As a station wagon imitating an SUV, the 2017 Volkswagen Golf Alltrack bridges the gap between car-like driving and go-further (but maybe not quite go-anywhere) capabilities.
The idea of dressing-up a road-going wagon as an SUV has been tried by Subaru, Audi, Volvo and more recently Mercedes-Benz while overseas Volkswagen even applies the offroad treatment to the Polo, and the next Commodore wagon is set to give it a shot too.
According to Volkswagen, the treatment has proved so popular with buyers that the company has expanded the range, keeping the 132TSI Alltrack and adding a Premium variant of both it, and a new 135TDI Alltrack Premium diesel variant.
Vehicle Style: Medium SUV
Price: $34,490-$40,990 plus on-road costs
Engine/trans: 132kW/280Nm 1.8-litre 4cyl turbo petrol, 135kW/380Nm 2.0-litre 4cyl turbo diesel | 6sp automatic, 7sp automatic
Fuel Economy Claimed: 5.4-6.8 l/100km
As with the regular Golf hatch and wagon models, the Golf Alltrack arrives in Australia with the range of Mark 7.5 updates that see new technology, infotainment, and safety features added to both the standard equipment and options lists.
On the surface, changes may not be immediately obvious, but look a little closer and you’ll find new head and tail lights on the outside, while inside there’s a new 8.0-inch touschscreen as standard.
As before, the Alltrack 132TSI and new 132TSI Premium are powered by a turbocharged 1.8-litre petrol engine producing 132kW of power and 280Nm of torque while the new 135TDI Premium adds a 2.0-litre turbo diesel with 135kW and 380Nm, both with dual-clutch automatics - a six-speed for the petrol and seven-speed for the diesel.
Alltrack pricing kicks off from $34,490 plus on-road costs for the 132TSI, $38,490 for the 132TSI Premium, and $40,990 for the 135TDI Premium but as a special introductory offer Volkswagen is offering driveaway deals with the 132TSI at $35,990, the 132TSI Premium at $39,990 and the 135TDI Premium at $42,490.
- Alltrack 132TSI: Cloth seat trim, dual-zone climate control, keyless entry and start, rear ventilation outlets, cruise control with speed limiter, auto headlights and wipers, leather-trimmed multi-function steering wheel, 17-inch alloy wheels
- Alltrack 132TSI Premium and 135TDI Premium: Leather trim, heated front sports seats, colour multi-function display in instrument cluster, LED headlights, carpet floor mats
- Infotainment: 8.0-inch touchscreen, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone mirroring, AM/FM radio, CD player, SD card and USB inputs, Bluetooth connectivity, eight-speaker audio. Premium models add satellite navigation and the option of a 9.2-inch touchscreen with gesture control, 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, Dynaudio speakers
- Cargo Volume: 605 litres to rear seats, 1620 litres to front seats
There’s little to identify the Golf Alltrack apart from a regular Golf wagon on the inside, and that’s no bad thing given the well built and conservative but functional interior appointments of the regular Golf.
Some trim pieces are a little different and some of the switchgear has been changed to accommodate the off-road capable functions, but overall the restrained look and top-notch quality of materials remains.
The entry level Alltrack is no lightweight in the equipment stakes with standard 17-inch alloy wheels, cruise control with speed limiter, 8.0-inch infotainment that works with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, heated rear view mirrors, rain sensing wipers, auto headlights, and dual-zone climate control.
Step up to an Alltrack Premium and leather trim, heated front sports seats, LED headlights, satellite navigation, and more join the list.
Passenger space feels roomy enough for young families, without being oversized. Front seats are comfortable and supportive, while in the rear pre-teen kids will fit without a problem, though once the inevitable growth-spurt hits there might be some grumbles about leg and kneeroom.
At 605 litres the boot of the Golf Alltrack out-sizes many purebred SUVs, and although the Alltrack sits on raised suspension, the boot floor isn't so high as to make loading and unloading difficult.
Turn to Volkswagen’s options packages on the Premium variants and the Infotainment Package upsizes the touch screen to 9.2-inches with gesture controls and a 10GB hard drive, replaces the instruments with a 12.3-inch TFT display and adds premium audio.
Go for the Sport Luxury Package and you’ll get 18-inch wheels, privacy tint, a powered driver’s seat with memory, a panoramic roof, and steering wheel gearshift paddles.
ON THE ROAD
- 132TSI: 1.8-litre four-cylinder turbo petrol, 132kW @4500-6200rpm, 280Nm @1350-4500rpm
- 135TDI: 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo diesel, [email protected] 3500-4000rpm, 380Nm @ 1750-3000rpm
- Transmission: Six-speed dual-clutch automatic (132TSI), Seven-speed dual-cluth automatic (135TDI), all wheel drive
- Suspension: Raised MacPherson strut front, multi-link independent rear
- Brakes: Ventilated front discs, solid rear discs
- Steering: Electro-mechanical power steering, 10.9m turning circle
- Towing Capacity: 1500kg braked (132TSI) 2000kg braked (135TDI), 750kg unbraked, 80kg towball download
The Volkswagen Golf Alltrack is suffering from an identity crisis - there’s no other way to describe it. It simply handles too well on winding roads to be considered an SUV and with the added grip of all-wheel drive it can tear along twisty roads with confidence unmatched by a regular Golf wagon.
It may not be a full hot-hatch experience. Zero-100 km/h times for both the petrol and diesel model are a less than scorching 7.8 seconds, but the way it sits on the road is better than you’ll find in your average high-riding SUV.
At the Golf Alltrack’s launch we were only given time behind the wheel of the 132TSI petrol model, with the Sport Luxury Package, which adds 18-inch wheels.
The engine itself is free revving, low on noise, and gets the Alltrack up to speed swiftly enough that you won’t find yourself willing it to pick up pace. Paired with a six-speed dual-clutch auto, which is quick shifting and smooth in the process, it felt right at home on the rural roads of the launch route.
Although Alltrack models do sit higher on their suspension than a regular Golf, there’s never a feeling of teetering on raised suspension, and on some winding roads, both sealed and unsealed, the Alltrack stayed level through corners and served up plenty of grip.
The ride is perhaps a little on the firm side, which is part of the reason for the hot hatch feel, and also why the Golf stays so stable instead of bobbing about on floaty springs and dampers.
On slick surfaces that varied from loose gravel to damp mud washes the 4Motion all-wheel drive system kept up with conditions, giving the Alltrack a secure feel. Limited ground clearance won’t see the Alltrack venture as far off the beaten path as a ‘real’ SUV but the added confidence is there for moderate adventure seekers.
Refinement is typically Volkswagen-civilised. There’s low levels of wind noise, though on some surfaces low-level road rumble can make its way into the cabin, and keen drivers will pick the under-bonnet signature of the turbo as it spools up.
Without driving the 135TDI it’s hard to say what the on-road experience is like, but compared to the more expensive Passat Allroad the Golf version loses only 5kW and 20Nm in a smaller package, meaning it should feel every bit as capable as the petrol version.
ANCAP Rating: The 2017 Volkswagen Golf range has yet to be tested by ANCAP.
Safety Features: Seven airbags (dual front, front seat side, full-length curtain, driver’s knee), ABS brakes with electronic brakeforce distribution, brake assist, and multi-collision brake (which prevents the car rolling into another vehicle after an accident), electronic stability and traction control, front force-limiting seatbelt pretensioners, rear view camera, driver fatigue detection, and Front Assist with city emergency brake (up to 30 km/h).
An optional Driver Assistance Package on all Alltrack variants adds blind spot monitoring and rear cross traffic alert, adaptive cruise control, lane assist with lane departure warning, and proactive occupant protection as part of the Driver Assistance Package.
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
Volkswagen has one of the strongest medium SUV tems on the market with the one-two punch of the Tiguan and Golf Alltrack which now both focus on technology and upmarket appeal with mass-market prices.
If the idea of a mum-and-dad SUV is simply too much to bear, but your active lifestyle dictates at least some adventurous capability (or you just like the more substantial look of the Alltrack’s styling) then this Golf wagon in an SUV suit strikes the right balance.
It’s compact enough to slot into urban carparks, comfortable and spacious enough to carry four occupants and their gear at a moment’s notice, yet fun enough to drive on the open road so as not to be dull.
Couple that with Volkswagen’s new infotainment tech and comprehensive but easy to understand driver interface and the new Golf Alltrack makes a compelling case for itself, all without busting the budget.
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