Volkswagen Golf Alltrack 2016 review
Rugged Volkswagen Golf Alltrack estate has arrived, will it cope with the greasy British roads?
The Volkswagen Golf Alltrack could be considered the ultimate all-weather warrior. It’s exceptionally comfortable and refined at high speeds, yet the four-wheel-drive system and raised ride height allow you to drive with confidence through the winter months. In fact, if this car fits your needs, the only reason not to buy one is that a similarly specced Skoda Octavia Scout costs £2,750 less.
It’s no secret that the versatile MQB platform forms the basis for various cars across the VW Group’s extensive model range. However, when Skoda and SEAT announced more rugged, four-wheel-drive versions of the Octavia and Leon estates, in the shape of the Scout and X-Perience, Volkswagen was conspicuous by its absence.
But 12 months after its off-road siblings went on sale, the brand will now offer you the pumped-up Golf Alltrack. Essentially a taller Golf Estate with protective body cladding and all-wheel drive, it comes with a range of diesel engines and a choice of manual and automatic gearboxes.
The suspension has been raised by 20mm to cope with the occasional off-road excursion, but the real benefit is the ride. It is beautifully cushioned, making mincemeat of longer motorway journeys. It’s even noticeable around town, where the Golf almost neutralises deep ruts and potholes.
Buyers get a choice of three diesel engines: a 1.6 and two 2.0-litres. We tried the mid-range 2.0 TDI 150, hooked up to the six-speed manual gearbox. While we’ve not driven the lesser 1.6 in the Alltrack, we prefer the punchier 2.0-litre in the standard Golf Estate due to its superior torque and less stressed high-speed refinement.
Fuel economy does take a bit of a hit, though. The all-wheel-drive system bumps CO2 emissions up from 108g/km to 125g/km, while fuel economy drops to 58.9mpg – from 67.3mpg in the regular front-wheel-drive Golf Estate.
But the raised ride height doesn’t hamper the Alltrack through corners. It handles with the same finesse as the standard Golf, feeling reassuringly composed. The extra grip from the four-wheel-drive system is particularly welcome at this time of year, giving confidence in slippery situations.
While we didn’t get a chance to take the Alltrack off-road in the UK, our experiences on the international launch earlier this year proved the Haldex clutch was more than up to the job – sending power to each individual wheel in no time.
Practicality is unaffected, with the Alltrack offering all the space and versatility of the standard Golf Estate. That means a sizeable 605-litre boot that expands to 1,620 litres with the rear seats folded flat. There’s loads of room in the back, too, and as with all VWs, the driving position is spot-on. There’s even a space-saver spare wheel under the floor.