REVIEW DATE: 08 Apr 2009
Buyers love the Volkswagen Golf but how will they feel about one with some MPV flavour? Steve Walker checks out the second generation Golf Plus.
Sometimes the simplest ideas are the best and sometimes they're just, well, simple. There certainly didn't seem to be too much complex thinking behind Volkswagen's original Golf Plus. The advertising tag line said that the car was: "a Golf, just a little bit bigger" and that just about summed it up. Most of that extra size translated into extra head room too, something that the standard car wasn't obviously lacking in, so most buyers sensibly decided that they'd just make do with a Golf. Today, the Golf Plus is back and looking more like a fully-rounded model in its own right.
The Golf Plus was dreamt up to plug a gap in the Volkswagen model range where a five-seater compact MPV should have been. The Touran is the marque's compact MPV but it has seven seats and is substantially undercut by five-seater rivals like the Ford C-MAX, Renault Scenic and Citroen C4 Picasso. The Golf Plus squares up to these five-seater models, sitting above the conventional Golf family hatchback range. It leaves the Touran free to concentrate on the seven-seater market where the likes of Vauxhall's Zafira, the Mazda5 and Renault's Grand Scenic hold sway. However, where the original Golf Plus didn't offer very much additional practicality over a five-door Golf hatchback, the MK2 car sets out to address that with more of an MPV feel.
As a family vehicle prioritising economy and practicality, the Golf Plus gets a selection of the less powerful engines from the Golf hatch. Opening proceedings is a 1.4-litre 80PS unit that struggles to move the Golf with any great alacrity and renders the Golf Plus, which is 120kg heavier, slower still. Standstill to 62mph takes 14.9s with this unit so all but the most price-sensitive purchasers will want to upgrade. For petrol customers, that means the 1.4 TSI turbocharged engine with 120PS. This modern engine is far more flexible and can cover the 0-62mph sprint in 10.2s. The common rail diesel options are either 1.6 or 2.0-litres in capacity, the 1.6 offering the choice of 90 or 105PS power. The 2.0-litre units offer either 110 or 140PS. The latter engine can dip under the 10-second barrier for 0-62mph acceleration and hit a 127mph top speed, making it the quickest Golf Plus.
".the latest model looks a more compelling proposition"
Riding on the same underpinnings as the sixth generation Golf which in turn aren't a million miles away from those of the MkV model, the Golf Plus should inherit the secure handling and comfortable ride that have become the trademark of the model line. The entry-level petrol and diesel engines have a five-speed manual gearbox as standard, while the more powerful diesel and the 1.4 TSI petrol get six-speed transmissions as standard. These two more punchy units are also available with the slick DSG twin-clutch gearbox.
The visual differences between this Golf Plus and the Golf hatchback are clearer than they were with the previous generation model. The neatly integrated roof rails are the clearest point of differentiation and at the rear, there's a colour coded bumper and attractive red light clusters that utilise LED technology. Compared to the hatch, the Golf Plus is a fraction longer at 4,204mm but the real difference comes in the height of the vehicle which, at 1,592mm, is 113mm taller than the hatch.
The interior design is similar to that of the Golf but once again, Volkswagen has made efforts to set the Golf Plus apart, building in extra versatility and making the best use of the space available. The control interfaces and materials are lifted directly from the Golf, a sensible move as Volkswagen's family hatch is a class leader in this regard.
A pair of trim levels are available with the Golf Plus, S and SE. In the standard S model there's air-conditioning, a CD stereo, electric windows and electric mirrors. Externally, buyers also get body-coloured bumpers, mirrors and door handles, so only the 15" steel wheel will give the game away and many buyers will happily put up with those in exchange for a £1,300 saving on the SE. That's quite a gulf in price between the two trim levels but the SE does come with a decent specification. The Park Assist system is the highlight, with its ability to automatically steer the Golf Plus into a parallel parking space, but there's also cruise control, a front centre arm rest, a leather steering wheel and 16" alloy wheels.
All Golf Plus model have a safety specification that includes ESP stability control, ABS brakes and six airbags. There are also anti-whiplash head restraints and a deactivation switch is included for the front passenger air bag for use when a child seat is fitted.
Being fitted with the more efficient engines from the Golf range, the Golf Plus should prove affordable to run. The entry-level 1.4-litre engine is actually slightly more thirsty than the much more powerful 1.4 TSI, returning 42.8mpg compared to 43.5mpg in the turbocharged car. With a price differential of over £2,000, however, the low-tech 1.4 will still be the more cost-effective choice for many drivers. It's just a question of whether you can put up with the sluggish performance. The 110PS 2.0 diesel engine is impressively green (returning 55.4mpg and CO2 emissions of 134g/km). The 138bhp option offers almost identical economy and 135g/km emissions.
Fitting the DSG gearbox to the 1.4 TSI, 1.6TDI or 140PS 2.0-litre diesel-engined Golf Plus does blunt economy by between 2 and 5mpg, with emissions taking a similar hit. The £1,300 premium required to get the automatic will still be deemed worthwhile by many as this remains one of the very best units of its type on the market.
Volkswagen is asking its Golf Plus to operate in a strictly defined niche between its Golf family hatchback and its Touran compact MPV. In the past, the model has failed to convince buyers it offered sufficient extra practicality over a Golf hatch to make it worthwhile but the latest model looks a more compelling proposition.
Built on the hugely solid foundations of the sixth generation Golf hatchback, the Golf Plus can't really go too far wrong in terms of its basic execution. Its success will hinge on how it convinces buyers of its merits over the numerous other options for those who need five seats and space for the family.
The results below show the top GOLF PLUS deals on buyacar
|Volkswagen Golf Plus 1.6 TDI 105 BlueMotion Tech SE 5dr DSG diesel hatchback|
|Price £19,793||Save £3,897|
|Volkswagen Golf Plus 1.6 TDI 105 S 5dr diesel hatchback|
|Volkswagen Golf Plus 1.4 TSI SE 5dr DSG hatchback|
|Price £18,889||Save £3,766|
|Volkswagen Golf Plus 1.4 Luna 5dr hatchback|
|Volkswagen Golf Plus 2.0 TDI 140 SE 5dr DSG diesel hatchback|
|Price £20,666||Save £3,989|
|VIEW MORE DISCOUNT GOLF PLUS DEALS|
|For GOLF PLUS RANGE|
|OVERALL||7.7 OUT OF 10|
|Space / Versatility||9|
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