A car for the family
BRIAN BASSETT stretches it in the new Volkswagen Golf SV.
THOSE who read this column regularly will know that I have great respect for Volkswagen.
The company has come to be the second-largest motor manufacturer in the world, second only to Toyota.
In South Africa the same applies, with Toyota and Volkswagen filling the top two spots. The success of the Volkswagen brand is based on enduring quality and purposeful design.
The newly launched Golf SV is no different. I am grateful to Kevin Pillay, dealer principal of Baron’s, Pietermaritzburg, who has just won the Volkswagen National Dealer of the Year award for his dealership, as well as to Alison Wiltshire, new-car sales manager for the dealership, who has also just won a national award for her work and for whom nothing was too much trouble, for making a new Golf SV available to me for a few days.
Volkswagen says that the Golf SV looks a lot like the Golf, but you have to look closely to find traditional Golf styling cues.
For my money, the new SV is larger and better looking than the Golf, although the Golf itself is no slouch in the aesthetic stakes.
The front of the SV is aggressively styled with a three-slatted grill and centrally placed Volkswagen badge linking the sweptback headlamps, while the colour-coded front bumper unfolds into sleek, contoured fog lamps.
The bonnet has two ribs, which lead your eye upwards to the steeply-inclined windscreen and high roofline traced by silver-anodized roof rails and ending in a pronounced boot spoiler.
At the rear, the twin exhausts add an air of businesslike effectiveness, while the large rear door gives easy access to the generous boot area.
The interior of the SV reflects refined functionality. The seats both front and rear are very comfortable and robustly upholstered, although full leather is available as an option. The fully adjustable front seats and steering allow drivers to select a position best-suited to their needs.
The high roofline adds spaciousness to the interior and the vehicle is a full five-seater, as I found out when the Fatpack went to tea at a restaurant in the Curry’s Post area.
At no stage, even after a number of scones and cream, did the car feel full, and all four bulky gentlemen were not only quite comfortable, but also had no trouble in accessing the vehicle.
The dashboard is neat and functional.
Controls are easily accessible and at no stage did I have to take my eyes off the road to operate them.
The centrally placed eightinch touch screen is useful and I particularly liked the 3D map views and MP3 functionality, together with the eight-speaker radio/CD with SD card and all of the plugs needed in an electronic age.
The leather-covered, threespoke multifunction steering wheel is a pleasure to handle and many of the functions relating to the car and your journey, like the cruise control, can be operated from here.
The boot space with all seats in place is a generous 500 litres. By folding the seats flat this can be extended to 1 520 litres.
The quality interior also has a wide range of storage space to make life easier for the family.
Safety and security
The Golf SV has a 5-Star Euro NCAP rating, so it is one of the safest cars you can buy.
There are driver and passenger air bags, with key deactivation for the passenger bag.
The vehicle also boasts side and curtain air bags, as well as a knee air bag for the driver. Side impact bars offer enhanced safety and there are seat belts for all and anchors for child seats to Isofix standards.
Then there is also ABS, EBD, Auto Hold and a Multi-Collision Brake System.
I found the Park Assist, Parallel Park Assist and the rear-view camera to be very helpful, and the passenger side mirrors with the curb-view feature adds materially to the vehicle’s safety.
There is an anti-theft alarm, central locking and a rather useful tow-away and tilt protection feature.
Performance and handling
I drove the two-litre TDI Comfortline DSG Automatic, which is equipped with a four-cylinder diesel engine putting out 81 kW of power and a considerable 250 Nm of torque via a sevenspeed automatic gearbox.
The SV is designed firstly as a family vehicle, ideal for all the fetching and carrying that goes with modern family life and the occasional time away in the Berg.
It is not a robot racer, but in town it is a pleasure to drive and easy to park, while providing a feeling of safety and security.
On the N3, the car holds the road well and the torque makes passing long loads easy, even on hills with the Fatpack on board. I used a visit to friends who have a smallholding in the Ashburton area to drive the car over about 20 km of dirt road, sometimes at speed.
While the Golf SV is not designed as an off-roader, the car put in an excellent performance and displayed absolute stability, even on sharp sandy bends.
Acceleration is not bad either, with 0-100 km/h coming up in about 11 seconds, and a top speed, should you ever need it, of 190 km/h.
Fuel consumption in the diesel is brilliant. According to the car, I got 5,2 l/100 km.
Costs, guarantees and the competition
There are five models in the Golf SV range. The entry level manual six-speed 1.2TSI Trendline costs about R294 00, while the rangetopping 2.0 TDI Comfortline DSG is around R360 000.
The car comes with a threeyear or 120 000 km warranty and a five-year or 90000 km service plan, with 15 000 km service intervals.
There is also a 12-year, anti-corrosion warranty.
As to the competition, the B segment is one of the most competitive in the RSA, so give yourself the pleasure of browsing widely before buying.
This is one Golf that is as much at home on dirt roads as it is in the school parking lot.
Not even the Fat Pack could fill up all this rear leg room.