Volkswagen Golf SV (2014-2017)

By Jonathan Crouch

Models Covered 5DR MPV (1.2, 1.4 PETROL / 1.6, 2.0 TDI DIESEL)


If you've ever got out of a Volkswagen Golf feeling you could do with a bit more space, the answer is right here in the chiselled form of the Golf SV. Here, back in 2014, the Wolfsburg brand at last brought us a proper, purpose-built family-sized five-seat MPV offering properly purposeful advantages to justify its premium over the standard hatchback model. It’s Volkswagen’s idea of what a Scenic or a C-MAX should really be and if you’re buying in this segment from this ear and want something with a really quality feel, you could find it hard to resist.

The History

Designing an MPV People Carrier needs to amount to more than just raising the roof height of a conventional family hatchback and giving it a different badge. Volkswagen knows that now after a sobering experience with their slow-selling Golf Plus model, launched in 2005 and updated in 2010. That car was supposed to be the brand’s answer to five-seat People Carriers like Renault’s Scenic and Ford’s C-MAX, contenders that were successful because they were properly developed to offer families significantly more. Constrained by restrictive old fashioned turn-of-the-century underpinnings, the disappointing Golf Plus couldn’t deliver that kind of proposition. Its replacement though, the Golf SV 5-seat people carrier that was launched in 2014, certainly could.

The ‘SV’ moniker stands for ‘Sports Van’, a name the importers here understandably didn’t much like, hence its shortening to a couple of simple letters. True, some utilitarian MPVs are little more than refurbished vans – Volkswagen’s own Caddy Life model for example. This one though, is a long way from being an LCV. By the same token, it also sits some distance from sportiness. What buyers do get though is a proper five-seat compact MPV in the Scenic or C-MAX mould that borrows from its conventional MK7 model Golf stablemate but, thanks to the hi-tech flexibility of the Group’s clever modern day MQB platform, doesn’t have to sit on that car’s restricted wheelbase. It’s free-er, in other words, to do its own thing - just as, after purchase, Volkswagen hopes potential buyers will be.

The SV sold in its original form until early 2018, when it was updated with slightly smarter looks and a more modern range of petrol engines, plus upgraded safety and media kit.

What To Look For

Most Golf SV MK1 owners we surveyed were very happy with their cars, but inevitably, there have been those who have had problems you’ll want to look out for. One owner reported squeaky noises coming from the suspension over speed humps. Another noted that his steering wheel made a slightly wheezy noise when going round bends slowly. There were reports of the boot juddering when closing. And fuel caps that were difficult to open, making re-fuelling a struggle. One owner reported vibration from the door cards at the front and the rear. And another reckoned that his infotainment system was choosing not to function in very cold weather – and at times, was choosing to control itself.

As for mechanical stuff, well we came across one owner who’d had a clutch go after just 4,600 miles – but that’s very unusual. Another experienced faulty injectors. And another experienced a power failure related to his DSG auto gearbox. Also look out for smearing wipers, problems with the cabin air blowers and a rattle from the gearbox over speed humps.

On The Road

Surely this car can’t handle exactly like the Golf hatch it’s based upon? After all, it’s got about 80mm more length and width, 120mm more height and it’s about 120kg heavier. You’d have to notice all of that around the corners - wouldn’t you? Really though, you don’t. We’re not saying there’s no difference at all: you do get a touch more bodyroll through tighter bends, but in truth, it’s not terribly significant. As it did with more ordinary versions of the Golf MK7 model, Volkswagen (a little meanly) decided to save a few pennies by equipping all mainstream versions with an old-tech torsion beam suspension set-up that can give you a bit of a fidgety ride at low speeds over poor surfaces. To avoid this and get a proper modern multi-link system like the one you’d find across the range in, say, a rival Ford C-MAX, you have to stretch to the very pokiest petrol or diesel Golf SV variants.

That’s a little disappointing, but the engine range on offer isn’t. A couple of 1.2-litre TSI units prop up the range, respectively developing either 85 or 110PS. Personally, we’d avoid these. The feebler variant (which takes over 13s to get to 62mph) will quickly run out of puff when your Golf SV is heavily loaded. The pokier one cuts that time by over 2.5s, but there’s not much point in buying it because for only a little more, you could get yourself a bigger-capacity 1.4-litre 125PS TSI petrol engine that’s a more satisfying choice all round. As for the diesel options, well there’s a 1.6-litre TDI 110PS unit and a 150PS 2.0 TDI. As usual, there are DSG auto gearbox options with most mainstream engines.


If you think you’d need a very good reason to buy a compact MPV with fewer than seven seats, you might like the Golf SV. It offers a range of very good reasons. The class, style and quality on offer here are certainly very tempting compensations for the absence of those extra chairs. Overall, this is a car that adds a dash of desirability to the business of owning what is, at the end of the day, nothing more than a practical family tool. The result is a car you could be proud of.