Car reviews - Volkswagen - Golf - Alltrack 135 TDI Premium
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Clean Volkswagen interior and multimedia interface, practicality, sweet spot size-wise, great boot space, strong diesel
Room for improvement
Annoying idle-stop function, petrol more enjoyable to drive, ride a tad firm, MMI loses tactile knobs
The Volkswagen Golf Alltrack 135TDI Premium is the consummate all-rounder
8 Aug 2018
IN JULY 2017, Volkswagen gave its Golf range a mid-life update with some light visual tweaks, specification upgrades, new technology and some increases in price.
The most expensive non-performance model in the Golf range is the soft-roading Alltrack wagon, in top-spec 135TDI Premium guise.
On paper, the Alltrack seems like a jack-of-all-trades – generous interior space, relatively compact exterior dimensions, all-wheel drive and a German interior – making for a compelling package.
Unfortunately, VW has just dropped all diesel versions of the Golf in Australian due to issues around testing for the new Worldwide harmonised Light vehicle Test Procedure (WLPT), meaning there are not too many left in stock. We sampled the oil-burning Alltrack a few months back to see how it stacks up against its crossover rivals.
Price and equipment
At $41,490 plus on-road costs, Alltrack 135TDI Premium is the most expensive non-performance variant in the Golf line-up, which comes as no surprise when reading the standard specification list and seeing the layout of the interior.
Our test vehicle also comes with the optional Driver Assistance package, that includes Volkswagen’s 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, adaptive cruise control, emergency assist, lane assist, park assist, proactive occupant protection system and traffic jam assist, and adds $1800 to the Alltrack’s asking price, bringing the total to $43,290 plus on-roads.
With the removal of the Octavia Scout from Skoda’s range, the Alltrack struggles for direct competition, but potential buyers may also look at the Renault Megane GT wagon ($42,490), Peugeot 308 Allure Blue HDi ($37,990), the more affordable Holden Astra LT Sportwagon ($29,940) and slightly larger offerings like the Subaru Levorg 1.6 GT Premium ($42,890), Mazda6 GT wagon ($45,290) and Ford Mondeo Trend TDCi wagon ($42,840).
Standard equipment on the Alltrack 135TDI Premium includes 17-inch alloys, LED daytime running lights and tail-lights, LED cornering headlights, black cladding around the wheelarches and bumpers, chrome roof rails, leather-appointed upholstery, comfort heated sport front seats, dual-zone climate control, 8.0-inch touchscreen multimedia system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, leather multi-function steering wheel, keyless entry, rain-sensing wipers, and driving profile selection with off-road mode.
Safety equipment includes seven airbags, ABS brakes, brake assist, electronic brake-force distribution, multi-collision brake, Isofix child seat anchorage points, reversing camera, front and rear parking sensors, parking assistant, distance warning display, driver fatigue detection system, front assist with city emergency brake and pedestrian monitoring and tyre pressure warning.
The Alltrack 135TDI is a well-equipped vehicle, offering the customer just about everything they would need in a daily driver. The only notably absence is DAB+ digital radio which should be specified on the range’s most expensive non-performance variant.
Overall, the generous amount equipment for the money makes the Alltrack is a well-rounded offering.
Volkswagen is known for its clean, almost minimalist ergonomic interiors, and the latest iteration of the Golf’s cabin is no exception.
Operation of the multimedia interface and air-conditioning controls are simple and intuitive, and can be figured out by just about anyone in a matter of minutes.
Volkswagen’s infotainment system is easily navigated, crisp and clear, although in the Golf 7.5 update, the two tactile knobs controlling the volume and sat-nav zoom have been deleted, meaning volume control is done through a button function on the edge of the touchscreen or steering wheel, impacting usability.
The move away from tactile buttons towards a more minimalist layout is generally a good thing, but can sometimes go overboard.
The glossy centre console surrounds and black dash and door trim contain hard plastics, however the rest of the cabin is made up of an attractive blend of leather and soft plastics.
USB, auxiliary and 12V ports are located at the base of the centre dash, while a generous glovebox, overhead sunglasses compartment, modest centre storage and small drivers-side glovebox comprise the storage options.
The 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster is included as part of Volkswagen’s Driver Assistance package, which is one of the niftiest features in any VW model with its excellent customisation and usefulness.
As the name would suggest, the Alltrack’s comfort seats are supportive and supple, while the leather-wrapped steering wheel sits comfortably in the hands and houses the usual array of wheel-mounted controls.
Rear passengers have two A/C vents and cupholders from the drop-down armrest, however no USB or 12V charging ports are available. While interior packaging is one of the Alltrack’s strengths, rear legroom could definitely be improved.
Perhaps the legroom is sacrificed in favour of the boot, because the size of the luggage area is impressive, especially for a car of its size. Luggage volume stands at 605 litres, which expands to 1620L with the 60/40 split-fold rear seats down.
Two cavities also exist on each side of the boot floor for smaller items, while two shopping bag hooks and a luggage cover add versatility.
Overall the Alltrack’s interior is typically excellent, while the generous boot space gives it a big point of difference over the Golf hatch and comparable sedan offerings.
Engine and transmission
Powering the Alltrack is a 2.0-litre turbo-diesel four-cylinder engine outputting 135kW from 3500-400rpm and 380Nm of torque from 1750-3000rpm.
Power is sent to all four wheels via a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission, with the Alltrack’s 4Motion all-wheel-drive system featuring an off-road mode for those who are feeling adventurous.
Performance from the 135TDI engine is comfortably adequate without being terribly impressive, with the oil-bruner slightly sluggish on acceleration but strong and torquey once moving.
Gear changes are smooth, however power delivery lacks linearity as the torque comes on in a more surging fashion.
If long-distance travel is on the cards, the diesel is the engine of choice, but for day-to-day urban driving, the 132TSI petrol engine is preferable.
Not only is the petrol more nimble off the line, is has a smoother driving character that lends itself to stop-start motoring more so than the diesel. Power delivery is more linear and gives the Alltrack a more Golf-like driving experience.
The diesel also has a bit of a rough engine idle, although a relatively quiet cabin neutralises most of its effects.
Our test vehicle recording a figure of 6.9L/100km over mainly urban driving, up on the 5.4L/100km official combined figure.
Our only real gripe with the Alltrack’s drivetrain is the idle-stop system, which tends to be jarring when paired with a Volkswagen dual-clutch transmission. The transmission’s elastic nature from standstill gives the engine start a delayed throttle reaction, making for jerky and uncertain acceleration when using the idle-stop system.
Ride and handling
The Golf has built its reputation as a well-made car with nimble handling, and despite the additional size, the Alltrack follows in its hatch sibling’s footsteps.
Steering gives solid feedback, and cornering makes the Alltrack feel like a Golf hatch despite its additional size.
Turn-in response is sharp and direct, and the all-wheel-drive system gives the Alltrack extra grip in and out of corners.
Suspension could have done with a slightly softer calibration, as bumps and road imperfections are felt through the cabin. The Alltrack rides on rims larger than 17 inches in size.
Noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) levels are generally commendable, with a lack of rattles and noise intrusion giving the Alltrack the feeling of a well-built car.
The handling characteristics of the Alltrack add to its all-round excellent nature, as it drives and handles like a city car, while offering the roominess and diverse skill set of larger, more unwieldy offerings.
Safety and servicing
The Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP) tested the front-drive Golf range when the Mark 7 version arrived in Australia back in 2013, which also covers the Mark 7.5 update in July. As an all-wheel-drive variant, the Alltrack remains untested.
ANCAP handed down a five-star rating to the Golf with an overall score of 35.92 out of 37, registering strong results in the frontal and side impact tests, while scoring an ‘acceptable’ mark for the pedestrian protection test.
Standard safety kit includes seven airbags, ABS brakes, brake assist, electronic brake-force distribution, multi-collision brake, Isofix child seat anchorage points, reversing camera, front and rear parking sensors, parking assistant, distance warning display, driver fatigue detection system, front assist with city emergency brake and pedestrian monitoring and tyre pressure warning, while the Driver Assistance package adds adaptive cruise control, emergency assist, lane assist, park assist, proactive occupant protection system and traffic jam assist.
The Golf range comes with a three-year/unlimited kilometre warranty, while scheduled servicing covers five years/75,000km, with intervals every 12 months/15,000km, whichever comes first.
Pricing for each of the five services ranges between $310 and $623, and averages out at $461.40 per service.
For buyers that place an emphasis on all-round usability, few cars can match the versatility of the Golf Alltrack.
It packages a small car with excellent interior and luggage space, nimble and easy handling, the potential to go off-road (not too far off-road, mind you), a smart multimedia layout and a capable diesel powertrain.
If we were to choose we would take the 132TSI petrol over the slightly clumsy diesel, however if a big load or long commute is involved, the oil-burner is the choice.
The idle-stop system/dual-clutch transmission setup continues to be a problem for Volkswagen, however it can easily be remedied by turning idle-stop off. The ride can also do with a more supple suspension calibration, but is otherwise comfortable.
For a car that aims to be a jack-of-all-trades, the Golf Alltrack is an excellent pick.
Renault Megane GT wagon from $42,490 plus on-roads
Renault’s new-generation Megane comes with three different wagon offerings, the most expensive of which being the top-spec GT. It employs a 151kW/280Nm 1.6-litre turbo-petrol powertrain, powering the front wheels via a seven-speed dual-clutch auto.
Peugeot 308 Allure Blue HDi wagon form $37,990 plus on-roads
Peugeot's sole wagon offering in the 308 range comes from the 110kW/370Nm turbo-diesel Allure Blue HDi. It offers miserly fuel economy, sharp styling and French flair as an alternative to the Volkswagen.
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