VW’s viable alternative to an SUV
If you want a big vehicle that can handle just a modicum of the rough stuff, then you’re spoiled for choice with the SUV offerings. But not everyone wants such a big vehicle, even though they might want four-wheel drive, reasonable ground clearance and the capability to haul around a reasonable amount of luggage and personnel. This might be the solution for such people.
The Golf Alltrack is based on the estate version of the perennial hatch and actually offers more than just the appearance of rugged practicality. However, would you be better off buying a medium sized SUV or even just the Golf Estate?
You can have the Alltrack with the 2.0-litre diesel with 148bhp or 181bhp (the former with a six-speed manual, the latter with a seven-speed auto) or a 1.8-litre turbo petrol with a six-speed auto.
There is obviously more power with the 181bhp diesel but actually the lower powered version still has a surprising amount of low-down grunt available so we’d stick with that one, although the auto box in the 181bhp version is attractive. The 178bhp petrol engine is pretty perky when you make it work, but you do need to rev it to get the best out of it, which might not fit with the image of this practical all-road estate.
In the same way, you can specify adaptive suspension which, in Comfort or Normal modes, does work quite well, although in Sport mode you’d get the sharpest handling. We don’t really think it’s worth it, and it doesn’t really fit the bill for what this vehicle is liable to be bought for.
On standard springs and 17-inch wheels, whatever the engine, you’re presented with a composed ride that’s quiet and well suited to most surfaces. It’s a fraction off that of the standard estate, but not by much. However, it’s only the Alltrack that gets the off-road mode including hill descent control, which works with the auto transmission when fitted, and also changes the braking behaviour.
The interior is what you’d expect. It’s like a Golf, so it’s well put together, using very decent materials, and it feels suitably upmarket. The eight-inch infotainment touchscreen is the same as in the standard Golf, and that’s very far from a criticism.
There’s also really decent room front and back although you’d probably only want four on board for a long journey since the middle rear isn’t that great. Unlike in some SUVs you can’t have sliding or reclining rear seats, but you can fold them down easily to liberate a large boot with a fully flat floor. After all, that’s probably one of the primary reasons for buying this car.
However, don’t forget that the Skoda Octavia Scout, an estate also ready for some off-road abuse, costs less but has notably more interior space. Or, if you really don’t need anything other than a car for the road, the standard Golf Estate is cheaper to buy and run.
However, if you do need that enhanced practicality this Golf Alltrack delivers the goods in style. It’s good to drive, has copious and accommodating space front and rear and, with the 148bhp diesel fitted, won’t bust the bank to run either. With a long list of standard equipment for both safety and convenience, there’s a lot to recommend here if you feel the whole SUV scene isn’t for you.