On the Plus side it’s a larger Volkswagen Golf

If you want more than a regular hatchback, Volkswagen's Golf Plus certainly adds up, says Iain Dooley, PA senior motoring writer.

Engines – The Golf Plus shares much with its slightly smaller Golf relative, and that includes engines. Predictably the former's focus is on being sensible, which is why engine choice is largely modest in terms of horsepower. What's not in short supply is ability, as Volkswagen's engine line-up, be it petrol or diesel, is hard to beat.

Exterior –The Golf Plus is essentially an XL Golf for buyers seeking a compromise between the versatile elements of a full-blown people-carrier and the refined driving characteristics of a regular family hatchback. As such, the Golf Plus hides its extra girth well yet is easily recognisable as, well, a Golf.

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Interior – Fans of the Golf will feel right at home in the Golf Plus, as the car's cabin almost mirrors that of the regular hatchback. Dark but family-friendly and durable materials abound, which should please buyers seeking a tough but stylish interior. And, of course, there's no shortage of cabin space. The extra legroom and height in the back makes family motoring that bit more civilised.

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Driving – In non-GTI trim the Golf isn't famous for thrilling keen drivers, and the Golf Plus is in the same boat. VW's focus here is on presenting a comfortable, refined and confidence-inspiring ride for everyone. The plush experience is topped off by a range of responsive and refined engines.

Ownership – With its Golf-like footprint but a little more room inside, the Golf Plus offers a more flexible and spacious interior than your average family hatchback but without the size penalty of a full-size people-carrier. And being a VW the Golf Plus is full of well-proven technology, which should boost peace of mind, plus there's a good selection of sensible and frugal engines to choose from.

What to look for – Being a popular choice with families, it's important to check for cabin damage – soiled upholstery and broken trim can prove costly to put right. On the outside, parking dents and kerbed wheels are classic urban scars with the potential for the latter to hide more serious damage if you don't pay attention during the test-drive.

Model history – 2005, Volkswagen releases its 'XL Golf', the Golf Plus. Offering an affordable balance between family hatchback and compact people-carrier it shares much with the regular Golf – trim levels, engines, looks, refinement. It skips the sportier variants of the regular Golf in favour of increased refinement and comfort, while boot space is greater and more flexible.

Reasons to buy – Good compromise between hatchback and multi-purpose vehicle, Golf brand image, cabin quality, frugal engines and refinement.

Reasons to beware – Can't match a conventional multi-purpose vehicle for cabin flexibility, no performance version, five-seater.

Pick of the range – Golf Plus 1.6 FSI SE.

What to pay – 2005 05 �4,900; 2005 55 �5,150; 2006 06 �5,610; 2006 56 �5,880; 2007 07 �6,450; 2007 57 �6,760; 2008 08 �7,370. Figures relate to showroom prices for cars in A1 condition.

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