Sporty yet sensible VW Golf

Sporty by name, sensible by nature. Practical, spacious and family friendly, the Volkswagen Golf SV 1.4 TSI Comfortline also offers serious value.

Words: Stephen Smith

Pictures: Stephen Smith & Supplied


A few years ago the thought of a bulbous VW Golf, supersized for extra family space, would have left me absolutely cold. Colder than those blue guys with icy hair in Game of Thrones. Now I have a child, and he has definitely warmed up my views on such cars. But before I tell you how practical, sensible and downright family friendly the Volkswagen Golf SV 1.4 TSI Comfortline is, let’s deal with the confusing name.

‘SV’ apparently stands for Sports Van, which is optimism that verges on false advertising. Making a car bigger and heavier without changing the engine does the opposite of making it sporty. So the very first thing we need to do is ignore the name, or pretend that the SV actually stands for something like ‘Serious Value’.

And I do think this SV offers serious value. The Golf itself, the regular hatchback version, is a functional, well-made and comfortable vehicle, but it’s almost the same price as this larger, more spacious SV – the premium for more metal and space is only about R17 000.

Golf SV_Interior2

The SV is 83mm longer, 8mm wider and 126mm taller, which means a far roomier cabin, particularly in the back seats, and boot space that has increased by 120 litres to 500 litres, when the back seats are in their rearmost position.

From the front seats the SV feels like any other Golf through and through, which means loads of good-quality materials put together with the emphasis on functionality rather than aesthetics, but faulting a German for being sensible is like faulting a Labrador for being loyal. The result is a cabin that will barely age, either in design or through wear and tear, until the car itself gives up the ghost many years and multiple owners down the line.

Golf SV2

The back seats are a quite interesting. For a start, there is all that extra space surrounding you – look over the back seats and the boot is that much bigger. The seats also slide backwards and forwards, to tailor the rear space to your needs. Two little kids in the back seats? Slide them (the seats, not the children) forward so the boot expands to fit the unholy amount of paraphernalia babies seem to need to travel anywhere further than the front door. Keep in mind that the SV is still a five-seater – for seven seats you need to have a look at the VW Touran.

The Golf SV is available in the familiar VW equipment lines of Trendline and Comfortline, the former being the more basic level. It still has all the safety and security features as standard (including Isofix for baby seats), and the necessary comfort features too, like air con and electric windows. Cruise control is reserved for the Comfortline models, as are fog lights, automatic windscreen wipers and a few other niceties.

One feature that will appeal to families is that these cars will park themselves, so you can finally turn around and tell the kids that they can stop asking “Are we there yet?” without the distraction of parallel or perpendicular parking. It’s a nifty feature that is scary at first, as you leave the steering wheel to take care of itself, but definitely takes the stress out of parking once you’re used to it.

When I saw the Golf SV I thought it was going to be very dull to drive, all wallowy around corners and sluggish on anything resembling an incline, but technology does marvellous things. In reality, the SV is barely discernible from the regular Golf from behind the wheel. The clever little turbocharged petrol engines (1.2 TSI and 1.4 TSI) produce 81kW/175Nm and 92kW/200Nm respectively, and thrum along at a decent nip.

The diesel, a 2-litre turbo, also produces 81kW, but with 250Nm of torque, and would be my choice. Both manual and DSG (automatic) gearboxes are available. And if you do want something sportier, take a look at the new
VW Golf GTI with the added Performance Pack – it was launched recently in South Africa and is simply fantastic.

While there are a plethora of hot hatches out there these days, some of them faster and more stylish than the Golf, very few come close to finding the balance between a hooligan’s car and executive transport that the GTI does. Of course, priced at R493 000 or thereabouts, it should tick an awful lot of boxes…

The Golf SV model range comes standard with a 5-year/ 90 000km service plan, 3-year/120 000km warranty. Prices start at R293 000 for the 1.2 TSI and go up to R341 000 for the 1.4 TSI DSG (auto).

Golf SV

Fact file

  • Name: Volkswagen Golf SV
  • Body type: Compact MPV
  • Engine capacity: 1,4-litre turbocharged petrol engine
  • Power output: 92kW Torque: 200Nm
  • Price: R325 200

Send this to a friend