VW Golf Estate Alltrack TDI 4Motion
The high-spec estate version of Volkswagen's ever-popular model is back after a facelift and Ed Coles is impressed with its off-road ability
VW Golf Estate Alltrack TDI
Overall Rating: 80%
Pros: Good spec, fun to drive and impressive off-road
Price as reviewed: £43,803
Cons: Lacking adjustable suspension
Background to the VW Golf Estate Alltrack TDI 4Motion
The Volkswagen Golf needs little introduction. It has been at the forefront of hatchback sales since, well, forever, partly down to the legendary GTI. In the early 1990s, VW decided to stick a boot on it and the Golf estate was born. (Read more reviews on Golfs here.)
Some 30 years on and the latest model has been given a few extra toys that could tick some Shooting Times boxes. We’re having a play in the new VW Golf Estate Alltrack TDI 4Motion, so let’s see if it can make it up all of the tracks.
Sporty and rugged
On first impressions, the VW Golf Estate Alltrack looks rather smart and sleek, with a hint of sporty ruggedness. Due to its size, I thought they’d sent the wrong car. However, on closer inspection, the front end is unmistakably a Golf. The new estate version is bigger than its predecessor, with a 66mm longer wheelbase to offer a bit more legroom.
The Alltrack has been given some of its own styling, with more rugged-looking bumpers, as well as a rear diffuser and spoiler. A black grille and fancy LED lights add to the look. I rather like the contrasting trims against the glossy dolphin-grey bodywork, while the larger optional 18in Mount Vernon alloys, with all-weather tyres, finish it off nicely.
Under the bonnet is a four-cylinder, two-litre turbo diesel engine that produces an impressive 200bhp and 400Nm of torque. Hitting 0-62mph in 7.1 seconds and with a top speed of 142mph, the Alltrack is definitely spirited and capable of towing up to two tonnes. A seven-speed direct shift gearbox and VW’s 4Motion 4×4 set-up with added XDS electronic differential lock mean things are looking promising. There are five driving modes, including comfort, sport and off-road, which tweak the engine, gearbox and optional dynamic chassis control settings.
Deploying the trusty feed bag, we can see the Alltrack has a reasonable amount of ground clearance — 175mm to be precise, which should be enough to tackle some ruts and bumps. There is a strengthened engine skid plate, which will help if 175mm isn’t enough.
There is an all-singing, all-dancing automatic boot release, which gives access to a space that could take around seven bags of wheat. With the seats folded, you could comfortably double that. Overall, there’s 1,642 litres of load space. It’s a reasonable size, but the rifle only fits in at an angle. There’s also enough room for a couple of labradors to squeeze in and certainly adequate space for kit, luggage or shopping.
Inside, everything is as you would expect from VW — modern with a slightly understated style. The Titan black interior is smart and comfortable. The test car has a few extra features, such as the panoramic roof, rear camera, winter pack and keyless entry.
In addition, all the usual bells and whistles are present, including Apple and Android connectivity, satnav and DAB, while it is also jammed with driver aids, such as lane departure and travel assist. All the toys are fairly user-friendly and controlled via a 10in touchscreen.
As you would expect with a Golf, the Golf Estate Alltrack TDI 4Motion holds the road and handles impeccably and, with the added four-wheel drive, the traction and response are impressive. In sport mode, it doesn’t take long to get through the gears and up to penalty-point territory.
The slightly higher ground clearance is relatively unnoticeable on the road and the Alltrack doesn’t feel like it should come with a sail when on the twisty back roads. Despite it being longer, it still feels nimble and is quite good fun to drive. Town driving is relaxed and a little sedate, but still enjoyable, and the driving modes mean it is very adaptable.
It’s time to see what it can do away from the tarmac. Off-road mode adjusts the engine and gearbox settings, as well as the suspension dampening. Pulling on to a rough track, you don’t really notice any difference in the ride. It all feels comfortable inside. On putting your foot down, the traction is impressive, as is the cloud of dust being kicked up by all four wheels.
All is good through the wood and the change from gravel to rutted grass track is unnoticeable, with traction and handling as precise as on the road. It handles lumps and bumps well. Although in places it use the suspension’s full travel, there’s no uncomfortable banging or jarring.
I straddled some of the more challenging ruts and the Alltrack dealt with them admirably. A little more clearance would be good, but it’s a good effort for an estate car. It would have been nice to have had some rain to fully test the electronic witchcraft, but the drought goes on.
The optional parking cameras have an off-road setting, which makes negotiating the tight bits of the wood slightly less stressful — it was quite fun to park up in the wood and take in a 360-degree view.
The Golf Estate Alltrack TDI 4Motion is a capable and comfortable all-rounder and the level of features and kit is of a high standard. It performs well on and off-road. I’m not suggesting you should chop in the pickup for one, but it can perform as well as any SUV in off-piste situations. A little more ground clearance would be nice, or some height-adjustable suspension, but a day in the field with the Alltrack is possible and good fun.
It seems slightly confusing that VW has similar vehicles in its SUV range, but if you’re after an estate for occasional off-road use, the Alltrack is pretty good. The standard model starts off at £38,275 on the road, but with all the optional extras fitted, this one comes out at £43,825, which is not too bad when you consider the level of tech and kit.
Need to know
- Manufacturer: Volkswagen
- Model: Golf Alltrack TDI 4Motion
- Top speed: 142 mph
- Power: 200bhp, 400Nm of torque
- 0-62 mph: 7.1 seconds
- Emissions: 146g/km
- Fuel economy : Low 35.8 mpg, Medium 50.4 mpg, High 58.8 mpg, Extra high 52.3 mpg, Combined 50.4mpg
- Towing weight, braked 2,000kg
- Ground clearance: 175mm
A capable and comfortable all-rounder