A Golf wagon on stilts

It’s been a full year since Volkswagen showcased the Golf SportWagen Alltrack in prototype form at the 2015 New York Auto Show, and the production model is finally set to make its global debut at the 2016 edition of the same event. In essence, this is a compact station wagon version of the Golf we all know and love, only this time it’s on stilts. With a higher ground clearance, wider wheel arches and a Haldex-based all-wheel-drive system, it is probably the most adventurous-looking Volkswagen that isn’t an SUV.

Unlike the European version that debuted at the 2014 Paris Motor Show, the American one features the "SportWagen" nameplate, but other than that it is identical. The Golf SportWagen Alltrack will go on sale in fall 2016, offering a non-SUV alternative to the slightly larger Tiguan.

“We heard from dealers and customers that they wanted to see a Golf SportWagen with the all-terrain capability that comes from an all-wheel drive system,” said Joerg Sommer, Vice President, Product Marketing and Strategy of Volkswagen of America. “We are excited to introduce the Golf Alltrack to meet the active lifestyle needs of our customers.

Updated 03/21/2016: Volkswagen announced it will bring the production version Golf SportWagen Alltrack at the 2016 New York Auto Show. The model is set to go on sale later in the fall.

Continue reading to learn more about the 2017 Volkswagen Golf SportWagen Alltrack.

Exterior

2017 Volkswagen Golf SportWagen Alltrack High Resolution Exterior
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2017 Volkswagen Golf SportWagen Alltrack High Resolution Exterior
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2017 Volkswagen Golf SportWagen Alltrack High Resolution Exterior
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Despite being based on the regular Golf SportWagen, the Alltrack looks pretty distinctive, even to the untrained eye. The main visual difference comes from the nearly an inch higher ground clearance and the off-road-ready bodykit. The front and rear bumpers have been redesigned, while new plastic moldings on the wheel arches, and flared side sills make for a more provocative image and also offer increased body protection for those few owners that will take the Alltrack off-road.

The 17-inch alloy wheels are bespoke, along with matte-silver trim pieces along the lower edges of the model. A set of 18-inch wheels are offered on the range-topping SEL trim. Chrome "Alltrack" badging on both the unique honeycomb grille and the tailgate make it clear that this is no ordinary VW Golf station wagon... or should I say, SportWagen.

Interior

2017 Volkswagen Golf SportWagen Alltrack High Resolution Interior
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Unlike the exterior, the Golf SportWagen Alltrack’s cabin is less flamboyant from a design standpoint, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t come equipped with exclusive features. There is a leather-trimmed steering wheel and gear-shift lever, bespoke seat covers featuring the "Alltrack" badge on the front seats, a special trim called "Dark Magnesium" on the center console and "tracks" on the dashboard and doors.

Unlike the exterior, the Golf SportWagen Alltrack's cabin is less flamboyant from a design standpoint

Additionally, a chrome trim strip with "4Motion" lettering can be found on the storage compartment’s lid, while the "Alltrack" moniker is also featured on the stainless-steel door sill plates. Various switches and buttons on the center console and doors also feature chrome accents. Standard equipment includes automatic climate control, ambient lights for the front footwells, LED reading lights for all seats, the "Composition Touch" infotainment system, the Driver Alert system, and cruise control. Optionally, buyers can go for black rooflining, sportier pedals, and foot rest with an aluminum look.

On the tech side, it comes with a 6.5-inch color touchscreen with proximity sensor, rearview camera, and VW Car-Net connectivity. It also features a Drive Mode selector that includes “Off-Road Mode,” which adds hill descent control and optimizes traction control for off-road terrain. The Off-Road HMI displays compass, steering angle, and altitude when driving off-road.

As far as utility goes, the Alltrack is as spacious as the standard Golf wagon. It provides 30.4 cubic feet of space with the rear seats up and a whopping 66.5 cubic feet when the 60:40 split rear seat is folded flat.

Drivetrain

2017 Volkswagen Golf SportWagen Alltrack High Resolution Exterior
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While the Euro-spec model is powered by four engines, three of which are diesels, the U.S. model will go on sale with only the gasoline mill. The unit in question is the familiar 1.8-liter, four-cylinder TSI availabile with nearly all Volkswagen vehicles nowadays. In the Golf SportWagen Alltrack the four-banger generates 170 horsepower and 199 pound-feet of torque, which is guided toward the wheels through a six-speed DSG automatic. A six-speed manual will be offered at a later date.

In the Golf SportWagen Alltrack the four-banger generates 170 horsepower and 199 pound-feet of torque

The 4Motion all-wheel drive system is standard and employs the latest-generation Haldex-5 coupling, activated via an electro-hydraulic oil pump. In normal driving, the Alltrack acts like a front-wheel-drive car to save fuel economy, but when the system detects wheel slip, up to 50 percent of the torque can be sent to the rear wheels. The perched wagon is also equipped with electronic differential locks at the front and rear axles, which work in conjunction with the electronic stability control system. The system briefly applies braking on a wheel that is slipping, enabling stable transfer of power to the wheel on the opposite side, giving the Alltrack efficient off-road capability.

Safety

2017 Volkswagen Golf SportWagen Alltrack High Resolution Exterior
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Much like the rest of the Golf family, the Alltrack comes with a comprehensive list safety systems on top of the front, side-impact, and overhead airbags. Standard features include Electronic Stability Control (ESC), Automatic Post-Collision Braking System, and an Intelligent Crash Response System, while the options list provides Adaptive Cruise Control, Forward Collision Warning and Autonomous Emergency Braking (Front Assist), Lane Assist, and front and rear Park Distance Control with Park Assist.

Prices

Starting price for the Golf SportWagon Alltrack is unknown at this point, but it’s is expected to cost significantly more than the standard Golf wagon. In Europe, it is priced from €30,575, a €10,775 premium over the standard Golf Variant. With that in mind, expect the U.S. version to fetch at least $28,000 before options.

Competition

Subaru XV Crosstrek

2013 Subaru XV Crosstrek Exterior AutoShow
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While technically it’s not exactly a direct rival for the Golf SportWagen Alltrack, The Subaru XV Crosstrek comes mighty close. Just like the Golf, it started as a compact hatchback and then engineers raised its suspension and added a bunch of body cladding in order to roughen its exterior looks. Slightly shorter and with less luggage-compartment volume than the Alltrack, the XV Crosstrek is essentially a hatchback Impreza on stilts, or a mini version of the Subaru Outback, if you like. Its all-wheel-drive system should in theory make it run circles around the mostly FWD Golf model, but it loses badly when it comes to the uninspired engine lineup, which makes it slower than the Volkswagen. It’s bland and plasticky interior doesn’t make things any better, while the $22,445 MSRP isn’t exactly low. On the plus side, I think it looks better than the Alltrack, but maybe that’s just me.

You can read our full review of the model here.

Jeep Compass

2014 Jeep Compass High Resolution Exterior Wallpaper quality
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Don’t be scared by its name, the Jeep Compass is probably the most car-like and least-SUV-like Jeep model in history. Mainly because it’s based on a FWD car platform, just like the Golf SportWagen Alltrack, the Compass does not excel in off-road capabilities, but at the end of the day it is still a Jeep. Available in either FWD or AWD, the model will not get a replacement if recent rumors are correct, with the smaller Renegade being more than able to take its place in the Jeep lineup. On the plus side, the Compass starts at just $18,995 if you don’t fancy all-wheel-drive ($20,995 with AWD) and looks more like a normal compact SUV than a raised hatchback, like its competitors. It is available with either a 2.0-liter or a 2.4-liter, four-cylinder engine, neither of which are overly powerful or fuel efficient.

You can read our review of the model here.

Conclusion

2017 Volkswagen Golf SportWagen Alltrack High Resolution Exterior
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While Volkswagen was never known for raised station wagons in the past, leaving that niche almost exclusively to Audi and Subaru, the Alltrack family of models is bound to change that. The Golf SportWagon Alltrack will be the only VW of its kind to reach the U.S. market, but if things go well, the Passat Alltrack may follow. Despite not bringing anything extra compared to a Tiguan, except for a bit more luggage space and a friendlier look, we kind of like the Golf SportWagen Alltrack. In the U.S. it will be in a niche of its own, and if it comes with a reasonable price than it may even outsell the regular SportWagen.

  • Leave it
    • * Not exactly trail-rated
    • * Some may prefer a real SUV

Press Release

olkswagen of America, Inc., debuted today the U.S. production version of the all-wheel-drive Golf Alltrack, which goes on sale in the Fall as a 2017 model. The Golf Alltrack is based on the successful Golf SportWagen—Volkswagen SportWagen models have long been a top choice for customers who want a versatile and dependable vehicle that provides a sportier driving experience than compact SUVs.

2017 Volkswagen Golf SportWagen Alltrack High Resolution Exterior
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“We heard from dealers and customers that they wanted to see a Golf SportWagen with the all-terrain capability that comes from an all-wheel drive system,” said Joerg Sommer, Vice President, Product Marketing and Strategy of Volkswagen of America, Inc. “We are excited to introduce the Golf Alltrack to meet the active lifestyle needs of our customers."

The Golf Alltrack shares its underpinnings with its Golf family siblings, from its MQB architecture to the turbocharged and direct-injection powertrain. The fun-to-drive EA888 1.8-liter, four-cylinder TSI® gasoline unit puts out 170 horsepower and 199 lb-ft of torque. At launch it will be mated to a six-speed dual-clutch DSG® automatic transmission: a six-speed manual transmission will be available at a later date.

While it boasts the on-road manners and fuel economy of a compact wagon, the Alltrack’s defining characteristic is its 4MOTION® all-wheel-drive system. The 4MOTION all-wheel drive system uses the latest generation Haldex-5 coupling, activated via an electro-hydraulic oil pump. In normal driving, the Alltrack acts like a front-wheel-drive car for better fuel economy, but as soon as the system detects wheel slip, up to 50 percent of the drive torque can be shipped to the rear wheels. In addition to the Haldex coupling that acts longitudinally, electronic differential locks (EDL) at the front and rear axles act laterally in concert with the electronic stability control system. The system briefly brakes a wheel that is slipping, enabling uninterrupted and stable transfer of drive power to the wheel on the opposite side. The Golf Alltrack also features nearly an inch higher ground clearance over the SportWagen.

2017 Volkswagen Golf SportWagen Alltrack High Resolution Exterior
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From the outside, the Golf Alltrack’s rugged appearance is easy to differentiate from the SportWagen. Cladding for key body pieces, including the unique bumpers, wheel wells and side sills, gives off-road protection and the front fascia incorporates foglights and a unique honeycomb grille. The S and SE trimlines have 17-inch aluminum-alloy wheels, while the topline SEL trim has 18-inch wheels. Silver detailing, including roof rails, matte mirror caps and diffusor, adds a premium touch.

Inside, Alltrack mimics SportWagen in layout, but gets a more upscale feel. Leatherette seating surfaces are standard and Alltrack receives a unique brown leatherette option in addition to aluminum pedal covers, door sills with Alltrack branding and ambient lighting. Standard infotainment features include: a 6.5-inch capacitive color touchscreen with proximity sensor, rearview camera, and VW Car-Net® App-Connect connectivity.

A Drive Mode selector includes “Off-Road Mode,” which adds hill descent control and optimizes traction control for off-road terrain. The Off-Road HMI displays compass, steering angle, and altitude when driving off-road. The Alltrack has a spacious trunk that’s in line with those of compact SUVs. With the rear seats up, it boasts 30.4 cu ft of space: when the 60:40 split rear seat is fully folded, that figure rises to 66.5 cu ft of storage. The split folding rear seats are accessed by release levers in the cargo area, maximizing convenience.

2017 Volkswagen Golf SportWagen Alltrack High Resolution Exterior Wallpaper quality
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Like the rest of the Golf line, the Alltrack provides a combination of both passive and active safety systems. It has been engineered to meet or exceed all current crash regulations and features no fewer than six airbags as standard along with a number of electronic safety systems. Alltrack models are equipped with standard Electronic Stability Control (ESC), the Automatic Post-Collision Braking System and an Intelligent Crash Response System. Available driver assistance systems include: Adaptive Cruise Control, Forward Collision Warning and Autonomous Emergency Braking (Front Assist), Lane Assist, and front and rear Park Distance Control with Park Assist.

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