The Alltrack is a four-wheel-drive version of the Volkswagen Golf Estate. It sits a little higher from the road than the regular estate model, so it should drive over bumpy tracks without grounding out. It’s a similar idea to Audi’s Allroad range or Volvo’s Cross Country models – you get the load-lugging practicality of an estate with some of the go-anywhere capability of a 4×4.
Volkswagen offers just one version of the Alltrack, the 2.0 TDI 4Motion 200PS DSG, with a powerful 200hp 2.0-litre diesel matched to a seven-speed D8G auto. It comes well equipped – although so it should do, with a price of over £36,000.
What are we looking for?
This kind of price seems a bit of a stretch for a small family estate, even one as powerful and generously kitted out as the Alltrack. Is it worth the money? And how well does the Alltrack tow?
For a relatively small estate car, the Golf Alltrack is quite heavy, with a kerb weight of 1609kg. That gives an 85% match figure of 1368kg, so the VW can sensibly tow a wide variety of family tourers.
The legal towing limit is 2000kg, although we’d recommend towing no more than 85% of the kerb weight for the sake of stability, especially if you are new to towing.
We matched the Golf to a Swift Fairway 560 with a MiRO of 1344kg, and took to the road. From the moment we pulled away, the Alltrack’s engine proved well suited to towing. With 295lb ft of torque, it has more than enough pulling power to cope with a tourer like the Swift.
Acceleration was quick and decisive all the way to 60mph, so joining the motorway or overtaking dawdling traffic proved to be straightforward. The DSG auto played its part, changing down promptly in ‘drive’ or ‘sport’ mode.
On country roads, the Alltrack towed with assurance. With such a strong engine it was easy to hold speed on a steep hill, and whenever we needed to stop, pulling away again was simple.
The electronic parking brake stopped the car from rolling backwards, and the combination of four-wheel drive, a torquey engine and an automatic gearbox made for fuss-free starting, even on a slope. In damp conditions, the benefits of four-wheel drive were obvious, because we could accelerate decisively from junctions with no wheelspin.
Heading out on the motorway, the Alltrack continued to impress – up to a point. At 60mph in still air, the Golf felt stable, but we were surprised by how much the caravan tugged at the back of the car when overtaking HGVs. If we were passed by a fast-moving van at the same time as overtaking a lorry ourselves, the movements were more pronounced.
This was unexpected, not just because the Golf had seemed so secure on country roads, but because other Golfs we’ve driven have been more composed.
The Alltrack’s higher ride height may play a part, but a difference of 15mm seems too small to account for this. The estate’s extra distance from the towball to the rear axle, compared with the Golf hatch, will have given the caravan a bit more leverage, and may also have contributed.
Switching the optional adaptive dampers (£795) from ‘comfort’ to ‘sport’ helped. It didn’t stop the movements, but it did bring the Golf’s stability closer to expectations.
Arrive at your destination, and the VW manoeuvres well. Smooth and light controls make it easy to control your speed and direction, and the throttle and gearbox allow for steady, controlled reversing.
A rear-view camera helps with your aim when hitching up, but it’s a surprise that this costs extra (£300) on such an expensive car.
The towball drops down at the press of a button, and the electrics are mounted on the side, where they are easy to reach without the back bumper getting in the way.
The Golf makes a very fine all-rounder for daily driving. Without the extra weight of a caravan, performance is very punchy. Volkswagen claims a 0-62mph time of just 7.1 seconds. Even when accelerating hard, the engine doesn’t sound too strained.
With the gearbox in ‘drive’ and adaptive dampers in ‘comfort’ mode, the Alltrack is a smooth and relaxed cruiser. Long journeys are meat and drink to the VW, thanks to the ride comfort, quiet cabin and supportive driving position.
On country roads, you can switch the gearbox and suspension to sportier setting, and enjoy a more agile and dynamic drive.
Paddles behind the steering wheel mean you can take charge of gear selection if you prefer, although the DSG responds quickly.
Around town, switch back to ‘comfort’ mode and the Golf copes well with all but the worst potholes and bumps. Its relatively modest size means that it will squeeze into smaller spaces than some of the larger estate cars you could buy for similar money.
Space and practicality
The Golf isn’t the largest of estate cars on the outside, but it packs a lot of room inside.
Up front, both driver and passenger have plenty of space to stretch out. Even with the panoramic sunroof fitted to our test car (a £1000 option) there’s plenty of headroom, unless you’re a tall driver who likes to sit with their seat set high.
There’s a wide range of adjustment for both seat and steering wheel, and we found it easy to establish a comfortable driving position.
Settle in behind the wheel, and you’ll notice there’s a digital display in front of you rather than conventional dials. You can tweak the display to show different information, using controls on the steering wheel.
The 10-inch touchscreen in the centre of the dash controls the navigation, stereo and any smartphone linked by Android Auto or Apple CarPlay. The temperature and fan speed controls are separate, but the touch-sensitive pads below the screen are hard to use without taking your eyes from the road.
In the back of the car, a bulky transmission tunnel will get in the way if you’re travelling with three rear-seat passengers.
But there’s enough head- and legroom to accommodate a 6ft passenger behind an equally tall driver. Air vents between the front seats will ensure everyone in the back is at a comfortable temperature, and there are USB-C ports to keep mobile phones and tablets charged.
The boot has a 611-litre capacity, which compares well with the luggage space in most rivals. You can vary the height of the boot floor so it sits flush with the tailgate, or lower it to create one large space.
As standard, there’s a tyre repair kit, but our test car had the optional space-saver space under the boot floor (£100).
Buying and owning
You might raise an eyebrow at the Alltrack’s £36,235 price tag. You can buy bigger estates and some heavier SUVs for similar money. On the other hand, What Car’s research suggests some healthy discounts are available, so you should be able to save almost £4000 by exercising a little persuasion.
For a four-wheel drive car with strong performance, fuel economy is impressive. The Alltrack returned a commendable 29.5mpg while towing.
For the most part, the Alltrack is well equipped, but there are some surprising omissions. Three-zone climate control is included in the price, as are front and rear parking sensors, sat nav, sports seats and a wide range of connected services, including e-Call for contacting the emergency services after a crash. However, you’ll pay extra if you want a rear-view camera and heated seats.
Safety standards are high, and the Golf has achieved the maximum five stars when tested by the crash test experts at Euro NCAP. There’s a good range of electronic driver aids included in the price, but the lane-keeping system can be heavy-handed in operation, especially on country roads where you might not want to position the vehicle in the centre of the lane.
How much will it cost on finance?
You can lease the Volkswagen Golf Alltrack for £549.02 per month from Drivespeed Leasing Ltd. The initial rental is £4941.18 and the contract lasts for three years. The deal allows for 10,000 miles per year, after which penalty charges apply. Maintenance not included.
The Alltrack has many of the features we look for in a tow car. There’s a diesel engine with a surfeit of pulling power, four-wheel drive, and plenty of room for both passengers and luggage.
However, after a week with the VW, we found that we liked the Golf, rather than loved it.
The price tag doesn’t help. Costing £36,000 before adding options , and £42,000 with extras included is a bit stiff for a Golf-sized car. There are bigger, heavier tow cars you could buy for that sort of money.
Hill starts are a doddle, acceleration is decisive and in still air, the Alltrack is stable. But we were surprised that the VW didn’t cope better when overtaking lorries and coaches. Let’s get this in perspective – we weren’t sweaty-palmed with worry, but nor did we feel quite as relaxed as we might have expected.
In solo driving, we enjoyed the Alltrack’s ability to be comfortable one moment and agile the next, helped by the optional adaptive suspension. Whether commuting, driving on a B-road or schlepping from one end of the country to another, the VW is right at home.
It’s practical, too, with plenty of space for people and bags. We just wish the infotainment system was more straightforward, and the car had regular buttons and switches rather than fiddly touchpads.
The Alltrack has lots of gadgets and safety kit – and it ought to at this price. It’s a solid all-weather tow car, but there’s better value lower down the Golf range.
Or you could try…
Škoda Octavia Estate vR5 2.0 TDi 200PS DSG 4×4 • Price New from £36,055
With the same engine as the Alltrack, the Octavia has promise
Subaru Forester 2.0 e-Boxer • Price New from £36,360
Practical and capable, but hampered by a thirsty engine. Worth a look if you tow all year
Audi A6 Allroad 3.0 BiTDI Sport Tiptronic • Price Used £27,995 seen on 16-plate, 53,000 miles
Staggering performance and stability, but not cheap to run
Volvo V60 Cross Country D4 Lux Nav AWD Geartronic • Price Used £17,499 seen on 15-plate, 39,400 miles
Very good value at this price, and offers secure and stable towing
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Acceleration was quick and decisive all the way to 60mph, so joining the motorway or overtaking dawdling traffic proved to be straightforward
|Engine Size||1968 cc|
|85% KW||1368 kg|
|Towball Limit||80 kg|
|Maximum Towing Limit||2000 kg|
|Torque||295 lb ft|
|Offical MPG||50.4 mpg|
|Towing MPG||29.5 mpg|