Volkswagen's Golf Alltrack offers a more rugged take on the urbane Golf Estate. Jonathan Crouch reports.
Ten Second Review
Volkswagen extends into another niche, namely that of the ruggedised compact estate with its Golf Alltrack. This all-wheel drive special might be all the car you ever need and is offered with a choice of three diesel engines: a 110PS 1.6-litre TDI, a 150PS 2.0-litre TDI and the 184PS 2.0-litre TDI 184 PS, the latter mated to a DSG gearbox.
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. Undeterred by that, Volkswagen has decided that the best way to spark a bit of interest in a load lugging version of its brilliant family hatch is to make it a bit more interesting. To that end, it has launched a triple-pronged assault, As well as estate versions of the sporty Golf R and GTD versions, it's also delivered something a bit different. Cue the rugged Alltrack. We've seen that nameplate attached to a Passat estate before and if you're familiar with sister company Audi's Allroad theme, you'll know the score. 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.
The entry level engine is similar to that in the eco BlueMotion Golf Estate and puts out the same 110PS. Step up to the 150PS powerplant and performance is notably crisper, dropping the sprint to 62mph from 12.1 to 8.9 seconds and lifting top speed from 116 to 129mph. The 184PS version with the DSG twin-clutch transmission is genuinely brisk, reaching 62mph in just 7.8 seconds and keeping on barrelling to 136mph. The raised ride height gives it 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. There's an XDS electronic differential lock that helps sniff out grip where possible and sports suspension is fitted as standard. The six-speed manual gearboxes fitted to Golf Mk7s are slick, wristy units that are a joy to use, but the DSG has a lot going for it as well. It even works well in 'fire and forget' auto mode.
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. The plastic wheel arch extensions beef up the look a bit, as do the metallic sill finishers, which complement the black plastic spats along the bottom of the door. The low-profile satin finish roof rails also look smart and there are two different alloy wheel designs to choose from. The Golf Estate shape is a nicely integrated bit of design, looking anything but the usual hatch-based afterthought. When the Mk7 estate was introduced, Volkswagen really upped the ante on load space, boosting it from the 505-litres of the Mk 6 to 605-litres when loaded up to the parcel shelf. Flip the rear seats down and you get a full 1,620-litres, which is a big improvement on the 1,495-litres you got before. At 4,562mm, the Golf Estate is 307mm longer than the hatchback, so do bear this in mind if you're already tight for parking space with a hatchback model.
Market and Model
Prices start at just under £27,000 for the 110PS model, rising to just over £28,000 for the 150PS car, with the range-topping 184PS version with the DSG transmission topping out at just under £31,000. Whichever version you choose, you get seven airbags, including a driver's knee bag, five three-point seat belts, ABS with ESP, XDS electronic differential lock and ISOFIX preparation for two rear child seats. The entry-level Composition Media system includes a 5.8-inch colour touchscreen, DAB digital radio, a CD player, an MDI interface (for connecting iPod or MP3 player), Bluetooth telephone preparation and audio streaming along with eight speakers. Also standard is semi-automatic air conditioning, among a host of other features. The Alltrack also comes as standard with cloth upholstery, with leather seating being an £1,800 option. Plus you get Bluetooth, sat nav, adaptive cruise control, parking sensors, battery regeneration, automatic lights and wipers, tyre pressure monitoring, and a driver profile selector with off road mode.
Cost of Ownership
The Golf Alltrack utilises some of the more economical engines in Volkswagen's portfolio, so none of them are exactly going to leave you penniless at the pumps. In fact, there's precious little between all three of the available powerplants, with the 110PS model returning a combined fuel economy figure of 58.9mpg, the 150PS model managing 57.6 and the 184PS version netting 56.5mpg. It's much the same story with emissions, the three cars scoring 124, 127 and 132g/km respectively. All are fitted with a Stop/Start system which defaults to 'on' as standard, along with that battery regeneration technology that reduces inefficient alternator drag. The warranty covers you for three years or 60,000 miles, whichever arrives first. Should you wish, you can extend to four years for £230 or five years for £565.
The Golf Alltrack looks a decent addition to the Golf Estate line up. Whereas before, this little wagon had been lacking something in the way of identity, the Alltrack now furnishes you with a very specific reason why you'd choose one over a Golf hatch. It looks great, the pricing isn't ridiculous and the mechanicals are all solid stuff as long as you don't take the car's off-road credentials too seriously. It 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.