Ten things to look for on the 2017 Volkswagen Golf AlltrackFollowing in the tradition of its upmarket Audi Allroad cousins, the Alltrack is here to provide a bridge between Vee-Dub’s popular cars and its SUV/crossover line-up.
After waiting a year – and watching the rest of the world come to grips with it – the VW Alltrack wagon-crossover has finally started to arrive in Canadian showrooms. Following in the tradition of its upmarket Audi Allroad cousins, the Alltrack is here to provide a bridge between Vee-Dub’s popular cars and its SUV/crossover line-up, due to expand with the addition of an all-new B-segment SUV next year.
We were recently dispatched to the wilds around Seattle, WA to put VW’s latest through its paces. Here are some of the highlights.
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It’s available soonProduction has already begun on the 2017 Volkswagen Golf Sportwagen Alltrack, and the cars should be arriving in dealers by the time you read this.
It’s ruggedThe biggest giveaway that this isn’t your average Golf wagon is the plastic cladding around the wheels and rocker panels. It’s all there to protect the paintwork from any dings it may receive when cutting it too close to a tree or stump on the narrow gravel pathways it’s built to excel on. Look more closely, however, and you’ll notice the addition of an underbody skidplate as well as all-new front and rear bumpers. The new rear facia does mean that we’re going to have to wait awhile for a rear cross-traffic alert system, as the version currently in use hasn’t been calibrated for the new car. The Alltrack trim (which is what VW is calling it for Canada; it’s an entire model line elsewhere), also comes standard with 18” “Canyon” wheels, which would look pretty purposeful even without being surrounded by plastic cladding.
It’s tallerActually, that should be “it rides taller”; in order to truly make this a vehicle that owners would think of putting through a little light off-road work, an extra 15 mm have been added to the ride height, for more ground clearance.
It’s got All-Wheel DriveEvery Alltrack you see – whether it be in Canada, the US or elsewhere – will have 4Motion AWD, as it’s fitted as standard on all cars. It normally runs as a front-biased system, with the rear wheel being provided with more traction when it’s needed. At that point, up to 70% of power can be sent rearward, and sent to either rear wheel. The Alltrack trim also adds an off-road drive mode, which we had the chance to sample. It was fantastic; a hill-descent control system is immediately activated once you activate the mode, and it works just like it does in numerous 4 x 4s and pickups I’ve sampled previously. Even when climbing a steep-ish grade with slippery, dusty boulders breaking the surface below us, the Alltrack pulled through, getting stuck only on one particularly aggressive incline when starting from 0 km/h. Judging by the signs we came across, these were trails normally reserved for ATVs and dirtbikes, and the Alltrack handled most everything we threw at it.
It’s got a turboOne engine and one engine only will be available; VW’s popular 1.8L turbo unit, good for 170 hp and 185 lb-ft of torque. While that hp figure is nothing to scream about, necessarily, the torque figure made itself felt both when we were climbing those rocks, as well as when we were putting the car through its paces on the twisty coastal highways around Seattle. And, since the peak torque figure is made at just 1,600-4,200 rpm, power is always on tap and ready. Will the hp count be an issue if the Alltrack is weighed down – as its marketed to be – by all manner of canoes and camping gear? Perhaps. Unladen, though, we took no issue and even the most outdoorsy drivers tend to use their car unladen.
It’s got a six-speed DSG and that’s all…for nowRight now, the only available transmission is VW’s well-received 6-speed DSG automatic; the Americans are slated to get a manual option but since the Alltrack exists as a single, top trim to the Golf SportWagen range in Canada, VW Canada maintains they’re unsure of the necessity of a manual option in Canadian markets. It’s coming to the US early next year, though, and VW Canada says they’ll continue to gauge interest in a manual for our market. Having said all that, the DSG is a responsive transmission that works well in conjunction with the rest of the powertrain, and there is a manual mode available. It’s just too bad that in Canada, the only way you’ll be able to operate said manual mode is with the gear lever; the Americans get wheel-mounted paddles; we Canadians…don’t.
It’s bright insideThat’s thanks, of course, to the standard panoramic moonroof which rivals the massive number found in the Range Rover Evoque when it comes to biggest in the wagon/crossover game. We must not discount, however, the sparkly 6.5 in. Display Audio interface. It’s got support for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto – VW was one of the first manufacturers to incorporate these features – and comes standard with navigation, too.
It’s loadedSince the Alltrack is acting as a top Golf SportWagen trim in Canada (it actually starts at $35,295, contrary to what’s said in the video -- we apologize for any confusion), it gets all manner of standard bells and whistles (AWD, Satellite radio, leather seats, heated seats and backup cam, to name a few) and just two additional feature packages. The first one is the Safety & Driver Assistance package ($1,310), giving automatic emergency braking, lane assist and park assist – the car can park automatically, either in a parallel or perpendicular space – and the Light and Sound Package ($1,610), which provides LED DRLs, adaptive front lights and Fender Premium Audio.
It’s loudSpeaking of that Fender audio: it provides 8-speakers plus a subwoofer and at 400W, well, let’s just say that you’ll have no problem letting any grizzlies with whom you may cross paths with during your backwoods Alltracking know that you’re around. It’s properly crisp, too, whether you’re listening to MP3s, through your Bluetooth device (Apple Carplay and Android Auto compatibility is standard) or through satellite radio, also standard.
It’s got room for you and your stuffThe rear seats split 60/40, which then provides for a nice, flat loading floor and 1,883 L of cargo volume once folded. That shrinks to 860.8 L with seats up, but even then, two adults should have no trouble getting their belongings back there. Would a 40/20/40 split – as we’re seeing in so many crossovers today – have been nice? Perhaps. Then again, VW’s claim that rear passengers get 903mm of legroom and 980mm of headroom seems a little generous as in reality it’s quite snug back there, and I don’t know how comfortable they’d be with a folded middle seat further infringing on their space. Really, you should only have one back there anyway if you’re going to fold the seats. Having said that, it would be nice to be able to keep two child seats back there without having to remove one every time you need to pack a longer item.