Review and road test of the Volkswagen Golf Alltrack
DRIVING INTO THE ROUGH
Volkswagen's Golf Alltrack offers a more rugged take on the urbane Golf Estate. Jonathan Crouch reports.
Ten Second Review of the Volkswagen Golf Alltrack
Volkswagen continues to offer its ruggedised Golf Alltrack compact estate. This all-wheel drive special might be all the car you ever need and is offered only with 2.0 TDI 200PS diesel power. You get a raised ride height, a tougher look and some off-road driving tools. If you really don't like the idea of an SUV, this could be just the ticket.
You're forgiven if you didn't even realise that there was an estate version of the latest Volkswagen Golf. You don't see too many of them around. Even rarer is the off road-orientated Alltrack version, which made its debut with the previous generation Golf station wagon and continues with this current design.
Volkswagen has discontinued the larger Passat Alltrack, but still feels there's a place in the range for this ruggedised Golf estate model. If you're familiar with sister company Audi's Allroad theme, you'll know the score here: all-wheel drive, a beefier look and lashings of lifestyle promotion featuring people who have great dentists, hot spouses, cool kids and no shortage of spare time.
You'll be wanting to know how a Golf Alltrack differs from an ordinary Golf Estate. Well it only comes with a 2.0-litre TDI 200PS diesel engine for a start, which as usual is paired with a 7-speed DSG automatic gearbox. The brand All-wheel drive '4MOTION' system is standard too, which is one of these on-demand set-ups that brings the rear wheels into play with extra traction only as and when needed. For the Alltrack, ride height has been increased by 15mm to give better ground clearance on light trails. You also get off road-orientated bumpers which give the car better approach and departure angles on steep inclines. And there's a 'Driver profile selection' driving modes system with an extra 'off road' mode. This activates Hill descent control, tweaks the brakes to deal with poorer surfaces and forces the automatic gearbox to stay in lower gears.
The raised ride height gives the car a modicum of off-road ability, but this isn't something to tackle the Darien Gap with. Instead it's a car that's better suited to wet grass, the occasional muddy track and a bit of fun in the snow. Just make sure you fit the right tyres for the latter. As with an ordinary Golf, there's the option of adaptive suspension, which gives you the choice of normal, comfort and sport modes. And there's an XDS electronic differential lock that helps sniff out grip where possible at speed through tarmac turns.
Design and Build
Thankfully Volkswagen has resisted the temptation to get too Rambo with the Golf Alltrack and the overall effect is subtle but purposeful. This variant comes with bespoke 17-inch 'Ronda' alloy wheels and a bespoke look courtesy of Alltrack bumpers, an additional front underbody guard, body-coloured exterior mirror housings and door handles, a body-coloured rear spoiler and chrome trim on the side windows. The Alltrack also gets Volkswagen's 'LED plus' headlamps and LED front fog lights with a '5-honeycomb' design, along with LED rear combination lamps, rear tinted glass and silver roof rails.
Inside, you sit on cloth upholstery with a '7 Summits' design and there are brushed stainless steel pedals. Otherwise, it's just as with any ordinary well specified Golf estate. Up front, there's a radical difference over the previous model with a contemporary cabin dominated by a couple of screens. There's a 10-inch centre-dash infotainment monitor with the usual features - including 'Apple CarPlay'/'Android Auto' smartphone-mirroring which can now be operated wirelessly. Complementing this is a 10.25-inch 'Digital Cockpit' TFT instrument display screen - the largest in the segment. The 611-litre boot's fractionally bigger than before (6-litres larger). With the car loaded up to the roof liner, the volume increases to 1,642-litres (an increase of 22-litres).
Market and Model
There's only one Golf Alltrack variant with only one 2.0-litre TDI 150PS diesel engine. And it's priced at about £37,000. Standard equipment includes all the embellishments we covered in our 'Design' section. Plus you get the brand's 'Discover Media Navigation' system, which you can use for music streaming and the internet, plus a 6-speaker DAB audio set-up and Volkswagen's 'We connect plus' smartphone app functionality. You also get the company's 'Digital cockpit pro' 10.25-inch instrument binnacle display screen.
Helpful touches include power folding mirrors, parking sensors front and rear, a speed limiter, 3-zone climate control, front seat lumbar support and an interior ambient lighting system with 30 colour options. Driver assistance features include adaptive cruise control, a driver alert system, dynamic headlight range control and a package of camera safety features. These include 'Front assist' autonomous emergency braking, Lane assist, Traffic jam assist, Emergency assist, Lane change assist and Dynamic road sign display. Volkswagen includes an electric auxiliary air heater with Alltrack spec. And it's neat 'Car-to-X' intelligent vehicle network system, which can advise you of forthcoming hazards by vehicle swarm connectivity technology.
Cost of Ownership
The Golf Alltrack utilises one of the most economical engines in the Volkswagen Group portfolio. The 2.0 litre TDI diesel returns 50.4mpg on the combined cycle and 147g/km of CO2. The car's coasting function through its DSG auto transmission further aids efficiency, as does a redesigned AdBlue delivery system that cuts nitrogen oxide emissions across the TDI range by 80%. Insurance is group 26E.
And warranties? Well the standard package is three years and 60,000 miles. We can't see why Volkswagen couldn't extend that mileage limit to 100,000 miles, since that what you get on its mechanically very similar Caddy model. Doing that though, wouldn't give Volkswagen dealers so much of an opportunity to sell extended warranty packages. There's one for four years and 75,000 miles or, if you plan to see a bit more of the world in your Golf Estate, there's a five year / 90,000 mile package.
The Golf Alltrack looks a worthwhile inclusion in the Golf Estate line up, giving this deceptively spacious little wagon some much-needed extra identity. Choosing the Alltrack furnishes you with a very specific reason why you'd choose this estate body style over a Golf hatch. It looks great, the off road features are probably all you really need and the mechanicals are all solid stuff as long as you don't take the car's off-road credentials too seriously.
Thanks to the rather premium price tag, this variant still won't be a common sight on British roads, but if you're looking for something that's a more sophisticated alternative to the hackneyed and suburban compact SUV, the Alltrack could be just the ticket.
Volkswagen Golf Alltrack review by Jonathan Crouch