We're yet to drive the Golf Plus with the 1.2-litre petrol engine, but the turbocharged 1.4-litre petrol unit, which churns out 121bhp, delivers punchy performance. Volkswagen also offers two turbodiesel engines - a 1.6 (with either 89- or 103bbhp) and a 2.0-litre unit with 138bhp - and even the lower-powered version feels pretty gutsy.
The Golf Plus might look similar to the latest Golf hatchback, but under the skin it's more closely related to the previous-generation model. This isn't such a bad thing, because it means the Plus strikes a fine balance between handling and ride comfort, although it rolls more than the hatch through bends due to its taller body.
There's a fair bit of wind noise from around the door mirrors at motorway speeds, so the Golf Plus isn't as quiet as a regular Golf. However, road noise is kept to a minimum and the engines are smooth, with the higher-powered diesel particularly impressive.
A Golf Plus will set you back a few hundred pounds more than the equivalent Golf hatch, so it's important to make sure you really need the extra room. It won't hold its value as well, either, but otherwise running costs should be about the same.
The mechanical bits are tried and tested, so as long as you follow the servicing schedule everything should remain trouble-free. Owners rated its reliability as average in the 2012 JD Power survey. The interior trim looks smart with its chrome-ringed air vents set in a soft-touch dash, but harder plastics with sharp edges located in out-of-the-way places show where economies have been made.
The Golf Plus is well armed with active safety features (stability control and anti-lock brakes with electronic brakeforce distribution) and passive back-up (six airbags and front head restraints that are optimised to minimise whiplash). Security kit is pretty good, too, with deadlocks, a visible VIN and plenty of marked parts for every version.
You sit higher than in a Golf and there's a huge range of adjustment, but the small quarter-light front windows and the thick pillars restrict visibility through corners. The dashboard design is bespoke, but the switchgear is shared with other Volkswagens and is simple to use. The stereo has chunky buttons or, if you're willing to pay extra, you can have touchscreen controls.
The standard Golf is far from cramped, but the Golf Plus offers even more space and some added flexibility. Its rear seats are split 60/40 and each section slides back and forth on runners so you can change the balance between legroom and luggage capacity. The higher roofline makes life that bit easier when you're trying to strap in toddlers, too.
Buyers can choose from two trims, with entry-level S models featuring air-conditioning, a CD player, a multi-function computer and front and rear electric windows. The more expensive SE spec adds cruise control, alloy wheels and Volkswagen's Park Assist system, which makes parallel parking a doddle by steering the car into spaces for you.
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There's little wrong with this car, because you're getting the best engine and lots of kit. Some buyers might be tempted to stick with the cheaper S model, though.