Volkswagen Golf SV (2013-2020) Review

A bigger and more practical version of the Golf. It’s a sensible choice but lacks the desirability of SUV-inspired crossover rivals.

Strengths & weaknesses

  • Roomy interior
  • Good to drive
  • Strong engines
  • Dull styling
  • Not enough practical touches
  • Not cheap
Volkswagen Golf SV prices from £9,295.
Finance from £230.06 / month.

The VW Golf SV is essentially a slightly larger and more practical version of the standard VW Golf. Effectively a five-seat MPV, it’s aimed at rivals such as the Citroen C4 Picasso and Renault Scenic. These machines have lost out in the practicality stakes to the more fashionable SUV-inspired crossover models such as the Nissan Qashqai, Renault Kadjar and VW Tiguan, but if you don’t mind the VW Golf SV’s slightly dour and sensible design approach then it makes a practical and comfortable family car.

There are five trim levels and four engines to choose from, with prices ranging from £21,480 for the basic S mode with its low powered 84bhp 1.0 TSI petrol engine through to the £29,800 GT version fitted with the 2.0 TDI diesel engine DSG automatic gearbox. However, it’s the models in between these extremes that deserve your attention, particularly the well-equipped SE models.

It’s clear the VW Golf SV (the ‘SV’ stands for SportsVan, although it’s not very sporty) is closely related to the standard Golf, but the SV is taller, with driver and passenger sitting around 85mm higher, while the wheelbase has been extended by 50mm for greater space inside.

Practicality is what the Golf SV is all about, something that becomes clear when you climb aboard. The interior is tall with plenty of headroom, while those in the back get lots of legroom. This can be extended further thanks to a sliding rear bench that allows you to choose between extra space for passengers or increased luggage capacity. With the seat slid fully back there’s 500-litres of space, while pushing the bench forward frees-up 590-litres. These are respectable figures, but the Citroen C4 Picasso features a similar set-up and offers between 537 and 630-litres. However, you need SE trim or above for the full complement of family-friendly features, including trays for the backs of the front seats and storage compartments in the dashboard and ceiling, plus sliding drawers hidden under the front seats.

Regardless of version, the interior of the VW Golf SV is well-finished from high quality materials. Entry-level S versions go without a leather trimmed steering wheel, but in all other respects it feels as classy and upmarket as other versions. You sit relatively high behind the wheel, while the dashboard is clearly laid out and easy to use with all models getting a centrally mounted eight-inch touchscreen infotainment screen - although with varying levels of functionality, as only SE models and above get Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

The Golf comparisons continue when driving the VW Golf SV, which feels similar to its slightly smaller cousin on the road. For many the slightly raised driving position will be a positive, helping to create a better view of the road ahead, while the steering is precise and well-weighted, boosting confidence. Despite its larger size it’s an easy and effortless car to drive and feels more responsive than many higher-riding SUV-inspired crossover rivals. It’s not a car to get the heart racing, but it’s comfortable and composed. The GT gets lowered suspension, but the negligible increase in agility isn’t worth the stiffer and more jittery ride over bumps.

Both the petrol and diesel engines (with the exception of the slow 84hp 1.0 TSI) are decent performers and far from thirsty. However, even the more powerful 113bhp 1.0-litre TSI petrol can be overwhelmed by a full load, while the top-of-the-range 2.0-litre TDI diesel doesn’t offer enough performance or economy gain to justify its higher price. For most, the smooth and willing 128hp 1.5 TSI Evo delivers the best blend of get-up-and-go and low running costs. As for gearboxes, the seven-speed DSG twin-clutch auto changes gear smoothly and is easy to use, but unless you spend a lot of time around town we’d stick with light and precise six-speed manual.

Key facts

Warranty 3 years/60,000 miles
Boot size 590 litres
Width 1807mm
Length 4351mm
Height 1613mm
Tax (min to max) £150 to £170 in first year, £145 thereafter

Best Volkswagen Golf SV for...

Best for Economy – VW Golf SV 1.6 TDI DSG SE Navigation

The 1.6 TDI is easily the most frugal choice, particularly when paired with seven-speed DSG gearbox. SE brings all the kit you’ll want

Best for Families – VW Golf SV 1.5 TSI Evo SE

SE trim adds a host of family friendly touches, while 1.5 TSI Evo mixes punchy performance and wallet-friendly economy.

Best for Performance – VW Golf SV 1.5 TSI DSG Evo GT

Combination of turbocharged 1.5-litre petrol and seven-speed DSG gearbox results in 0-62mph in a claimed 8.8 seconds

One to Avoid – VW Golf SV 2.0 TDI DSG GT

Sporty GT trim is at odds with the Golf SV’s family duties, while big diesel engine is expensive to buy and barely more efficient than petrols


Nov 2013: VW Golf SV launched at the Frankfurt Motor Show
May 2014: VW Golf SV arrives in UK showrooms in S, SE and GT guises, with a choice of 1.0, 1.2 and 1.4-litre petrols, plus 1.6-litre and 2.0-litre diesel. Five and six-speed manual gearboxes are available alongside six and seven-speed DSG transmissions
October 2017: Facelifted VW Golf SV arrives. New SE Navigation trim level is added, plus engine range is rationalized to 1.0 and new 1.5-litre petrols, while 1.6-litre and 2.0-litre diesel are carried over from the old car. Six-speed DSG gearbox is dropped from the range
Jan 2018: New Match trim level joins the line-up

Understanding Volkswagen Golf SV names

Trim Match

The Golf SV trim levels run to S, SE, SE Navigation, Match and GT. Each trim denotes what equipment the car gets and, in the case of the GT, what sort of styling treatment it gets.

Engine 1.5 TSI Evo

There’s an engine for every taste and budget available with the Golf SV. Petrols are badged TSI and run to a 1.0-litre (with either 84hp or 113hp) and 1.5-litre (128hp or 148hp). Evo name refers to cylinder deactivation technology that temporarily cuts two of the car’s four cylinders to save fuel. Diesels get TDI badging and on Golf SV are available in either 113hp 1.6-litre and 148hp 2.0-litre guises.

Gearbox DSG

DSG refers to VW’s sophisticated twin-clutch automatic gearbox, which is optional on most engines and standard on 2.0-litre TDI and more powerful 1.5-litre TSI. The-level 1.0-litre TSI and 1.6 TDI get a five-speed manual, all other versions get six-speed manual.

Volkswagen Golf SV Engines

Petrol: 1.0 TSI, 1.5 TSI Evo Diesel: 1.6TDI, 2.0 TDI

There are four engines to choose from when buying a VW Golf SV - two petrols and two diesels. Mated to these are either five or six-speed manuals, plus an optional DSG twin-clutch automatic gearbox.

Only available on the entry-level S model is an 84bhp version of the 1.0-litre TSI petrol. With 175Nm of torque it performs better than you’d expect, but start to add people and luggage (as you’re likely to with this kind of car) and it starts to struggle. It’s not just the lack of outright performance (the 0-62mph sprint takes a leisurely 13.0 seconds) that makes this engine hard to recommend, it’s also the fact it’s only available with the five-speed manual gearbox.

A far better bet is the 113bhp version of the same 1.0-litre TSI. With more power and torque (200Nm compared to the 84bhp’s 175Nm), this engine copes better with the Golf SV’s bulky body, plus it comes with a six-speed manual as standard and is available with the optional seven-speed DSG. Better still, this little engine is smooth and willing, happy to be worked hard when you need to make progress.

The biggest petrol engine is the 1.5-litre TSI Evo, which is available with either 128bhp or 148bhp, the latter coming exclusively with the seven-speed DSG auto. Regardless of power output it’s a smooth and punchy performer, barely breaking a sweat even when the Golf SV is loaded to the rafters with occupants and their luggage. In reality, there’s little between the two in the real world, meaning there’s little to recommend spending extra on more powerful version.

VW was the car company that is most closely related to the ‘Dieselgate’ scandal, but that hasn’t stopped it continuing with its TDI models. If you’re planning on doing a lot of miles then these engines are still worth considering, particularly the 1.6 TDI. It’s decently refined, only betraying its clattery diesel roots when starting from cold, plus with a healthy 250Nm of torque it pulls hard up hills and when overtaking. It’s particularly well-suited to slick and smooth seven-speed DSG gearbox.

The larger 2.0-litre TDI has the on-paper performance advantage, but on the road the differences are harder to detect. It’s also no quieter than the 1.6 TDI, plus its only available with the seven-speed DSG automatic gearbox, making it a very expensive choice. What’s more, in day-to-day use it’s not much more economical on fuel than the 1.5 TSI Evo petrol.



Fuel economy


Acceleration (0-62mph)

Top speed

1.0 TSI


47.1 - 47.9mpg




1.0 TSI


42.2 - 43.5mpg


10.5 - 10.7sec


1.5 TSI Evo


41.5 - 45.6mpg


9.3 - 9.6sec


1.5 TSI Evo


40.9 - 42.2mpg




1.6 TDI


45.3 - 46.2mpg


10.6 - 11.1sec


2.0 TDI


49.6 - 52.3mpg




Volkswagen Golf SV Trims

S, SE, SE Navigation Match, GT

The entry point to the VW Golf SV range is the S model. It looks a little dowdy on the outside, largely as a result of its small 16-inch steel wheels that are covered by cheap-looking plastic wheel trims. This pared back feel continues inside where you’ll find a plain plastic steering wheel and hard-wearing cloth trim for the seats. Still, the essentials such as air-conditioning and electric windows are present and correct, while the eight-inch touchscreen infotainment system features a DAB radio and Bluetooth connectivity. Safety kit is fairly comprehensive too, with seven airbags and autonomous emergency braking. However, it’s worth noting that the S is limited when it comes to extra cost options, with only fairly basic upgrades such as cruise control, a leather steering wheel and heated seats being available.

Next up is SE, and this is arguably the sweet spot on the range. Not only does it come with desirable extras such as alloy wheels and adaptive cruise control, but its eight-inch touchscreen is compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, meaning you can easily access all your smartphone functions on the move, including navigation. Crucially, it also comes with the vital family-friendly extras, such as folding tables on the backs of the front seats and extra storage systems, including a compartment in the roof, a large lidded cubby on the dashboard and drawers under the front seats.

As its name suggests, the SE Navigation is identical to the SE apart from the addition of satellite navigation, which is operated using the existing eight-inch infotainment screen.

Match takes the SE specification and adds some visual flourishes, including new alloy wheels and privacy glass for the rear windows. Inside it gets bespoke fabric trim and some brushed metal trim inserts, plus there’s some extra kit in the form of powerfold door mirrors.

Sitting at the top of the range is the GT, which gets larger 17-inch alloy wheels and sports suspension that’s 10mm lower than standard. The racy theme continues inside where the driver and passenger get more heavily bolstered seats for greater support and an ambient lighting that uses LED strips to create an atmospheric vibe after dark.

Other the S, the Golf SV is available with a wide variety of options. However, given that the SE versions and above are well equipped there’s no need to go mad with the extras. Given the Golf SV’s family friendly focus then item such as keyless entry, and side airbags for the rear seat are worth considering, as is the panoramic glass sunroof that brings extra light into the cabin. For many the automatic parking system, which takes control of steering when parking, will be worthwhile. The powerful LED headlamps are good but expensive, as is the semi-autonomous driving upgrade to the adaptive cruise control.


Volkswagen Golf SV Reliability and warranty

The VW Golf SV sells in relatively small numbers, so it’s no surprise to find it didn’t feature in Auto Express’ Driver Power satisfaction survey. However, it’s very closely related mechanically to the standard VW Golf hatchback, which finished a creditable 41st overall in the 2019 poll, with owners reasonably impressed with reliability and build quality.

Like all mainstream VW models the Golf SV is covered by the manufacturer’s standard three year and 60,000 mile warranty.

Used Volkswagen Golf SV

The VW Golf SV is a rather unfashionable choice in the face of the current crop of SUV-inspired crossover models such as the Nissan Qashqai and VW’s own Tiguan, so it’s no real shock to find there are just 63 examples for sale on Buyacar. Prices range from £9250 to £25,990 for nearly new models, while monthly finance prices stretch from £148 to £463.

Many of the VW Golf SVs for sale are diesel powered, with most of those being the 1.6-litre TDI. It’s a frugal and punchy engine, even though its 108hp power output is five horsepower down on the current version. It also meets the latest emissions regulations, so will be accepted in the increasing low emissions zones. If the price is right, then it’s worth considering.

There are also plenty of the 123bhp 1.4-litre TSI, which for most families will deliver the best blend of performance and affordability. It’s not as frugal as the latest 1.5 TSI Evo, but it’ll comfortably return 40mpg and its refined and gutsy even when fully laden.

Many of the Golf SVs on sale are the SE trim, and this provides most of the kit you’ll need. However, it’s worth bearing in mind that those built before the 2018 facelift don’t have Apple CarPlay and Android Auto function. You can stream music and make handsfree phone calls using Bluetooth, but if you need sat-nav it could be worth seeking out an SE fitted with this desirable extra, or spending extra on a GT.

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