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First drive: Volkswagen Golf Alltrack. Image by Volkswagen.

First drive: Volkswagen Golf Alltrack
The Volkswagen Golf Estate for people who need to occasionally go off-road.

 



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Volkswagen Golf Alltrack

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The concluding part of Volkswagen's new Golf Estate trilogy is the off-roading one; following a familiar formula, this is a higher-riding, plastic-clad, all-wheel drive, rugged Golf called the Alltrack. As you'd expect from Volkswagen, it does everything very, very well but it's a bit pricey, especially when compared to other Volkswagen Group products.

Test Car Specifications

Model tested: Volkswagen Golf Alltrack 2.0 TDI 184 BMT 4Motion DSG
Pricing: Alltrack range starts at 26,790
Engine: 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder diesel
Transmission: all-wheel drive, six-speed DSG dual-clutch automatic
Body style: five-door estate
CO2 emissions: 132g/km (VED Band E, 130 per year)
Combined economy: 56.5mpg
Top speed: 136mph
0-62mph: 7.8 seconds
Power: 184hp from 3,500- to 4,000rpm
Torque: 380Nm from 1,750- to 3,250rpm

What's this?

The final piece completing Volkswagen's trio of range-topping Golf Estates, here also filling the niche in the Golf family for one of those crossover, rough 'n' tumble wagons with lots of plastic slathered over their lower bodies and a semblance of off-road credibility. It's easy to scoff and say owners' non-tarmac experiences will probably only amount to parking on wet grass a couple of times, but these cars are popular with UK buyers, so Volkswagen couldn't ignore this sector much longer.

Wolfsburg's branding for the Bear Grylls of Golfs is 'Alltrack', which has been seen on the larger Passat since 2012, and we all know the recipe for this type of car by now: the suspension is raised by 20mm, 4Motion all-wheel drive is added and, yes, look - down below are skid plates, 'faux' aluminium trim and black plastic edging to the wheel arches and sills. Nevertheless, it results in a surprisingly attractive car, the Alltrack really catching the eye in the bold red of our test example. If you can't identify an Alltrack from its taller stance, or its bespoke-design 17-inch 'Valley' alloys (18-inch 'Canyon' rims optional), or the silver detailing on the door mirrors and roof rails, then look for the discreet badging on the boot, front wings and radiator grille to help you.

The interior is as high quality and capacious as any Mk7 Golf's, although if we have one criticism it's that the Alltrack's cabin doesn't feel any more adventurous or wild than the normal Estate's. If you don't opt for the leather trim of our test car, you do get Alltrack-specific cloth with badging included, which helps to lift things, but apart from the logoed door sills (invisible unless the door's open, of course) and some specific trim finishes (called Dark Magnesium and Tracks), you could be in a regular Golf when behind the wheel. Some other cars in this class, and indeed some from within the Volkswagen Group, differentiate their 'off-road' interiors more substantially than Volkswagen has done here. At least it's well-specified, with climate control, Composition Touch infotainment and a Driver Alert System all fitted as part of a long list of kit.

How does it drive?

Again, this is probably all foreseeable - but a taller Golf Estate with suspension geared for off-road capabilities understandably rides a bit better on road yet loses a smidge of precision in the handling stakes. The Alltrack thus proves to be a pleasant companion, because it is admirably hushed when not being driven like a wider version of a GTD Estate, the lack of much tyre noise from its off-road rubber being particularly commendable. It has a languid attitude to dealing with compressions and bumps, without ever resorting to wallowing on its springs. There is more body roll in corners if you're driving a bit quicker, but the compensation for that is plenty of grip from the Haldex all-wheel drive system, which incorporates both an Electronic Differential Lock and XDS+, an electronic version of a limited-slip diff.

Unlike the R and GTD wagons it was launched alongside, the Alltrack is not a single-model addition to the Golf Estate canon. There are two engines and three power trims on offer, starting with a 110hp 1.6-litre TDI unit. You're probably better off avoiding that and heading straight for the 2.0-litre engine, one delivering 150hp and the other this 184hp/380Nm option. The 110hp and the 150hp engines only get six-speed manual transmissions, while the 184 tested here is equipped with a six-speed DSG dual-clutch automatic. It provides more than adequate performance, given it is marginally quicker to 62mph from rest than the GTD Estate with which is shares its engine. That's probably because the DSG in the Alltrack has shorter lower ratios and the grip of 4Motion, but the GTD feels (naturally) much the livelier car in the midrange. Nevertheless, straight-line grunt isn't what the Alltrack is about.

On a dusty track, the Alltrack showed off its bespoke mode in the driving select system, called 'Offroad'. This slackens off throttle response considerably and also changes the way the DSG gearbox behaves, as well as activating the Hill Descent Control function hidden in the Alltrack's suite of software. Needless to say, the Alltrack didn't miss a beat on what was a modestly challenging but carefully selected off-road route, although the throttle feel is absolutely horrid in this mode - trying to mete out power up steep hills was an act of pure guesswork, as even a few millimetres of pedal travel was the difference between no drive at all and an embarrassing roll backwards down the slope, or a sudden spike of needless revs. Better to just leave the car in a regular mode and measure out the throttle yourself.

Verdict

The Volkswagen Golf Alltrack is everything you would expect of the marque - comfortable, equipped with luxury toys (at a cost), good to look at and powered by some excellent drivetrains. The problem for this 184hp model is that the alternatives to it in the Skoda and SEAT ranges, namely the Octavia Scout and Leon X-Perience, do exactly this sort of shtick for a good chunk of money less. They also both have more specialised interiors. So whether you'll stump up in excess of 30,000 for the Golf Alltrack 184 all rather depends on how much you have to have a Volkswagen badge on the nose of your off-road estate.

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Exterior Design

4 4 4 4 4 Interior Ambience

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Passenger Space

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Luggage Space

4 4 4 4 4 Safety

5 5 5 5 5 Comfort

3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 Driving Dynamics

4 4 4 4 4 Powertrain


Matt Robinson - 26 Apr 2015









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2015 Volkswagen Golf Alltrack. Image by Volkswagen.2015 Volkswagen Golf Alltrack. Image by Volkswagen.2015 Volkswagen Golf Alltrack. Image by Volkswagen.2015 Volkswagen Golf Alltrack. Image by Volkswagen.2015 Volkswagen Golf Alltrack. Image by Volkswagen.

2015 Volkswagen Golf Alltrack. Image by Volkswagen.2015 Volkswagen Golf Alltrack. Image by Volkswagen.2015 Volkswagen Golf Alltrack. Image by Volkswagen.2015 Volkswagen Golf Alltrack. Image by Volkswagen.2015 Volkswagen Golf Alltrack. Image by Volkswagen.



2015 Volkswagen Golf Alltrack. Image by Volkswagen.
 

2015 Volkswagen Golf Alltrack. Image by Volkswagen.
 

2015 Volkswagen Golf Alltrack. Image by Volkswagen.
 

2015 Volkswagen Golf Alltrack. Image by Volkswagen.
 

2015 Volkswagen Golf Alltrack. Image by Volkswagen.
 

2015 Volkswagen Golf Alltrack. Image by Volkswagen.
 

2015 Volkswagen Golf Alltrack. Image by Volkswagen.
 

2015 Volkswagen Golf Alltrack. Image by Volkswagen.
 

2015 Volkswagen Golf Alltrack. Image by Volkswagen.
 






 

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