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Car reviews - Volkswagen - Golf - Alltrack

Our Opinion

We like
Surprising all-terrain ability, go-anywhere looks, playful but practical package
Room for improvement
Road noise, no diesel

24 Sep 2015

THE rise of the SUV in Australia is hard to explain. Owners of high-riding, bush-bashing four-wheel drives may enjoy the potential of that high powered hunk of metal sitting on a suburban driveway, but very few ever apply anything other than canned dirt.

Some cite practicality as an unbeatable feature, but the truth is that most comparable-sized wagons can offer all the space and ease of use, only in a nicer to drive and more efficient package.

But if you really do frequently tear up tracks in search of that elusive perfect fishing spot or unspoilt camping ground, then Volkswagen's Golf Alltrack might offer the perfect balance of workday drivability and weekend versatility.

On Monday morning you would be happy that the Alltrack has a 1.8-litre four-cylinder TFSI petrol engine under the bonnet because it provides great acceleration for nipping around the metropolitan labyrinth whilst only using 6.7 litres of fuel per 100 kilometres on the combined cycle.

On the outside, the Alltrack measures a sniff over 4500mm long and 1800mm wide so is just as easy to manoeuvre and keep an eye on as any small wagon, but inside there is room for four to five adults plus 605 litres of luggage space at the back.

With only two or three people on board, the second-row seating folds with a 60/40 split, allowing up to 1620 litres of space with a clever remote release system Its six-speed automatic dual-clutch transmission swaps cogs fast when out on the open road, but is smooth and docile when sitting in stop-start traffic.

With a likeable Golf look that has been enhanced with matte silver highlights and scratch-proof wheel-arch trims, the Alltrack has standout styling, especially dressed up in a brighter colour and would certainly have your colleagues asking questions at the water cooler.

But on Friday night, after you have binned the week’s accumulated coffee cups and loaded up the kids, bags and Esky, you would praise the Alltrack's second personality.

We like the Alltrack's light but communicative steering that connects to a lively chassis with a surprising amount of character when skirting around twisty roads. The car sits 20mm higher than the standard Golf wagon but it is hard to tell when pushing through faster corners with minimal roll and good body control.

Cruising on faster roads with some imperfections revealed the high-riding Golf has a mile-munching and comfortable ride with excellent driving position and ample room in all four corners, but cabin noise was untypically loud for a German make.

A couple of clicks on the volume control had our personal selection of music replacing the road roar. We liked the eight-speaker sound system and large touch screen that senses your hand approaching and enhances buttons with extra information.

While 132kW is not a racecar output, the accompanying 280Nm of torque is useful and is available from just 1350 rpm, which makes the Alltrack feel livelier than it looks on paper.

Of course, it would be held back when loaded up or towing, and we feel something from Volkswagen's range of strong diesels would be a perfect fit for the Alltrack if one were offered.

Spending time at the wheel was comfortable and the higher driving position allowed a good view of surroundings but it was when the bitumen ended and we hit one of Australia's widespread unsealed tracks that we developed an admiration for the Alltrack.

Like the other wagon-based Golfs, the high-riding version has a number of Driving Profile Selection modes including a unique ‘off-road’ setting. In this mode, the Alltrack is at home on some surprising terrain.

Its 4Motion four-wheel-drive system seamlessly shares power between axles, aided by a clever Extended Electronic Differential Lock for sticky situations, but the XDL also sorts troublesome situations out on all surface types.

It was a pleasure to blast along gravelled trails with the confidence that the adaptive ESP program was keeping an eye on everything.

The off-road mode also automatically turns on a hill-decent function, which is normally only commonplace on larger full-fat SUVs. Our trail took us along a variety of terrain including a very steep descent over storm eroded channels and pot-holes.

Far from behaving like any regular small wagon, the Alltrack took adverse terrain in its stride and negotiated the obstacles with grown-up agility. We were genuinely surprised at the competence of such a humble little car.

It might be based on a vehicle that has made a name for itself by offering a great combination of driving pleasure when it is on the road and street cred when its on your driveway, but the Alltrack adds yet another impressive element to the Golf's repertoire.

If you are thinking of joining the rat-race with another jelly-mould SUV, make sure you give the Volkswagen Golf Alltrack a thought. With a combination of typical Golf charm and eyebrow-raising all-terrain ability, the pumped-up Golf manages more than you might imagine.

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