What is it?
Yes, it's a slightly bigger, taller VW Golf that slips into a niche that no one thought of, and we're not sure anyone wants.
The Plus doesn't really drive like a Golf. It feels wallowy and sluggish and with the low power and limited torque of the cheaper engines it needs to be hustled a bit harder than you'd like. Where VW seldom falls down, however, is on the daily grind, and the Plus is a quiet and cossetting long-distance cruiser.
The ride is good and of course there's lots of space, so overall the Golf Plus is a relaxing way to get about.
Engines kick off with a 1.4 with 79bhp, rising to the turbocharged 1.4 TSI with 120bhp. That's it for petrols, the diesels starting with the new 1.6-litre with either 90 or 104bhp, before giving way to the two-litre TDI with either 108 or 138bhp. The higher-powered 1.6 matches the lesser 2.0 not only on power, but also price and torque. Economy is better too and it's available with the excellent DSG semi-automatic gearbox.
On the inside
The interior is almost exactly the same as before, give or take some new materials and the odd knob or two. It's still low on luxury, but its traditionally bulletproof interior does the no-nonsense basics very well. Whereas the Merc A-Class feels well-built because it looks expensive, the Golf Plus looks well-built simply because it is. There are slightly disappointing plastics and an absence of style in the dash layout, but if you're going to have kids pulling and poking things, you'll want your car as impregnable as possible.
The Plus is roomier than the standard Golf and the rear seats have a few acrobatic tricks like reclining and sliding, but it won't carry any extra people. Potentially handy options include a big box between rear seat passengers if there are only two of them, and a folding front passenger seatback for super-long loads.
The Plus shouldn't cost more to run than the equivalent Golf, which means outgoings should be well-contained. Most versions have just group 7 insurance, and servicing is on a variable schedule so if you go gently, you're rewarded with fewer visits to the dealer.