For a society hell-bent on wanting to be unique and special, I find that we’re seriously lacking in originality. I’m referring to our lust for crossover vehicles. I say knowing, and understanding, full well that crossovers respond to the vast majority of all our automotive needs. They’re spacious, generally comfortable, affordable, have that raised driving position and will take you from point “A” to point “B”.
What if I told you that you don’t need to be like all your neighbours? What if I said you could get nearly all of the above plus stand out in a crowd and enjoy the driving experience? I’m not making anything up. All you need to do is head to your local Volkswagen dealer and look and the Golf Sportwagen, and more specifically, the Alltrack.
The 7th generation Volkswagen Golf is one of the more attractive compact cars in the business at the moment, subtle, elegant and instantly recognizable. The Sportwagen blends extra utility to the playful hatchback while the Alltrack brings a little off-road attitude to the Golf family.
The Golf Alltrack is your compact-not-so-compact German Subaru Outback where a little visual ruggedness has been properly infused into the Sportwagen bridging the car to utility vehicle gap. The Alltrack sports distinctive wheel-well flares, unique and gorgeous 18” wheels, and specific front fascia and more. As the top trim in the Sportwagen line-up, it also features silver roof-rails and mirror caps to go along with the rocker guards.
For those desiring a taller ride height, know that the Alltrack is sits 15mm higher off the ground than the regular Sportwagen. This helps with ingress and egress into the high-end Golf’s cabin and improves slightly upon overall visibility.
The Alltrack dashboard is all Golf with a standard 8″ touchscreen with proximity sensor and straight-forward HVAC controls. The instrument panel is complete with dials and a centrally-located screen for numerous pieces of driving information.
This Golf Alltrack is loaded with connectivity features with App-Connect with Android Auto, Apple CarPlay and MirrorLink. Navigation, satellite radio and an excellent Fender audio system are also included.
The 2018 Volkswagen Sportwagen and Alltrack offer up 861 litres of trunk volume. To put it into perspective, this is only 30 litres less than a Subaru Forester and about 250 litres shy of what the Honda CR-V delivers. Either way, it will swallow up a very expensive trip to Costco (aren’t they all…), three golf bags or all the gear needed for a weekend camping trip.
The rear bench is wide enough for three abreast without too much complaining to be expected from the passengers. The front seats are very comfortable, far more than in the Tiguan for example. A good driving position is easy to find, and the cabin remains fairly quiet at highway speeds.
There are numerous storage points throughout the cabin and trunk. Said boot has loads of space below the floor while all four doors have large bins. Up front, there are two covered compartments for smaller items.
The Alltrack’s base price is set at $34,345. The 2018 entry price is lower than in 2017 thanks to the addition of a standard 6-speed manual gearbox. Included with the car are leather, heated front seats, a panoramic sunroof, dual-zone climate control, and the previously noted techno bits.
The excellent 6-speed DSG automatic transmission is a $1,400 option and was included in my tester along with the Driver Assistance and Light Packages. The $38,290 grand total lines it up with nearly all its CUV competition. Its two major shortcomings at this price are the absence of a power hatch and heated steering wheel. Unless the optional packages are a must for you, we’d stick the base $35,745 car with the DSG.
The 2018 Volkswagen Alltrack sole engine is a turbocharged 1.8-litre 4-cylinder. It produces 199 lb.-ft. of torque from 1,600 rpm and 170 horsepower at 4,500 pm. Tipping the scale at 1,520 kg (3,395 lbs.) limits the car’s all-out performance but the DSG’s brilliant gearing and response times make the most of the available torque.
On a few occasions, loaded from a trip to Costco, baby and mom and dad on board, passing on the highway required setting the transmission in Sport (by pulling back on the lever.) In the city, the low-end grunt is always on tap and fun to exploit. There are numerous drive modes to select from, including an off-road mode unique to the Alltrack. It enables hill descent which I doubt 99.99% of owners will never need.
Of the car’s many great attributes, one of my favorites is the ride. The combination of VW’s global MQB platform and a compliant yet sporty suspension endows this car with a more satisfying driving experience than any crossover. Road irregularities are generally well dealt with and tackling long sweeping onramps won’t have you fearing the nearby ditch.
Steering is light and precise and I’m a fan of the brakes; pedal response is immediate and reassuring. I’m guilty of enjoying driving too much but my returned fuel consumption average of 9.2L/100 km is still impressive given my right foot, the snow on the ground and cold weather.
Despite being a compact car, the Alltrack drives large than its outer dimensions suggest and does give off a sense of security all CUV drivers look for. Therefore, purchasing an Alltrack, or a Sportwagen, will not only satisfy all your needs but demonstrate that you’re are indeed unique. As well, let’s show the car business that we still love station wagons!