The new Volkswagen Golf Alltrack is aimed at offering an alternative for those who need a semblance of off-road ability, but don't need the space and size of either an SUV or VW's own Passat Alltrack.
The estate-only Golf Alltrack is available with three engines: the 109bhp 1.6 TDI and the 148bhp 2.0 TDI tested here are fitted with a six-speed manual gearbox, or there is an 182bhp 2.0 TDI complete with a six-speed dual-clutch automatic.
The Alltrack’s ride height has been raised by 15mm over the standard Golf's to give better ground clearance, and comes equipped with off-road-designed front and rear bumpers. The four-wheel drive is provided via an on-demand system that sends power to the rear wheels only when the front ones begin to slip.
What’s the 2016 Volkswagen Golf Alltrack 2.0 TDI 150 like to drive?
It's every bit as refined and easy to live with as a conventional Golf Estate. The steering feels much the same, which means it’s accurate and provides enough feedback. It's also light and makes low-speed manoeuvres easy.
The smooth 148bhp 2.0-litre TDI engine delivers an impressive amount of mid-range pull, giving you the confidence to overtake. This, matched to a light clutch and gearshift, makes the Alltrack a joy to live with, and easy to drive when the traffic becomes heavy. Furthermore, engine, road and wind noise are all extremely well suppressed.
On the standard suspension and 17in alloys wheels the Alltrack’s ride is comfortable and composed, with only bigger road imperfections causing shuddering, albeit never to the point where it jars or unsettles the Golf.
Our test car was fitted with Dynamic Chassis Control, an £830 addition, which gives the driver the option to alter the suspension settings between Sport, Comfort and Normal. Sport mode firms up the suspension and reduces body lean around corners while also making the steering a tad heavier. However, in most circumstances Normal or Comfort modes are more appropriate when you simply want a compliant yet engaging drive.
The Alltrack also comes with an off-road mode, which activates the hill descent control, adapts the brakes to deal with uneven surfaces and, if you choose one with an automatic gearbox, forces it to maintain lower gears.
What’s the 2016 Volkswagen Golf Alltrack 2.0 TDI 150 like inside?
It feels just like any other Golf – well put together and comfortable.
The dashboard looks classy and inviting to touch. Add in a good mix of materials, colours and a 5.8in touchscreen with satellite-navigation, and the picture is perfectly completed.
The lengthy standard equipment list adds to the premium feel; the Alltrack comes with front and rear parking sensors, dual-zone climate control, Bluetooth, a DAB radio, cruise control, automatic lights and wipers, and electric windows all round.
The boot is large at 605 litres, and can be extended to 1620 litres with the seats down. More importantly it's a square shape and the Alltrack comes with a variable-height boot floor. Beneath that lies a spacesaver spare wheel.
The Skoda Octavia Scout is the only real competition that the Alltrack faces, and it comes with a slightly larger boot at 610 litres seats-up, and 1740 litres with them down.
Should I buy one?
The Golf Alltrack is certainly worth considering if you need a small estate car with an enhanced ability to tackle the odd muddy trail, but, are not so keen on an SUV. The long equipment list, the quality feel and solidity of the popular model should be enough to tempt many.
However, bear in mind that the Skoda Octavia Scout has a larger boot and comes in more than £2000 less than the Golf Alltrack. It, too, can handle some off-roading, but is less well equipped and not as refined.
True, it doesn't quite have the Golf's interior quality, drive or refinement, but if space is paramount, then the Skoda makes more sense and is the one to go for.
What Car? says…
Volkswagen Golf Alltrack 2.0 TDI 150
Engine size 2.0-litre diesel
Price from £28,155
Torque 251lb ft
0-62mph 8.9 seconds
Top speed 129mph
Fuel economy 58.9mpg