Volkswagen's improved Golf Alltrack offers a more rugged take on the urbane Golf Estate. Jonathan Crouch reports.
Volkswagen specialises in ruggedised estate cars and its most compact model is his one, the Golf Alltrack. This all-wheel drive special might be all the car you ever need and is offered with a choice of two diesel engines: 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 Alltrack estate version of the latest Volkswagen Golf. You don't see too many of them around. Undeterred by that, Volkswagen continues to offer this variant in the revised Golf line-up, encouraged by the relative success of the Passat Alltrack further up its model range. That Alltrack Passat appeals to people who might need a Qashqai-class family Crossover or SUV - but don't really want one. The idea is that this Golf Alltrack might have the same kind of appeal to people who might be looking at a smaller Juke-sized Crossover. If you're familiar with the Passat Alltrack 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.
There are two Golf Alltrack engine options, both 2.0 TDI diesels. Most will choose the 150PS variant, offered with a manual gearbox and able to sprint to 62mph in 8.9 seconds on the way 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. 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.
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. Recent styling updates have brought a slightly sleeker front end incorporating full-LED headlamps, plus the air intakes at either corner of the front bumper have been restyled too. Jewel-like LED tail lamps are now standard, alonmg with smart animated flowing indicators too. With this Mk7 Golf estate design, Volkswagen has 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.
Prices start at just under £29,000 for the 150PS model, 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 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.
The Golf Alltrack utilises two of the more economical engines in Volkswagen's portfolio, so neither of them are exactly going to leave you penniless at the pumps. In fact, there's precious little between the two available powerplants, with the 150PS model managing 57.6 and the 184PS version netting 56.5mpg. It's much the same story with emissions, the two cars scoring 129 and 137g/km respectively. Both 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 worthwhile option in the Golf Estate line up - for the right kind of buyer. Certainly, this variant furnishes you with a very specific reason why you'd choose one over an ordinary Golf Estate. 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.