, and keener drivers will likely be swayed by the C-Max’s added driver involvement and flexibility.

Still, the SV remains an accomplished compact MPV, and its conservative looks might appeal to some. It’s relatively economical, spacious, well-equipped and comfortable, and a good choice for those in need of a larger, more practical Golf.

So…if you love Golfs, you’ll like this.  But if you have no brand preferences going into the buying process, you’d be an idiot to buy the VW Golf SV.  At least that’s how I read what Autocrat said.

For shites and giggles, heres a video review of the vehicle Autocar was crazier about, the 2013 Ford C-Max:

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Copyright 2014 Hybrid and Electric Car News

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Sebastian James

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Accept no substitutes

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