New Volkswagen Golf Alltrack 2023 review

The Alltrack is a useful addition to the Golf range

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.0 out of 5

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The Golf Alltrack is still aimed at a niche market, but its appeal is more expansive than ever. The powertrain is well suited to the Alltrack and it’s more economical than most SUVs, while possessing genuine off-road ability. The annoying interior technology of the current Golf is a shame, however.

If there’s a manufacturer that has really latched on to the booming popularity of SUVs, it’s Volkswagen. With the T-Cross, Taigo, T-Roc, Tiguan and Touareg, VW’s SUV range is extensive, but the firm still thinks there’s also room for the lifted estate, in the shape of the Golf Alltrack.

We’re very familiar with the eighth-generation VW Golf, the car having launched in 2020 (a mid-life refresh is due soon), but this Alltrack version of the estate is a rather unique offering within VW’s iconic family car’s current range.

The Golf Alltrack is powered by the same 2.0-litre, turbocharged four-cylinder diesel engine found in the GTD diesel hot hatch model. With the GTD now only available as a hatchback, no other Golf pairs this estate body with this powertrain. In theory, a torquey diesel motor, raised ride height and VW’s 4Motion four-wheel drive should all combine to give the Alltrack some useful off-road ability, possibly enough to steal a few sales from the SUV market. 

On paper the Alltrack looks impressive. Although it’s got a bigger, heavier body than the GTD hatch, it has the same 7.1-second 0 to 62mph time and will go on to 142mph. The 50.4mpg might be worse than the 58.9mpg the old Mk7 Golf Alltrack offered but it’s worth remembering the old car was tested on the more lenient NEDC fuel efficiency regime and had a weaker 1.6-litre unit. The taller profile of the Alltrack does mean the aerodynamics aren’t as slippery and emissions rise to 147g/km CO2 compared to the GTD hatch’s 136g/km. All these figures are much better than the similarly-sized and priced Tiguan. 

We had no qualms with the way the old Golf Alltrack drove because it felt like a regular Golf and it’s a similar story with the latest model. You might expect a ride-height increase of 15mm to be noticeably detrimental to cornering ability but we wouldn’t say it’s any worse than a regular Golf.  

Although VW says the 4Motion all-wheel drive system is permanently engaged, it sits in front-wheel drive until it senses a loss of traction, at which point power is distributed to the rear wheels as well. 

As we’ve said, that power comes from a turbocharged diesel engine and with 198bhp available there’s plenty of punch. It’s mated to a seven-speed DSG automatic transmission and while you get the sense the diesel engine is torquey enough it’s a little bit laboured in its power delivery, made worse by the slightly sluggish auto gearbox. There’s always the manual paddles behind the wheel which can override the auto ‘box but they’re plastic and not the nicest to use. You can also play around with the driving modes, with the usual Eco, Comfort and Sport providing minor adjustments to gear change sensitivity and steering weight. 

What is different on the Alltrack is the Off-road driving mode. Understandably, this isn’t a feature on the standard Golf and it adjusts the traction control system along with the throttle to help you traverse the rough stuff. There’s even a hill descent setting which will see the Alltrack go down a steep hill without the need for you to use any of the pedals. 

Behind the wheel we found the extra ground clearance certainly makes a difference if you’re in a field or travelling over a dirt track, you’d do well to scrape the underside of the Alltrack on this kind of terrain, or get it stuck - providing you have appropriate tyres for the job. 17-inch wheels come as standard and while the optional diamond-cut 18-inch wheels on our test car look the part, we’d recommend the smaller wheels if you regularly go off-road. 

On the road, the Golf Alltrack provides a comfortable ride thanks to that extra suspension travel. It doesn’t float around either, settling on long motorway journeys to become a comfortable cruiser. The diesel unit is a little vocal at lower speeds, starting to grumble if you push it but it quietens down as you go up the gears. As you might expect, the Alltrack also has no problem with potholed roads and speedbumps. 

Unfortunately, the Alltrack suffers from the same technical issues that plague the Golf (and plenty of other VW products). We’ve covered the frustrating infotainment system before but it’s still worth noting. The twin 10-inch screens look impressive and while the driver’s display is perfectly ergonomical, the central screen is slow to respond and the menu layout is confusing. We’re definitely not fans of the touchpad slider controls for the climate control just underneath the main screen, which we often find ourselves accidentally turning on when using the main screen. 

The adaptive cruise control can be a little unnerving because it can get confused by junctions at times. More than once it thought a roundabout was approaching on the motorway, which would’ve slowed the car to 30mph on a 70mph stretch of road. The lane keep assist function is also far too intrusive. 

The Alltrack’s cabin is the same as you’ll find in the Golf Estate, but ‘Alltrack’ is embroidered on the seats and the steering wheel has an Alltrack badge on it, both serving as small reminders of the car’s off-road focus. 

Our test car had a few options and while we wouldn’t recommend the £425 keyless entry or the £485 18-inch alloy wheels, the panoramic sunroof is excellent - stretching behind the heads of the rear passengers. The IQ Light LED matrix headlights are equally impressive but expensive at £940. 

The boot of the Golf Alltrack is slightly bigger than on the old Mk7 model - 611 litres with the rear seats up and 1,642 litres with them down. That’s not too far off VW’s other Golf-based car with off-roading pretensions, the Tiguan, which has a 615- and 1,655-litre boot. There’s also not much of a loading lip in the Alltrack, so heavy objects can slide out pretty easily. 

Model:Volkswagen Golf Estate Alltrack 2.0 TDI 4MOTION
Engine:2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder
Transmission:Seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox
0-62mph:7.1 seconds
Top speed:142mph
On saleNow

Now read our review of the updated Volkswagen T-Roc...

Senior news reporter

A keen petrol-head, Alastair Crooks has a degree in journalism and worked as a car salesman for a variety of manufacturers before joining Auto Express in Spring 2019 as a Content Editor. Now, as our senior news reporter, his daily duties involve tracking down the latest news and writing reviews.

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