The Volkswagen Golf Alltrack is a jacked up Golf for those who need room for a bike and like to get their feet dirty, but is it any good?
The Volkswagen Golf Alltrack is based on the Golf wagon and is really just a high-ish riding part-time all-wheel drive (4Motion) version of that car. But the Golf Alltrack is an odd one. See, despite the plastic cladding it doesn’t look like a high-riding SUV and with only 175mm of ground clearance it isn’t very high riding. And, when you sit inside it you don’t get a particularly commanding view of the road feel. So, it’s less of a rough-roader like the Subaru XV and more of a road car that provides the added benefit of a quick-acting part-time all-wheel drive drivetrain.
The Golf Alltrack is available in one specification only and lists from $37,990+ORC. There are two extra cost option packages, the Driver Assistance Package $1300 and the Sports Luxury Package $2500, while metallic/pearl effect paint adds $500. The Golf Alltrack is pretty well equipped for the money, getting a leather interior, automatic headlights, rain-sensing wipers, reversing camera and parking distance sensors as well as seven airbags and a five star ANCAP rating.
The Golf Alltrack stands out from the rest of its family thanks to its wheel arch flares “for protection” and fake skid plates front and rear. It also gets a more aggressive looking front- and rear-end. On the inside, the Golf Alltrack is more or less the same as a Golf wagon, although it does get a few unique touches, including a leather wrapped steering wheel with infotainment and communication controls, ambient lighting in the door trim and LED reading lights, it also offers Apple Car Play and Android Auto connectivity which can then be controlled via the 6.5-inch touch screen unit.
Being based on the Golf wagon means the Alltrack gets 605 litres of bootspace when the rear seats are in place and 1620 litres with the seats folded down. There are some practical touches, like a cargo net, there are also a couple of plastic carry hooks and some tie-down points as well as a 12V outlet.
The front seats are swathed in leather and while they look cool, although they lack enough lateral and thigh support to be truly comfortable. Over in the back seats there’s plenty of room for two kids or two adults, the middle seat is nothing more than a perch. There are ISOFIX mounts back here.
In typical VW fashion, the interior feels like it comes from a car in a price bracket above, with all of the controls and switchgear crafted from high-quality plastics that look to be hard wearing and relatively resistant to grubby finger marks.
The Golf Alltrack runs a 1.8-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine with 132kW at 4500rpm and 280Nm of torque from 1350rpm to 4500rpm. The engine is mated to a six-speed DSG. Fuel consumption is a claimed 6.7L/100km. Despite no diesel option, the petrol engine is a very liveable and given its near flat torque curve from just above idle to 4500rpm means overtaking or tackling long, steep hills is a cinch.
The six-speed DSG is good although one thing I did notice about the Golf Alltrack is the in-gear roll back when parked on a hill, which can be especially disconcerting when you’ve just reversed into a parking spot and then selected D for drive to go forwards a touch yet the vehicle rolls back a foot or so before catching and driving forwards.
The Golf Alltrack was less than comfortable across the dirt roads we drove on. Banging and crashing noisily into lumps and bumps in the road and chattering across some corrugations. While the Alltrack has the word 4Motion emblazoned on the side, it’s worth mentioning that the thing behaves as a front-wheel drive car in general situations until wheel slip is detected. Then the latest-generation Haldex 5 coupling engages the rear axle with the ability to send up to 100% of torque to the rear end.
There’s an Off-Road mode, but it doesn’t lock the car into all-wheel drive, rather it softens the throttle pedal to dial out bumps from your foot as you buck about on a rutted track, and it loosens the ABS pulses allowing the wheels to build a wedge of dirt in front of the tyres, it also activates downhill descent control which will control downhill speeds at up to 30km/h. There’s a Sport mode that sharpens the throttle response and sees the engine rev a little higher than in Normal mode, and the Eco mode aims for fuel saving by plumping for a higher gear more quickly.
Away from the dirt and back on the bitumen, the Golf Alltrack feels more at home. Despite its 20mm extra ride height it handles very much like any other Golf, meaning its firm but always feels very well planted on the road. There’s almost no body roll and the steering is both well weighted and direct in its action.
But, as the road surface deteriorates so to does the Alltrack’s ride, although that could have more to do with the 18-inch alloys on our test car than the suspension tune as such. The brake pedal feels pretty lifeless under foot but has a long action and so can be modulated easily.
In terms of safety, the Golf Alltrack piggy backs on the rest of the Golf 7 range with a five star ANCAP rating, part-time all-wheel drive (4Motion), seven airbags, ISOFIX mounts in the back seat, traction and stability controls with an Off Road mode that tweaks the ABS response.