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2016 Volkswagen Golf Alltrack review

Paul Murrell’s launch-based 2016 Volkswagen Golf Alltrack review with pricing, specs, ride and handling, safety, verdict and rating. 

IN A NUTSHELL: Volkswagen’s Golf Alltrack is a real alternative to an SUV with plenty of space and on-demand all-wheel drive.

2016 Volkswagen Golf Alltrack

PRICE from $37,990 (plus ORC); WARRANTY three-year, unlimited kilometres; SAFETY five-star ANCAP; ENGINE 1.8-litre inline four-cylinder turbocharged  petrol Power/Torque 132kW/280Nm; TRANSMISSION six-speed DSG; BODY 4.58m (L); 1.80m (W); 1.50m (H); WEIGHT 1479kg (tare mass); THIRST 6.7L/100km (95 RON, combined).

Editor's Rating

First thoughts of the 2016 VW Golf Alltrack
PRACTICAL MOTORING SAYS: It’s yet another Golf variant: slightly taller, slightly heavier but otherwise, everything Golf buyers have come to expect. How well it stacks up against, say, a Subaru XV when the going gets rough remains to be seen, but we'd suggest it might lose, and its poor ground clearance means its more of a well-graded dirt road fighter.

THE SUCCESS OF THE Volkswagen Golf has been almost unprecedented and with the release of two new models, the Golf Alltrack and Golf R Wagon, it should appeal to an even wider range of buyers.

The Golf Alltrack follows the lead of the Passat Alltrack in offering many of the advantages of an SUV in a practical wagon, and following firmly int he footsteps of its Skoda Octavia Scout twin. If only people would look beyond SUVs, they’d see that a vehicle like the Golf Alltrack (or Subaru Outback, Skoda Octavia Scout or Volvo XC60) are often a more considered choice.

Most people rarely venture far off road. But all-wheel drive has demonstrable advantages on unsealed roads, of which Australia has more than its fair share. With VW’s 4MOTION all-wheel drive system with gen 5 Haldex coupling is ideally suited to the varied conditions Australian drivers face.

2016 Volkswagen Golf Alltrack car review

Not surprisingly, the Golf Alltrack is similar in many ways to the front-wheel drive Golf, although heavier. It’s powered by the 1.8-litre turbocharged TSI petrol engine with a useful 132kW at 4500rpm and 280Nm from just 1350rpm. This is the most powerful engine fitted to a Golf, with the exception of the performance models. It also gets VW’s BlueMotion technology with start/stop, coasting function and brake energy recuperation, resulting in fuel consumption of 6.7L/100km – although with the kerfuffle embroiling VW with #dieselgate the BlueMotion brand name might not be worth the paper it’s printed on…

The Alltrack gets driver-selectable modes of eco, sport and off-road mode (the latter unique to the Alltrack). The engine is available exclusively with six-speed DSG transmission.

2016 Volkswagen Golf Alltrack car review

In design terms, the Golf Alltrack is sufficiently distinctive to stand out in the Golf range. It sits up to 20mm higher than standard models (or around 160mm – a Subaru XV sits at 220mm) – hardly enough to take you far into the mulga, but a worthwhile change all the same. It gets the almost-obligatory wheel arch mouldings and flared side sills offer additional body protection. The Alltrack also gets unique bumpers with bi-xenon headlights, 17-inch alloy wheels and – hold your breath – “unique rear badging”.

Inside, there’s leather appointed upholstery, multi-function steering wheel and gear knob, ambient lighting in the door trim and LED reading lights. Of greater value for a company that once dragged its feet with connectivity, the Golf Alltrack gets the latest VW infotainment technology with the added convenience of App-Connect featuring Apple CarPlay and Android Auto systems for easy access to music, messages and navigation via smartphone. Information is displayed on a 6.5-inch touch screen with Volkswagen’s clever proximity sensor.

2016 Volkswagen Golf Alltrack car review

Luggage space puts normal Golfs (and the obvious competitors) to shame with a boot capacity of 606 litres even with five adults aboard and useful dimensions of 1.055m from the tailgate to the back seat, 1.83m to the back of the front seats. The Alltrack gets a luggage partition net as standard, shopping bag and load restraint hooks, luggage compartment illumination and a 12 volt socket in the rear.

2016 Volkswagen Golf Alltrack car review

On the road, the Alltrack behaves as you’d expect: like a taller, slightly heavier Golf. It spends most of its time in front-wheel drive mode, switching to all-wheel drive only when necessary. The dual injection system (using both high and low pressure) is quick to respond (the high pressure system is deactivated when in cruise mode) while the electric wastegate ensures minimal turbo lag and has the added advantage of reducing emissions during warm-up, or so VW has led us to believe.

The additional 74kg has only a small effect on the Alltrack’s performance, the zero to 100 sprint taking 7.8 seconds) on its way to a 217km/h top speed. Most people won’t notice the difference, nor will they be uncomfortably aware of the taller stance. The Alltrack, not to put too fine a point on it, is an excellent all-rounder. The XDS system is designed for performance on hot Golfs but for the Allroad it is used to power a hydraulic unit to variably allocate torque delivery to each wheel and axle, and apply brakes to any wheel that loses traction. There’s also a locking centre differential function if the going becomes a little too tough.

2016 Volkswagen Golf Alltrack car review

Off-road mode, not found on any other VW Group product, includes automatic downhill descent control. Sensors note the angle and maintain a set speed, although you can override it using the throttle. It also adjusts the ABS brakes to better suit loose surfaces. Driving down the notorious rally stage outside Canberra known, for good reason, as The Mineshaft is a dramatic demonstration of just how effective and reassuring it is. A different damper tune takes care of the Alltrack’s extra weight and permits greater suspension travel. This results in a slightly less assured feel through corners, but nowhere near as doughy as most SUVs.

The Golf Alltrack has a commendably high level of safety with multi-collision braking, driver fatigue sensor, low tyre pressure indicator, parking distance sensors including rear camera, ESP and XDL. There are seven airbags, optimised head restraints and three point seat belts.

Alltrack prices start from $37,990 (plus ORC). A driver assistance package is optional at $1300 and a sports luxury package will add $2500. Metallic or pearl effect paint is $500. With the best luggage capacity, highest torque and lowest fuel consumption in the class, the Golf Alltrack looks like being another Golf success story.

Paul Murrell

Paul Murrell

Paul’s mother knew he was a car nut when, aged three, he could identify oncoming cars from their engine note alone. By 10, he had decided what his first car would be and begun negotiations with a bank to arrange finance, the first of many expensive automotive mistakes. These days, he is happy to drive other people’s cars (on the road, off the road or on the track) and write up what’s good about them and what isn’t.