Nearly a year ago Volkswagen showed us the SportWagen Alltrack prototype at the New York Auto Show. Well here we are a full year later, and VW have put that same prototype into production. Yes, the 2017 Volkswagen Golf Alltrack is now a real thing you can buy yourself. It’s probably the most capable all-rounder VW makes apart from maybe the bigger SUVs, and we’ll get to why in a minute.
Just to avoid any confusing, it’s worth mentioning that the Golf Alltrack goes by the name SportWagen in the U.S. So whether you see a review about the Alltrack, SportWagen or even the SportWagen Alltrack just know that it’s the same car under different names.
Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s take a closer look at the Alltrack. For starters, this is not a GTI alternative, and that much is immediately apparent. It’s actually built as a Tiguan alternative for people who like off-road capabilities and better well-rounded car, but don’t like taking the SUV route of the Tiguan or similar cars.
Despite being based on a standard Golf Wagon, it’s actually very distinctive. You don’t have to be a car enthusiast or fanatic to spot the immediately visible differences. For one thing, it’s a whole inch higher than the standard car and there’s a unique off-road body kit which you can’t miss. The bumpers on both ends of the car are redesigned to suite the bigger ground clearance more, as well as to give a different visual clue.
And it’s the same thing with the side wheel arches. They have been topped with plastic moldings to enhance the style and the further state the fact that this is no ordinary Golf, but rather one that can do things you might not even know of. We don’t think a lot of users will take the Alltrack off-road, but it’s nice to know that it can do it. There’s also flared side sills further assisting it in doing so.
The unique 17-inch wheels are custom made for the 2017 Volkswagen Golf Alltrack, and there are even bigger 18-inch rollers available as an option on the flagship SEL trim. The side skirts have matte/silver pieces on the very end of them, imitating the look of the much bigger SUVs.
Just so you don’t confuse it with a normal Golf (not that you could), there are chromed “Alltrack” badges on the front honeycomb grille as well as on the tailgate.
Apart from that, it’s the usual Golf styling. The front fascia, headlights and grille in particular are the same, and so is the rear section. The roofline indicates a Golf wagon, although the roof racks may be a giveaway to some people. If it weren’t raised from the ground you’d have a harder time telling it’s an Alltrack.
The interior is all mostly Golf, and you would have a hard time telling it apart if you were brought in blindfolded. Still, there are a few distinguishing features that make at least some difference, visually if nothing else. There’s a leather steering wheel and shift lever, special seat covers with “Alltrack” branding stitched into them and a unique trim “Dark Magnesium” seen on the center console.
Just to indicate the specialness of the car, there is even a chromed “4Motion” badges on the lid for the storage compartment, and more badges on the door sill plates which by the way, are stainless steel. More chrome can be found on the various buttons and switches throughout the cabin.
As far as infotainment goes, there’s VW’s “Composition Touch” system, a Driver Alert system and even LED reading lights for every occupant. The screen is a 6.5-inch display with touchscreen technology and a proximity sensor which can display the rearview camera and the VW Car-Net connectivity. Special to the 2017 Volkswagen Golf Alltrack is an “Off-Road Mode” featuring a hill descent control and improved off-road traction control.
The materials are taken from the Golf, and as such they are high-quality as expected. There’s more than enough head and legroom for all occupants, even taller ones and the increased ride height gives you more command over the road. There’s 30.4 cubic feet available behind the third row of seats, a number which goes up to 66.5 if you fold the 60/40 split rear seats.
Engine Lineup, Performance
The European model will get three diesels and one gasoline, but the U.S. one doesn’t have that luxury. Instead, the only unit is a 1.8L TSI 4-cylinder engine developing 170 hp and 199 lb-ft of torque. The European one will get the same output, but we’ll have to wait and see the diesel specifications. Our guess is that the 2.0L TDI will come in guises of 130, 140 and 170 horses, but there’s some time to go before we find out.
The petrol engine is mated to a 6-speed DSG, although a six-speed manual will become available at a later date. The power is sent to all four wheels via the 4Motion system. It’s the most sophisticated one yet, taking advantage of the Hladex-5 coupling and it’s activated using a hydraulic-electro pump.
To save fuel and wear and tear, the 2017 Volkswagen Golf Alltrack is front-wheel drive in most situations except when slip is detected. Then, up to 50 percent of available torque can be sent to the rear wheels as well. Just like any decent off-road capable car, the Alltrack has electronic differential locks at both axles. These work together with the ESC, meaning that individual brakes can be applied to the specified wheels, giving the car more turn-in and sending the power to the correct side which needs it.
2017 Volkswagen Golf Alltrack Price
The European 2017 Volkswagen Golf Alltrack starts at €30,000, quite a bit more than the standard wagon Golf. Nothing has been announced for the U.S. version, but taking in the European price and the capabilities of the car it’s reasonable to expect a starting price tag of at least $30,000 for the base model. We reckon it’ll be worth every dollar, just because of how capable it is.