Volkswagen Golf Sportsvan Concept First Look

We've already seen the new seventh-generation Volkswagen Golf in both hatchback and station wagon bodystyles, but a third variant -- the Volkswagen Golf Sportsvan -- will debut at the 2013 Frankfurt motor show. Although Volkswagen calls this particular vehicle a concept, it's quick to note it's merely a warmed-over version of a production model that goes on sale in Europe in the middle of 2014.

The Sportsvan suffix may be new, but the formula behind the vehicle certainly isn't. Since 2004, Volkswagen has offered a compact multi-purpose vehicle variant of its compact Golf. Formerly known as the Golf Plus, the vehicle was taller and longer than an actual Golf hatchback, but smaller than a typical minivan..

The same goes for the new Golf Sportsvan. Unlike the Plus, which continued to use a platform dating back to the fifth-generation Golf, the Golf Sportsvan is built upon the same modular MQB platform as the new seventh-generation 2015 Golf, allowing engineers to further stretch key dimensions. At 170.8 inches long, the Golf Sportsvan is three-tenths of an inch longer than the latest Golf hatchback, but 8.8 inches shorter than the wagon. It is, however, taller than both, measuring in at 62.1 inches.

Dimensionally speaking, the Golf Sportsvan is a bit longer than the vehicle it replaces. Compared against the Golf Plus, the Sportsvan's wheelbase is 4.2 inches greater, and overall length is 5.3 inches longer than the vehicle it replaces. Even so, the Golf Sportsvan looks longer yet than its predecessor. Unlike the squab, bulbous Golf Plus, the Sportsvan's form is long, taut, and well proportioned -- traits difficult to achieve when shaping a compact MPV. Volkswagen's designers attempted to make de-emphasize the Golf Sportsvan's tall roofline by both stretching the side daylight openings, adding small windows in both the A- and D-pillars; and crafting strong, uninterrupted character lines that run from nose to tail.

The combination of a modular platform and a slightly larger footprint means the Golf Sportsvan offers a little more space within. Despite being no taller than the Golf Plus, the Sportrvan boasts an additional 0.4 inches of vertical space in front, and an extra 1.25 inches in back. The rear three-passenger bench seat cushion is split 60/40, and each section can slide fore/aft by seven inches, allowing users to adjust for hauling people or cargo. Opt for the former, and the Golf Sportsvan offers 498 liters of cargo space. Slide the seat forward, and that figure grows to 585 liters. Fold the rear seatbacks flat, and you'll find 1512 of cargo volume to play with. Fold the front seatback forward, and you'll also be able to carry eight-foot-long items with the liftgate firmly closed.

Given the Golf Sportsvan shares its platform with the latest Golf hatch and wagon models, it's not too surprising to learn it also shares its powertrain components. Four different gasoline engines are planned, ranging from a 85-hp, 1.2-liter turbocharged four-cylinder to a 148-hp, 1.4-liter turbo-four. Diesel options include a 108-hp, 1.6-liter turbo-diesel four-cylinder and a 2.0-liter, 148-hp turbo-diesel I-4. A six-speed manual is standard, and all options save for the least powerful 1.2-liter are available with an optional dual-clutch automatic. Interestingly, the XDS electronically locking front differential, found in the 2015 GTI, is also standard equipment on the new Golf Sportsvan.

As handsome, efficient, and flexible as the Golf Sportsvan may be, don't look for it to arrive stateside anytime soon. Volkswagen never brought the Golf Plus to our market in the past, and company officials tell us they presently have no plans to import the new Sportsvan stateside, either.

Kenneth Herbert
Considering America's penchant for supersizing everything, I'm surprised VW hasn't considered this a natural for the US.

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