If you have a successful car it makes sense to capitalise on it by offering variants which will appeal to a wider proportion of the market.
And that’s exactly what Volkswagen has done by producing the Golf SV, the third variant of the current Golf after the hatchback and estate.
The letters aren’t really supposed to stand for anything, but actually come from the car’s name in Europe – Sportsvan – a moniker expected to fall flat with UK drivers and so it was rejected.
The look of the SV is like a Golf on steroids. The shape is familiar but it looks bigger and more muscular. Few cars have been more successful than the Golf and the latest, seventh generation, is without doubt exceptionally good even by VW standards.
But some families need a little more space – and some drivers prefer a little more height – and so the SV was born. It’s a development of the Golf Plus which hit the roads in 2005 but, just like the transition from the MkVI to the MkVII Golf, the transition from the Golf Plus to the Golf SV has brought with it a dramatic raising of the bar.
For starters the SV is 134mm longer than the Golf Plus and 83mm longer than the Golf, although still 224mm shorter than the Golf Estate. The extra length means passengers in the rear really can stretch their legs out ensuring extra comfort on long journeys. It also means more flexibility as the rear seat – with its 40/20/40 split bench – can be slid forwards or backwards to either increase leg room further or boost the luggage space under the tailgate.
And as the SV is all about space you would expect the boot area to be larger and it is at 500 litres, compared to 360 litres in the Golf.
An added bonus on the GT spec tested were the aircraft-style fold-up trays on the backs of the front seats to give those in the back a table to eat from or work on.
In recent years the proliferation of MPVs and SUVs has sparked the desire among more and more drivers for higher vehicles which are easier to get children or older people in and out of.
The SV fits into that category at 1,578mm, some 126mm higher than the ubiquitous Golf hatch.
That extra elevation – both driver and passenger front seats are also height adjustable – means better all round vision and generally more presence on the road.
Like the Golf and Golf estate the SV GT comes very well equipped, boasting adaptive cruise control, sat nav, front and rear parking sensors and sports seats. And that’s in addition to the standard spec on all models which includes a colour touchscreen, air con and post collision automatic braking.
It’s still a little surprising, however, to take delivery of a GT model which is powered by a 1.4-litre engine. The turbocharger, however, means that this small unit puts out 150bhp and on the road punches well above its weight, boasting lively acceleration of just 8.8 seconds for the 0-62mph dash.
It’s also a remarkably quiet engine, leading three people to ask me if the car they were in was electric or at the very least a hybrid.
By comparison with the Golf hatchback the SV will always be a niche model. But it does cater for a growing sector of the market, and because of the car it’s based on you know you are getting a top class product.
Model: Volkswagen SV GT TSI 5-door
Mechanical: 4 cyl, 1395cc 150 bhp petrol engine driving front wheels via 6-speed manual gearbox.
Max speed: 132 mph
0-62mph: 8.8 secs
Combined mpg: 50.4
Insurance group: 19E
CO2 emissions: 130 g/km
Warranty: Three years/60,000 miles