What Car? says...
The Volkswagen Golf Alltrack is a nod to the fact that not everyone who wants a car with a rugged look and load-lugging capacity is ready to join the SUV club.
Yes, we know family SUVs are ridiculously popular right now, but here's an estate car alternative that, instead of maximum height and volume (and potentially high running costs), gives you off-road prowess in a package the size of the estate version of the VW Golf.
So how does the Golf Alltrack differ from the standard estate? Well, Volkswagen has cranked up the ride height by 15mm to give it better ground clearance for a start.
You also get off-road bumpers, which tick the 'rugged appearance' box and – more importantly if you plan to venture off the asphalt – give the car better approach and departure angles to reduce the risk of getting into any scrapes on steep inclines.
To go with the beefed-up exterior, the Golf Alltrack gets 4Motion four-wheel drive as standard, with power coming from a 197bhp 2.0-litre diesel engine paired with a seven-speed DSG automatic gearbox.
Those 4x4 upgrades push up the price quite a lot, so do you get enough extra for your hard-earned money to justify buying an Alltrack instead of a regular VW Golf Estate?
This VW Golf Alltrack review will tell you, as well as what it's like to drive, how much it will cost to run, whether your passengers will be suitably pampered, how versatile the boot is and much more.
When you've chosen the estate car that's right for you, remember that you can find the best prices on hundreds of makes and models by using our free What Car? New Car Buying service. It's a good place to look for attractive new estate car deals.
Performance & drive
What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is
The good news is that the Volkswagen Golf Alltrack is every bit as refined and easy to live with as the regular Golf Estate. The steering feels much the same, meaning it’s accurate and provides enough feedback on faster, twisting roads, but is also light enough to make low-speed manoeuvres a doddle.
The 197bhp diesel engine pulls well from low revs and is surprisingly good in the mid-range without the need to swap gears, making motorway overtaking a breeze. The seven-speed automatic gearbox swaps between gears smoothly and can be operated using paddles behind the steering wheel, letting you drop down a gear quickly if you need to.
Engine, road and wind noise are all well suppressed. On standard suspension and 17in alloy wheels, the Golf Alltrack’s ride is comfortable and composed, with only bigger road imperfections causing any issues, although never to the point where it jars or unsettles the car. Yes, the Golf Estate is slightly more comfortable, but the margins are small.
Optional adaptive suspension allows you to manually alter the stiffness of the suspension. Sport mode tightens things up and reduces body lean around corners while also making the steering a tad heavier. In most circumstances, Normal and Comfort modes are more appropriate, as you get a suppler ride. We still wouldn’t bother paying the extra for adaptive suspension, though.
The Golf Alltrack also comes with an off-road mode, which activates hill descent control, adapts the brakes to deal with uneven surfaces and, if you choose a model with an automatic gearbox, forces it to stay in lower gears.
The interior layout, fit and finish
No matter what your shape and size, you should be able to find a comfortable driving position in the VW Golf Alltrack. The driver’s seat slides back far enough to accommodate long legs, plus you get seat height and in-and-out steering-wheel adjustment.
The fact that the pedals are neatly lined up with the steering wheel helps to provide a natural seating position, plus the seat has adjustable lumbar support as standard to stop you from slouching on longer journeys.
Unfortunately, the closest you get to physical controls for the climate control is having two touch-sensitive buttons in front of the infotainment screen that allow you to turn the heating up or down. The buttons aren’t backlit, so they're near invisible at night. The only other way to adjust the temperature is to use the infotainment touchscreen, which is fiddly and means your eyes are off the road for longer than you’d want.
Talking of infotainment, everything is displayed on a 10in touchscreen and it includes built-in sat-nav, DAB radio and smartphone mirroring through Apple CarPlay (which can be connected wirelessly), Android Auto and MirrorLink. Aside from being fiddly and distracting while you’re on the move, the menus all make sense and the colour display is clear.
As with other models in the Golf range, the Alltrack’s interior feels well made and is suitably upmarket, using lots of tactile soft-touch plastics. It’s not quite as classy as the Audi A4 Allroad, but that car is a lot more expensive.
Passenger & boot space
How it copes with people and clutter
If you're tall and fed up with sitting in cars that leave you feeling as though you need an extra knee to get your legs in, you'll like the VW Golf Alltrack. It has an abundance of head and leg room up front, with a generously wide interior that means you won’t want for shoulder room, either.
Two six-footers will fit easily in the back with a decent amount of leg and head room. Life isn’t as comfortable for a central passenger because of the raised floor in the middle, which is a pain to clamber over and robs you of foot space.
You can fold down the 60/40-split seatbacks by pulling handles on the sides of the boot and, once dropped, they lie totally flat without you having to first flip up the bases, as is the case in some rivals. That said, the Audi A4 Allroad gets 40/20/40 folding rear seats, so it offers slightly better versatility when it comes to fitting things in the back.
Buying & owning
Everyday costs, plus how reliable and safe it is
The VW Golf Alltrack is worth considering if you need a practical car with the ability to tackle the odd muddy trail but are not keen on a high-riding SUV. The long equipment list, big boot and fine driving dynamics all help make it an appealing choice.
If you're not planning to head off road, it’s worth bearing in mind that the regular VW Golf Estate is cheaper and slightly more comfortable than the Alltrack, so it will probably be better suited to your needs.
Also worth your consideration is the even classier Audi A4 Allroad which, if you’re buying on PCP finance, is not likely to cost you a drastic amount more each month in repayments (although that's for an entry-level version). Always remember to check out the free What Car? New Car Deals pages to compare the best prices.
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