By Mauricio Lezcano / carsntravel.com / Photos VW US Media Newsroom
For 2017, the Golf Alltrack, the eagerly awaited derivative of the Golf SportWagen, marries that vehicle’s practicality and fun-to-drive nature with the capabilities of 4Motion all-wheel drive and rugged exterior styling. The Alltrack offers an affordable yet upscale alternative to existing all-wheel-drive wagons that are on the market.
The Golf SportWagen body shape is immediately evident in the Alltrack, but there is absolutely no mistaking the two. Despite the overall length and width remaining roughly the same, the overall height has been increased because ride height is elevated by 0.6 inches. This change in proportions helps to make for a bolder, more capable appearance without compromising the pillars of Volkswagen design DNA, tight, crisp lines and understated-yet-modern surfaces.
From the front, the Alltrack’s rugged character becomes even more apparent, with a redesigned bumper and added underbody guard, a matte-aluminum low-profile radiator grille crossbar extending into the headlights, a lower silver crossbar that incorporates standard fog-lights and unique black honeycomb grilles.
The Alltrack’s profile also provides differentiation from the SportWagen, with body cladding on the side sills and around the wheel-arches that carries over to the lower areas of the redesigned bumpers. Unique accenting can also be seen in the silver roof rails, Reflex Silver side mirrors and lower window chrome molding. A panoramic sunroof is standard equipment on SE and SEL grades. Also, obvious from the side are the standard 17-inch aluminum-alloy Valley wheels and the impressive ground clearance of 6.9 inches.
At the back, the Alltrack sports dark-red taillights and a new bumper that is highlighted by dominant silver underbody protection, matching the style of the side sills and incorporating chrome exhaust outlets on either side. Alltrack and 4Motion badging also make it clear this is a distinctly different vehicle than its Golf brethren.
Inside, the Alltrack offers the same spacious 94.3 cubic feet of passenger volume as the SportWagen, as well as 30.4 cubic feet of cargo room behind the rear seats and 66.5 cubic feet with the rear seats folded. Headroom also remains the same at 38.6 inches, as does the front and rear shoulder room of 55.9 and 53.9 inches and front and rear legroom of 41.2 and 35.6 inches.
Despite having the same measurements, there are some notable differences that make the Alltrack’s upscale cabin stand out. V-Tex leatherette seating surfaces, including a unique Marrakesh brown color option are standard equipment across the line, along with heat-able front seats. A 12-way power driver seat is standard on the SEL trim. The unique interior equipment of the Alltrack adds a black headliner, a 4Motion-branded chrome strip on the center console, stainless-steel door kickplates with the Alltrack logo, and custom aluminum-look pedals.
In addition to the expansive interior space, driver controls are positioned to help optimize ergonomics and usability. The seat position, height of the shifter and the spacing between the pedals are fine-tuned for increased driver comfort. This driver-centric design focus is evident from the center stack, which is angled towards the driver, a feature frequently seen in premium luxury or performance vehicles. Ambient lighting further highlights this upscale character, as well as the use of premium materials throughout, such as the soft-touch plastics and leather-wrapped handbrake, shifter knob and multi-function steering wheel.
An equal amount of attention has been paid to helping to optimize comfort and convenience throughout the lineup. The Alltrack comes equipped with a long list of modern comfort, convenience and entertainment features, including power windows, locks and mirrors, rearview camera, Bluetooth technology and Volkswagen Car-Net Security and Service. KESSY keyless access with push-button start is standard equipment on SE and SEL trim levels, as is the Fender Premium Audio System, while Climatronic automatic dual-zone climate control is standard on SEL models.
As standard equipment across the Alltrack line, the MIB II infotainment system not only creates the foundation for the next generation of Volkswagen’s Car-Net connected vehicle services platform, but also offers one of the most comprehensive suites of connected vehicle services and features available in the automotive industry today. The Composition Media unit is standard in S and SE trims, while the Discover Media navigation unit is found in the SEL trim. Both MIB II units are anchored around a 6.5-inch, 800×480 capacitive color touchscreen display with proximity sensor.
The Alltrack SEL also features the Discover Media unit, which upgrades the 6.5-inch touchscreen with 2.5D Navigation, one-shot voice destination entry, predicts possible destinations based on often used routes, and Destination Entry with Quick Search and Auto-complete, and Car-Net Guide & Inform.
Compatible smartphone integration is a key part of this system, offering users the ability to run certain smartphone apps directly on the vehicle’s display through services like Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and MirroLink. Alltrack’s infotainment system also offers AUX-in, SD card and USB multimedia interfaces with Apple iPhone and iPod compatibility, as well as a rearview camera display and Bluetooth technology with audio streaming for compatible phones. Other features include the ability to sync two phones simultaneously, along with a JPEG viewer, SiriusXM Satellite Radio, HD Radio and support for lossless audio file format.
The Alltrack shares its 1.8-liter TSI engine with other members of the seventh-generation Golf lineup. This four-cylinder gasoline unit is a member of the latest EA888 engine family, utilizing turbocharged induction and direct fuel injection to help achieve excellent efficiency while still delivering impressive power. Output is rated at 170 horsepower at 4500 rpm and a stout 199 pound-feet of torque beginning at just 1600 rpm.
Across all grades, Alltrack is launching with a six-speed DSG dual-clutch automatic transmission. A six-speed manual transmission is available on the S and SE trim-lines. Regardless of transmission, power is routed to all four wheels via the 4Motion all-wheel-drive system. Also, unique to Alltrack is a large 14.5-gallon fuel tank, which offers a greater range for adventure than SportWagen’s 13.2-gallon tank. The EPA-estimated fuel economy is 30 mpg highway and 22 mpg city.
One of the Alltrack’s key features is the 4Motion permanent all-wheel-drive system. The latest-generation 4Motion system is activated before any wheelspin occurs, helping eliminate nearly all traction losses. The system achieves this by using an advanced control function based on specific driving conditions. When operating under a relatively low load or when coasting, the front wheels are driven and the rear wheels are decoupled, which can help save fuel. However, the rear wheels can be engaged in fractions of a second whenever necessary via the center differential, which is activated by an electro-hydraulic oil pump.
A control unit continually calculates the ideal drive torque for the rear wheels and controls how much the multiplate clutch should be closed by activating the oil pump. The oil pressure increases the contact pressure at the clutch plates in proportion to the torque desired at the rear axle. So, the amount of pressure applied to the clutch plates can be used to continuously vary the amount of torque going between the front and rear wheels, up to a maximum of 50 percent at the rear axle.
In addition to the center differential that acts longitudinally, electronic differential locks that are a function of the electronic stability control system act laterally. The system can briefly brake a wheel that is slipping, enabling uninterrupted and stable transfer of drive power to the wheel on the opposite side.
The fun-to-drive and rugged Golf Alltrack features a powerful, yet fuel-efficient, 1.8-liter TSI turbocharged and direct-injected four-cylinder engine that makes 170 horsepower and 199 pound-feet of torque. The Golf Alltrack offers the maneuverability of a car and the practicality of a compact SUV with lots of cargo space, and a comfortable and composed ride. The manufacturer’s suggested retail price is $29,430.00, for the 2017 VW Golf Alltrack TSI SE with 4-Motion.