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First Drive: Golf Plus - on sale June 2005


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The Golf Plus goes on sale in the UK in June with high hopes. Volkswagen predicts this model, which is part family hatchback, part midi-MPV, can add 18,000 sales a year to the Golf’s 60,000 tally.

It’s slightly roomier than the hatchback and will carry an estimated £500-£600 premium.

The Plus is designed for young families looking for more space, but who don’t want the boxy looks of a conventional MPV. VW believes it plugs a gap between the five-door Golf and Touran MPV and is marketing it as “a Golf, just a little bit bigger”. This could be a problem, as the Golf is already one of the roomiest, comfortable – and expensive – cars in its class and buyers may not be prepared to pay extra for a ‘super-size’ model.

Its only link with the standard hatchback is the name and running gear. All the body panels are different, it’s taller, rides 95mm higher and the driver’s seat is raised by 75mm. Inside, the Plus borrows a few tricks from MPVs: the back seat slides lengthways, increasing rear legroom or luggage areas.

On the road, Golf Plus handles with the confidence expected from a VW hatch. Four engines from launch: 1.4 75bhp, 1.6 FSI 115bhp, 1.9 TDI 105bhp and 2.0 TDI 140bhp. The 1.9 TDI gets the DSG gearbox from June. Other engines will follow.

Strengths: Roomy for four, hatchback style
Weakness: Price versus premium Golf
Opportunity: Win sales from C-Max/ Scenic
Threat: Hatch is roomy and cheaper
The USP: Midi MPV functionality without boxy looks
Prices: £13,100-£19,300 est
Engines: 1.4, 1.6 petrol; 1.9, 2.0 diesel
Transmission: 5/6sp man; 6sp auto
Performance: Petrol: 16.2-11.8s 0-62mph, top speed 100-117mph. Diesel: 11.9-11.7s 0-62mph, 113-125mph
Efficiency: 39.7-39.2mpg; 52.3mpg-49.5mpg
Rivals: Focus C-Max, Renault Scenic, Vauxhall Zafira

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