Volkswagen Golf Alltrack estate
"The Volkswagen Golf Alltrack offers all the positive aspects of the VW Golf Estate, but with more of a ‘go-anywhere’ attitude"
- Exceptional practicality
- Fantastic ride quality
- High quality interior
- Fuel economy suffers
- Expensive compared to rivals
- Only available with diesel engines
Essentially, the Volkswagen Golf Alltrack is a VW Golf Estate with springier suspension, a slightly raised ride height and four-wheel drive as standard. There are also some styling accoutrements to give it a somewhat tougher appearance, including black plastic cladding around the bottom of the car, skid plates at the front and back and roof rails as standard.
To go with that standard four-wheel-drive system, you get a choice of 2.0-litre diesel engines producing 148 or 184bhp or a recently introduced 1.8-litre TSI petrol with 178bhp. Still, performance is perfectly acceptable and on-road ride comfort is excellent. Yes, the Alltrack may not be as capable off-road as a proper SUV, but it’s enough to get you out of some tough spots, while the extra grip from the four-wheel-drive system gives you more confidence on-road, too.
The Golf’s biggest problems come in the shape of its two ‘in-house’ VW Group rivals. Both the SEAT Leon X-perience and Skoda Octavia Scout offer pretty much the same abilities (although the Octavia is even more practical) as the Golf, but for considerably less money. Granted, the Golf will hold its value better and feels slightly higher quality inside, but most buyers probably won’t consider that enough to justify the bigger price.
The standard Volkswagen Golf finished 18th out of the 75 cars ranked in our 2017 Driver Power owner satisfaction survey of cars currently on sale in the UK.
Overall, the Golf Alltrack is a very comfortable, capable, practical and high-quality family car with the added benefit of that desirable Volkswagen badge on the bonnet.
MPG, running costs & CO2
If you’re after the most efficient Golf Estate possible, you won’t find it here, as the Alltrack’s standard ‘4MOTION’ four-wheel-drive system hampers fuel economy to a certain degree. It’s still not too shabby, though: the least powerful 2.0-litre diesel emits returns 55.4mpg on average and emits 133g/km of CO2, which equals a year-one payment of £200. The 181bhp range-topper (with a DSG automatic gearbox) manages 54.3mpg and also costs £200 to tax in the first year thanks to 137g/km emissions.
The new-for-2018 1.8 TSI petrol version of the Golf Alltrack is only available with the DSG automatic gearbox and returns 42.2mpg on average. CO2 emissions are quoted at 137g/km, which means a first-year tax payment of £500. Remember that all of the quoted first-year tax figures are usually included in the on-the-road price.
Volkswagen residual values are very good, so the Golf Alltrack won’t hurt your wallet as much with depreciation as some of its rivals. Insurance cover shouldn’t break the bank, either: the 148bhp diesel is in group 17, while the 184bhp model is in group 22. Insurance information for the newly introduced petrol model is not yet available.
Engines, drive & performance
Four-wheel-drive ability is the name of the game with the Golf Alltrack, but you have a choice of three power outputs and manual or automatic transmission depending on the model.
There are two 2.0-litre TDI options: one with 148bhp and the same six-speed manual transmission and other with a hefty 181bhp and VW’s DSG semi-automatic gearbox. The former does 0-62mph in 8.9 seconds and the latter in 7.8 seconds.
The DSG can take care of gearchanges itself, or you can take over using the steering column shift paddles. It’s a lovely smooth gearbox, but the 181bhp engine it comes with makes the Alltrack just too expensive, at over £30,000. That’s why the mid-range 148bhp model is our pick of the range – in view of the fact that the typical estate-car owner is likely to want a bit of shove for towing or lugging around a bootful of luggage.
The newly introduced 1.8-litre petrol engine produces 178bhp, manages 0-62mph in 7.5 seconds and has a top speed of 135mph, but economy suffers relative to the diesel options as a result. The petrol model only comes with a seven-speed DSG automatic gearbox and 4MOTION four-wheel drive.
Previously, off-road versions of regular estates tended to wallow around in corners a bit more than the models they were based on, due to their higher suspension. But VW’s engineers have tackled that issue with the Alltrack, which feels no less composed than the regular Golf Estate on a twisty country road. Its 20mm higher suspension does mean it rides a bit smoother, though, offering very comfortable progress even on poor surfaces.
Interior & comfort
The Alltrack is almost identical to a regular Golf hatchback or estate inside, save for some ‘Alltrack’ badging to remind you of what version you’re driving. Its raised suspension means it deals with badly surfaced roads better than those cars, though, so even if the very roughest terrain you expect to encounter on a daily basis is a speed bump or pothole, the Alltrack could be worth considering.
Chrome trim on the dashboard instruments and generally high-quality materials all round add a touch of class to the Alltrack’s cabin, while standard equipment includes a central armrest and gloss-black trim panels.
Practicality & boot space
The normal Golf Estate is already an extremely spacious and practical car, and the Golf Alltrack is no different. Its four-wheel-drive and raised ride height makes it even more versatile than its sister model, capable of tackling muddy car parks or riverbanks without breaking a sweat. Boot capacity is an impressive 605 litres, expanding to 1,620 litres if you drop the rear seats.
But as well as sheer space, the Golf Alltrack incorporates clever and useful features to make carrying all shapes, sizes and types of luggage easier. These include bag hooks, a sliding boot cover to hide your luggage from prying eyes, lashing points, a variable boot floor and a 12v power socket in the boot (a more powerful 230v socket is a £105 option).
Elsewhere, there are seatback storage pockets, a drawer under the front passenger seat, two cup-holders, generously sized door bins and a large glovebox, plus storage compartments in the centre console and roof – leaving you with plenty of places to keep your bits, bobs, odds and ends.
Reliability & safety
The standard Volkswagen Golf was rated highly for reliability in our 2017 Driver Power owner satisfaction survey of cars currently on sale in the UK. Of the owners who responded, 15.6% reported experiencing a problem with their car at least once. Like all VWs, the Golf Alltrack gets a three-year/60,000-mile warranty, which comes up a bit short compared to Toyota and Hyundai’s five-year policies and Kia’s seven-year cover.
In terms of safety, you could hardly be better protected. Standard equipment on the Golf Alltrack includes driver, passenger, side, knee and curtain airbags, anti-lock brakes, adaptive cruise control (to maintain a safe distance from the car in front), driver tiredness detection, tyre pressure monitoring, ISOFIX child-seat mounts and a pre-crash system (which closes the windows and tightens the seatbelts if it detects an imminent impact). Euro NCAP crash-tested the hatchback version of this Golf in 2012, awarding it its maximum five-star rating.
Price, value for money & options
This is one area where the otherwise-impressive Golf Alltrack falters a bit. The main reason for this is the existence of the Skoda Octavia Scout and SEAT Leon X-perience, which are essentially the same car as the Golf Alltrack under the metal, but cost about £1,000 less. The top-spec Golf Alltrack, with the more powerful diesel engine and DSG automatic gearbox, also breaks the £30,000 barrier, which is pretty steep for a car in this class.
Equipment-wise, you do get plenty of kit for your money. Although there’s a choice of three engines, there’s just the one Golf Alltrack trim level, so you get the same standard features no matter what. These include a leather steering wheel, climate control, electric windows all round, cloth upholstery (leather is £1,875 option), Bluetooth connectivity, sat nav and parking sensors at the front and rear.
Useful options include a rear-view camera (£170) and a towbar (£690) – as well as the all-important Winter Pack, which adds heated seats and heated windscreen washer jets for £380.