Strange, but only a year after this smart little Golf Alltrack crossover wagon came to market, Volkswagen changed things up for 2018. The Alltrack before you is a 2019, a mostly carryover model that didn’t look updated to my eyes at all until I started comparing the photos I took earlier this week against a 2017 model I reviewed toward the end of that year.
Most noticeable are the LED signatures within the halogen or LED headlamps, depending on trim, plus the redesigned LED taillights, but VW says it modified the front and rear bumpers too, although I can’t tell the difference. Even the front and rear fascia trim looks identical, not to mention all the detailing down the sides.
The colour is different from the car I reviewed in 2017, this Peacock Green Metallic version looking comparatively subdued next to my previous tester’s bright Tornado Red, while the 2017 car’s Titan Black innards have been swapped out for Shetland beige.
The Golf Alltrack’s interior received upgrades from model year 2017 to 2018 as well, including a six-speed manual gearbox for those who enjoy shifting for themselves, or alternatively paddle-shifters with the optional six-speed automatic, while the most dramatic addition was a new state-of-the-art 8.0-inch centre touchscreen replacing the old outdated looking 6.5-inch unit. The new system incorporates the expected (and mandated) backup camera with the unexpected omission of dynamic guidelines, plus Android Auto, Apple CarPlay and MirrorLink smartphone integration, and plenty of interfaces for the standard six-speaker audio system with satellite radio, Bluetooth phone and audio streaming connectivity, voice recognition, additional apps, car systems, and more. It even uses proximity-sensing technology to expose digital buttons when your hand gets near.
Other standard features include 4Motion all-wheel drive, 17-inch alloy wheels on 205/55 all-season tires, automatic headlights with coming and leaving functions, fog lamps, silver finished side mirror caps, silver roof rails, proximity-sensing keyless access with pushbutton start/stop, rain-sensing wipers, cruise control, power windows, a leather-wrapped multifunction steering wheel, a leather-clad shift knob and handbrake lever, simulated carbon fibre decorative inlays, brushed stainless steel foot pedals, dual-zone automatic climate control, a USB port, three-way heatable and two-way powered front seats (they’re eight-way manually adjustable), leatherette upholstery, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, ambient lighting, LED reading lamps, illuminated vanity mirrors, a large powered panoramic sunroof with a powered sunshade made from an opaque fabric, a scrolling rear cargo cover, 12- and 115-volt charging outlets in the cargo area, 60/40 split-folding rear seatbacks with a centre pass-through, and the list goes on and on.
The base Highline model starts at just $31,200 with the manual or $1,400 more for the automatic (check out CarCostCanada for the latest prices on trims, packages and individual options, plus manufacturer rebate info and dealer invoice pricing that could save you thousands), while the car in our garage this week has been upgraded to Execline trim, which starts at $35,270, and features standard 18-inch alloys on 225/40 all-seasons, LED headlights with active cornering lamps, paddle shifters with the automatic transmission, navigation with detailed mapping, an SD card slot, a Fender audio system with a subwoofer, front sport seats, a 12-way powered driver’s seat with two-way powered lumbar, and leather upholstery.
VW also included the only optional upgrade, a $1,750 Driver Assistance Plus package that adds autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian monitoring, blindspot detection with rear cross-traffic assist, lane assist, automatic high beam control, adaptive cruise control with stop and go, plus park assist with park distance control.
The Alltrack is mechanically identical to previous model years, sporting Volkswagen’s well-proven turbocharged 1.8-litre four-cylinder engine making 170 horsepower and 199 lb-ft of torque. The transmission is VW’s dual-clutch automated gearbox, and the all-wheel drive system doesn’t offer any low gearing or even a locking diff, so it’s suited more for rain, snow and light-duty off-road. Transport Canada estimated fuel economy numbers are 11.1 L/100km in the city, 7.8 on the highway and 9.6 combined for the manual, and 10.7, 8.0 and 9.4 respectively for the automatic.
The suspension is Volkswagen’s usual front strut and rear multi-link design, but not all cars in the compact class offer the latter so it’s a bonus for sure, while the shocks are exclusive to the Alltrack due to its one-inch ride-height lift over its Golf SportWagen donor car. The power steering is speed-sensitive to improve feel, while the vented front and solid rear brake discs measure 286 and 272 mm respectively.
The big difference with the Alltrack or the just-noted SportWagen when compared to regular Golf hatchbacks is cargo space, with the two elongated models getting 368 additional litres (13.0 cubic feet) of volume behind the 60/40-split rear seatbacks and 362 (12.8) more when they’re folded flat, the larger car’s cargo capacity measuring 861 and 1,883 litres (30.4 and 66.5 cu ft) respectively. The Alltrack even gets an extra 14 kilos (31 lbs) of additional payload capacity to go along with the added space, resulting in a 459 kg (1,012 lbs) maximum.
Of course, I’ll talk about how livable, refined and enjoyable (or not) everything is in my upcoming road test review, so stay tuned…