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    Learning The Dark Arts Of Driving A Manual Transmission


    • Our Staff Writer Learns To Drive A Manual Transmission

    For the past few years as an automotive writer, I've been keeping something quiet from a lot people. Some, including some of the members of this site know this secret. It's something that I have been slightly embarrassed by for the position that I have and know that it has kept some doors shut.

    I can't fully work a manual transmission.

    (Please put down the pitchforks and torches. Thank you.)

    It's not like I have never attempted to learn how to use a manual transmission before. The first time I ever drove a manual transmission in my friend Adam's 1991 Isuzu Stylus sedan. We drove around in a parking lot with me learning how to disengage the clutch and listen to the engine as a way to tell when to upshift. A year or two later, my dad and I took my younger brother's 1998 Subaru Legacy Wagon to do the same. For the most part, I was feeling ok with driving a manual transmission vehicle, even when I stalled it every few moments.

    But that all changed when I decided to take the Legacy out for a quick spin at night and only made it to end of our street because. I stalled the vehicle when leaving a stop and it wouldn't start back up. This made me felt that I had broken it. So I had to make that long walk of shame back to the house and call for a tow truck. It was determined that I didn't break the vehicle. Instead the alternator was found to be cause as it wasn't generating enough power. But even with that, I had made the decision to swear off learning and driving a manual transmission vehicle.

    Now admitting something like this out in public only would invite criticism and sarcasm. Just telling this to my family only got me mocked and ridiculed.

    But what I didn't say was my thought about the whole experience. While I did feel like I made some end-roads and knew that more doors would open if I understood how to work a manual, I also knew with the proclamation that I made about never driving, let alone learning; I had given up too easily. This was only made more apparent when I had to turn down a vehicle because it had a manual transmission last year.

    But this year, I made a promise to myself. I would get over the proclamation that I had made and once for all learn to drive a manual. But how was I going to do it? I vowed never to learn on my brother's vehicle since I thought that would only bring me bad luck. I also didn't want to use one of the vehicles that I review since I was worried that I would cause some sort of damage. I found myself in a tough spot.

    But unbeknownst to me, lady luck had a surprise in store for me.

    Last month, I was getting ready to swap review vehicles. Taking the place of the vehicle I had drove for the past week was a 2014 Volkswagen Jetta TDI. I wanted to see how the diesel model stacked up to both the Chevrolet Cruze Turbodiesel and Jetta Hybrid I had driven last year. After signing the paperwork and trading keys, I found myself going through the paperwork of the Jetta TDI to familiarize myself of what I would be driving around for the week. But as I was reading through the window sticker, a chill ran down my spine. I thought that I was getting one that was equipped with the six-speed DSG gearbox. But the window sticker said it was equipped with a six-speed manual. I went outside to look at the vehicle and to my horror, it was equipped with a six-speed manual transmission.

    2014 Volkswagen Jetta TDI 2

    Now I had three options with the Jetta TDI:

    • Leave it in the driveway for the week
    • Call the company and ask if they can pick it up since I cannot drive a stick
    • Take the plunge and learn once and for all to drive a manual

    The first option was out of the question since Volkswagen gave me the vehicle to drive for a week. In return, I supposed to write something about my experience. Writing about how the Jetta TDI just sat there for a week didn't seem like the most appealing story. Option two was also a non-starter since I knew that I would be met with grief and sarcasm. So that left option three. At first I was very hesitant to the idea since I was worried about damaging the vehicle, i.e. worst case scenario. But somehow I was able to have some common sense enter my thoughts and calm me down to a point.

    "You have learned how to release the clutch pedal and the 1-2 shift. You're well ahead of those who don't even know how even to how to work the transmission. Just keep practicing and expanding your range, and you'll be able to open doors," I found myself saying.

    So I made the decision to keep the Jetta TDI and learn for once and for all to drive a manual. When I made this announcement at dinner, it was surprise to everyone. Even I couldn't believe what came out of my mouth when I said that I plan to keep the vehicle and learn to drive a manual transmission.

    After dinner, my dad and I climbed into the Jetta and made our way to the high school parking lot, a place that was big enough for me to practice. Once we arrived to the parking lot, we began with the basics; getting the vehicle to move on its own by letting off the clutch pedal. This was a tricky proposition for me since I knew that I couldn't release the pedal to fast or else the vehicle would stall. So began a marathon of stalling and keeping the Jetta running by hitting the clutch pedal if I thought the car would stall.

    But then something hit me. I began to not pay attention to the rev counter and started to listen to the engine note as my signal of when to get back on or keep removing my foot off the clutch. Once I figured this out, I started to let my foot my off at the right point that the vehicle wouldn't stall and it moved under its own power. We did this a few times before moving onto the next item; the transition from clutch to gas. This was a tricky thing for me before as I was either too slow or fast on the transition. Also the foot work was going to be a problem as I would have to coordinate my left and right legs to get going. Again, it took a few times and some stalling before my feet were working somewhat together and moving along at a somewhat reasonable rate.

    Once I had the practiced the basics and felt somewhat comfortable, we headed back home. I felt nervous as I piloted the Jetta TDI, worried that I would stall the vehicle and possibly cause an accident. But I didn't. As I pulled into the driveway and parked the Jetta, I breathed a heavy sigh of relief. I had drove the Jetta TDI and not damaged the vehicle, or anyone else around me. I considered it a great success.

    As the week went on, I would take some time to drive around in the Jetta TDI. Not only to practice, but to also make me feel not as nervous when driving with a manual transmission. Despite stalling the vehicle once in a while, I was beginning to feel more comfortable. I was also coming to a realization. In a way. the manual transmission is the last control a person has over the car. The feeling of doing something to move the car; being a part of the machinery. Before, a person felt more in control with a vehicle due to mechanical steering, the accelerator pulling a cable, and a number of other items. But with the advent of technology and the desire to improve efficiency, the driver was slowly removed out of the picture. In a way, the manual transmission is the last bastion for a driver.

    When the Volkswagen Jetta TDI was picked up, I was both happy and elated. Happy that I was finally able to feel a little bit more comfortable with driving a manual transmission. Elated that the Jetta TDI and I had survived with no damage. I thought to myself as the Jetta drove away, I wonder what vehicle I could ask for next with a manual transmission.

    Disclaimer: Volkswagen Provided the Jetta TDI, Insurance, and One Tank of Diesel

    William Maley is a staff writer for Cheers & Gears. He can be reached at william.maley@cheersandgears.com or you can follow him on twitter at @realmudmonster.

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    Awesome to read how you overcame your fear of the Manual and now can drive anything. Way to Go Bill! :D

     

    While using a manual exclusively for teaching people to drive a manual will shorten the life a bit of the clutch, over all they are beefy enough transmissions to handle it and still give an outstanding experience. Manuals are fun to drive. Be interesting to see how much longer they stick around since Auto's are stronger and get better gas mileage now in most cases.

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    I've driven a 3-spd, 3-spd on the column, a 4-spd and a 5-spd, but it's been over 15 years since I've been 'sticking it'. Without putting my skill to the test, I'd say I very well may have 'lost it'. I prefer an automatic, anyway. But if I'm going to drive my truck this fall, I'm going to need to require the skill cold, esp with a non-synchro 4-spd.

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    I've driven a 3-spd, 3-spd on the column, a 4-spd and a 5-spd, but it's been over 15 years since I've been 'sticking it'. Without putting my skill to the test, I'd say I very well may have 'lost it'. I prefer an automatic, anyway. But if I'm going to drive my truck this fall, I'm going to need to require the skill cold, esp with a non-synchro 4-spd.

     

    You'll pick it back up again after no more than 3 stalls.  The only manuals I ever have difficulty with are Honda 4-cylinders... I'm just not used to the lack of torque.

    Also... the Jetta TDI was probably a good car to learn on because of the huge amounts of low end torque and therefor less propensity to stall...  I also feel that the GM 6-speed manual paired with the 1.4T in the Sonic and Cruze are excellent units as well.

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    Kudos buddy. Now a wild world of fun awaits for you.

     

    I learned to drive stick shift, rather drive, on a diesel also. Diesels are easy to learn on, as they have such a huge torque. You can start by just removing your foot of the clutch pedal before even synchronizing to push the gas pedal. The vehicle will run on idle. That is how I drive the Z06 in traffic. If the traffic ahead stops, all I do is depress the clutch pedal or push it in neutral and cruise. Sticks are no more pain in BTBT (Bumper to Bumber Traffic) than people claim.

     

    Manual transmission is not about being fast, or being more fuel miserly, or being more pleasing, it is about control. Once you have control all the three come in your hands. That is why I love manual transmissions. Too bad young drivers are not even giving it a willing shot like you did.

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    I've driven a 3-spd, 3-spd on the column, a 4-spd and a 5-spd, but it's been over 15 years since I've been 'sticking it'. Without putting my skill to the test, I'd say I very well may have 'lost it'. I prefer an automatic, anyway. But if I'm going to drive my truck this fall, I'm going to need to require the skill cold, esp with a non-synchro 4-spd.

     

    You'll pick it back up again after no more than 3 stalls.  The only manuals I ever have difficulty with are Honda 4-cylinders... I'm just not used to the lack of torque.

    Also... the Jetta TDI was probably a good car to learn on because of the huge amounts of low end torque and therefor less propensity to stall...  I also feel that the GM 6-speed manual paired with the 1.4T in the Sonic and Cruze are excellent units as well.

     

     

    LOL. This is true about Hondas. I still stall my TSX once a while. But by God, the Honda stick actions are the best in business. Nothing comes close. After driving the new Accord Sport, I feel the action is better than what Porsche currently makes.

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    Z I am surprised as I find Honda Stick totally lacking in any excitement or driving pleasure. They are just bland nothing there. This could also be due to me always driving manual trucks.

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    I've driven a 3-spd, 3-spd on the column, a 4-spd and a 5-spd, but it's been over 15 years since I've been 'sticking it'. Without putting my skill to the test, I'd say I very well may have 'lost it'. I prefer an automatic, anyway. But if I'm going to drive my truck this fall, I'm going to need to require the skill cold, esp with a non-synchro 4-spd.

     

    You'll pick it back up again after no more than 3 stalls.  The only manuals I ever have difficulty with are Honda 4-cylinders... I'm just not used to the lack of torque.

    Also... the Jetta TDI was probably a good car to learn on because of the huge amounts of low end torque and therefor less propensity to stall...  I also feel that the GM 6-speed manual paired with the 1.4T in the Sonic and Cruze are excellent units as well.

     

     

    LOL. This is true about Hondas. I still stall my TSX once a while. But by God, the Honda stick actions are the best in business. Nothing comes close. After driving the new Accord Sport, I feel the action is better than what Porsche currently makes.

     

     

    I really want to drive the Accord Sport with the 6MT. I was talking with someone who had one for a week and said he really enjoyed it.

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    Hondas do tend to have good sticks.  the last Fit had a good shifter.

     

    In my recent experience on a rather limited batch or segment of the automobile population, believe it or not, the Chevy Cruze 1.4 six speed manual is absolutely among the best and most pleasurable.  Short shifter, falls to hand, short throws, smooth but definite and an easy clutch.

     

    The Passat had definite snick snick slots.  Not buttery smooth, and makes some noise, but for the practice of shifting, is a good setup.

     

    The Fusion ecoboost manual is good.  Also the ST Focus and Fiesta are very good row your own cars, but maybe more appropriate once you get some practice.

     

    A cobalt?  NOT SO MUCH .......pile of garbage.  Who wants my car?

     

    Manuals would sooooo come back if they could put a simple function on the car.  The ability to flick a switch and go to fully automated and automatic.  Would take care of all those times when stuck in traffic.  Or the day off you just don't want to shift.

     

    Dual clutch is not the same.

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    I have a very good friend who is perhaps the best mechanic that I know...he cannot teach himself to drive stick. As for me, its all I own, I haven't even owned an automatic for ten years or so.

    Congrats on learning to drive stick.

    Oh, an yes, Honda builds a smoother shifting manual than Porsche.

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    Cool that you stuck with the manual and tamed it.

    First, I want to comment that your fear of breaking the vehicle is pretty unfounded.  Sure, stalling the car and revving up the engine will be very awkward, but won't break the car unless is was on the verge of breaking, anyway.  Worst thing a learner does is use a little extra clutch material.  If you burn out the clutch, you either needed a clutch or the teacher was as clueless as the student.

    Second, tachs are not needed for shifting, and IMHO should not be used for shifting, as it takes your eyes from the road.  Best case is that a tach provides some slightly interesting info about the engine... but you shouldn't look at it any more than the gas gauge.  The car I learned stick on and drove as a novice for a year did not come equipped with a tach.  The only "clue" to when to shift were some little marks on the speedo.  I didn't even tell the couple folks I taught stick to about the tach, but to just listen to the engine.

    Lastly, I find it easier to teach stick in a 25 year old 305 V8 than a new 4 cylinder with a light flywheel... torque and inertia really help out the novice shifter pick up the technique.  I suspect the TDI was a big help, and that the previous cars you tried to learn on where just too finicky.  Its not impossible to learn on finicky, but it steepens the learning curve.  The car I learned on had no power, a worn clutch and screwed up tranny that loved to pop out of 2nd and 3rd.  The second car I drove came with no instructions, diagram or specs... so I drove the "three" speed for a day before I "discovered" a second 1st and 2nd waaaayyyy over by where my leg likes to be and figured out it was a five speed I had been starting out in third gear... It was much quicker as a five speed.  LOL!

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    Great write-up, and congrats on your new skills.  For small, high revving engines, a stick is ideal for control and to keep the revs up.  I learned to drive stick on my first Integra that my dad drove home from the dealership.  The first night, he gave me a lesson at my high school parking lot, and then I was on my own.  Stalled it many times, and there were times I wish I got the automatic, but I'm certainly glad I have the skills now and have later owned another three vehicles with sticks.  That being said, I now prefer automatics because it's one less thing I have to deal with when driving (can't wait for autonomous vehicles!), especially in stop and go traffic.  I've driven a few BMWs with the DSG and found the transmission to be entirely unsatisfying.  It's better to go full automatic or full manual.

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    Hondas do tend to have good sticks.  the last Fit had a good shifter.

     

    In my recent experience on a rather limited batch or segment of the automobile population, believe it or not, the Chevy Cruze 1.4 six speed manual is absolutely among the best and most pleasurable.  Short shifter, falls to hand, short throws, smooth but definite and an easy clutch.

     

    The Passat had definite snick snick slots.  Not buttery smooth, and makes some noise, but for the practice of shifting, is a good setup.

     

     

    Yes, Cruze ECO indeed has a good shift action and so do Mazdas. I cannot say that about the ATS 2.0T or the Buick Regal GS.

     

    Passat has that typical Germanic notchiness with that whine when you push it in second and third gear. It is as if the transmission thinks I am good, but will not obey you completely.

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    Z-06, the ATS manual bits have all been reworked and by recent articles apparently are pretty good now.

    Your description of German notchiness is pretty close to what the current Passat has. I'd probably have a Passat by today if my Taurus X hadn't decided to bankrupt me lately and still threaten a complete tranny dump sometime soon.

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    Don't convert. R12 can be had cheap. It will never be as cold if you convert.

    Relatively cheap.  $35 ~ $60 a can, I've heard.  I was estimated that R12 would be almost impossible to get by now, as the stockpiles would be gone... but they aren't... in fact, we have a lot of R12 around.

    That said, you can't legally buy R12 or recharge R12 anymore in most places.  And ANY system that needs a charge needs a leak test first and likely needs a compressor (seems like these are always where the leaks are)... this will all be pretty expensive once its done... but I agree, the AC will work best.

    Or you can do the conversion yourself and get 80% of the cold at 25% the price.  The '91 Firebird was converted and actually worked VERY well until the orifice valve clogged due to The Black Death (R12 oil contamination in a R134a conversion).  Just be sure to properly flush the system and run a vacuum on it for a while.

     

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    Then either someone opened the system before you got the '81, they put leak stop in the system and it stopped the leak or they missed the leak.  Empty or low refrigerant means a leak... even if its a very small one.  You probably got off easy, and that's probably not going to happen too often, especially considering that all R12 cars are over 20 years old now.

    Also, IIRC, R12 is a bigger molecule than R134a, so a small leak would leak even less with R12 than R134a.

    $100 sounds like 2.5 lbs of R12 at $30/lb plus some labor... which tells me your system was nearly empty if not completely empty.

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    Then either someone opened the system before you got the '81, they put leak stop in the system and it stopped the leak or they missed the leak.  Empty or low refrigerant means a leak... even if its a very small one.  You probably got off easy, and that's probably not going to happen too often, especially considering that all R12 cars are over 20 years old now.

    Also, IIRC, R12 is a bigger molecule than R134a, so a small leak would leak even less with R12 than R134a.

    $100 sounds like 2.5 lbs of R12 at $30/lb plus some labor... which tells me your system was nearly empty if not completely empty.

     

     

    Didn't GM develop a drop-in replacement for R12 that didn't require a full conversion?  It was supposed to be fantastic stuff.... I need to look into that.

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      Inside, the Alltrack offers the same spacious 94.3 cubic feet of passenger volume as the SportWagen, as well as 30.4 cubic feet of cargo room behind the rear seats and 66.5 cubic feet with the rear seats folded. Headroom also remains the same at 38.6 inches, as does the front and rear shoulder room of 55.9 and 53.9 inches and front and rear legroom of 41.2 and 35.6 inches.
      Despite having the same measurements, there are some notable differences that make the Alltrack’s upscale cabin stand out. V-Tex leatherette seating surfaces—including a unique “Marrakesh” brown color option—are standard equipment across the line, along with heatable front seats. A 12-way power driver seat is standard on the SEL trim. The unique interior equipment of the Alltrack adds a black headliner, a 4Motion-branded chrome strip on the center console, stainless-steel door kickplates with the Alltrack logo, and custom aluminum-look pedals.
      In addition to the expansive interior space, driver controls are positioned to help optimize ergonomics and usability. The seat position, height of the shifter and the spacing between the pedals are fine-tuned for increased driver comfort. This driver-centric design focus is evident from the center stack, which is angled towards the driver, a feature frequently seen in premium luxury or performance vehicles. Ambient lighting further highlights this upscale character, as well as the use of premium materials throughout, such as the soft-touch plastics and leather-wrapped handbrake, shifter knob and multi-function steering wheel.
      An equal amount of attention has been paid to helping to optimize comfort and convenience throughout the lineup. The Alltrack comes equipped with a long list of modern comfort, convenience and entertainment features, including power windows, locks and mirrors, rearview camera, Bluetooth® technology and Volkswagen Car-Net® Security and Service. KESSY® keyless access with push-button start is standard equipment on SE and SEL trim levels, as is the Fender® Premium Audio System, while Climatronic® automatic dual-zone climate control is standard on SEL models. The Alltrack S is equipped with an eight-speaker audio system.
      As standard equipment across the Alltrack line, the MIB II infotainment system not only creates the foundation for the next generation of Volkswagen’s Car-Net connected vehicle services platform, but also offers one of the most comprehensive suites of connected vehicle services and features available in the automotive industry today. The Composition Media unit is standard in S and SE trims, while the Discover Media navigation unit is found in the SEL trim. Both MIB II units are anchored around a 6.5-inch, 800x480 capacitive color touchscreen display with proximity sensor.
      The Alltrack SEL also features the Discover Media unit, which upgrades the 6.5-inch touchscreen with 2.5D Navigation, one-shot voice destination entry, predicts possible destinations based on often used routes, and Destination Entry with Quick Search and Auto-complete, and Car-Net Guide & Inform.
      Compatible smartphone integration is a key part of this system, offering users the ability to run certain smartphone apps directly on the vehicle’s display through services like Apple CarPlay®, Android Auto™ and MirroLink®.  Alltrack’s infotainment system also offers AUX-in, SD card and USB multimedia interfaces with Apple iPhone® and iPod® compatibility, as well as a rearview camera display and Bluetooth technology with audio streaming for compatible phones. Other features include the ability to sync two phones simultaneously, along with a JPEG viewer, SiriusXM® Satellite Radio, HD Radio and support for lossless audio file format (Free Lossless Audio Codec FLAC).
      Security & Service
      With the Car-Net Security & Service suite, owners can access their VW remotely through vw.com/carnet as well as a smartphone app, providing access to the features available from virtually anywhere your mobile device is connected to wireless internet.
      Available security related features include Automatic Crash Notification, which can automatically notify an operator who can contact first responders in the event of an collision; Manual Emergency Call, a feature that allows for quick access to customer specialists at the touch of a button; Roadside Assistance, for added peace-of-mind in the event of trouble on the road; and Stolen Vehicle Location Assistance, which uses VW Car-Net Security & Service to assist law enforcement with locating your vehicle in the event that it is stolen.
      In addition, Volkswagen Car-Net Security & Service offers layers of convenience, such as remote vehicle access, remote door lock and unlock, remote honk and flash (of lights), last parked location information, and remote status check (doors and windows).
      The Car-Net Security & Service also offers Family Guardian, a suite of features that help families. Features including speed alert, which can notify the owner of the vehicle when the preset maximum speed limit is exceeded; and boundary alert, which can alert you if the vehicle has traveled outside of a pre-set virtual boundary.
      Diagnostics and maintenance information is also available through VW Car-Net. A Vehicle Health Report allows Volkswagen customers to check to see an overview of vehicle diagnostics. When it’s time for scheduled service, Car-Net Security & Service can not only alert the customer, but also provide a simple way to schedule a dealer visit. It can even identify the closest dealer in case you need a recommendation.
      Customers purchasing new Volkswagen models equipped with Volkswagen Car-Net Security & Service connected vehicle services (not including App-Connect) will receive a no-charge trial for six months after purchase. To extend the benefits of this connectivity system, customers can choose from a number of Volkswagen Car-Net payment options: 1 year, for $199; 2 years for $378; 3 years for $540; or, month-to-month, for $17.99.
      Guide & Inform. Car-Net Guide & Inform offers an enhanced navigation and infotainment experience for Volkswagen customers. Volkswagen has incorporated technologies that enhance existing navigation offerings while adding an additional level of information that empowers owners.
      Satellite navigation is refined with Car-Net Guide & Inform, which incorporates several layers of information right onto the screen. MIB II-equipped Volkswagen models with in-vehicle navigation systems feature real-time fuel prices, sports scores, movie information and weather data as part of the three month SiriusXM Travel Link trial. Volkswagen customers will also enjoy real-time traffic information and a complimentary three-month SiriusXM Traffic trial.
      Customers purchasing new Volkswagen models equipped with Volkswagen Car-Net connected vehicle services (not including App-Connect) will receive a no-charge trial for six months after purchase. To extend the benefits of this connectivity system, customers can choose from a number of Volkswagen Car-Net payment options: 1 year, for $199; 2 years for $378; 3 years for $540; or, month-to-month, for $17.99. App-Connect can be used free-of-charge and is not included as part of the subscription-based services. Car-Net Guide & Inform services are provided by SiriusXM, and following the three-month trial period of SiriusXM Travel Link and SiriusXM Traffic, customers can contact SiriusXM at www.siriusxm.com to learn how to initiate paid subscriptions to these services.
      Powertrain
      The Alltrack shares its 1.8-liter TSI engine with other members of the seventh-generation Golf lineup. This four-cylinder gasoline unit is a member of the latest EA888 engine family, utilizing turbocharged induction and direct fuel injection to help achieve excellent efficiency while still delivering impressive power. Output is rated at 170 horsepower at 4500 rpm and a stout 199 pound-feet of torque beginning at just 1600 rpm.
      Across all grades, Alltrack is launching with a six-speed DSG dual-clutch automatic transmission. A six-speed manual transmission will be available early in 2017 on the S and SE trimlines. Regardless of transmission, power is routed to all four wheels via the 4Motion all-wheel-drive system.
      Also unique to Alltrack is a large 14.5-gallon fuel tank, which offers a greater range for adventure than SportWagen’s 13.2-gallon tank. The EPA-estimated fuel economy is 30 mpg highway and 22 mpg city.
      4Motion all-wheel-drive system
      One of the Alltrack’s key features is the 4Motion permanent all-wheel-drive system. The latest-generation 4Motion system is activated before any wheelspin occurs, helping eliminate nearly all traction losses. The system achieves this by using an advanced control function based on specific driving conditions. When operating under a relatively low load or when coasting, the front wheels are driven and the rear wheels are decoupled, which can help save fuel. However, the rear wheels can be engaged in fractions of a second whenever necessary via the center differential, which is activated by an electro-hydraulic oil pump.
      A control unit continually calculates the ideal drive torque for the rear wheels and controls how much the multi-plate clutch should be closed by activating the oil pump. The oil pressure increases the contact pressure at the clutch plates in proportion to the torque desired at the rear axle. So, the amount of pressure applied to the clutch plates can be used to continuously vary the amount of torque going between the front and rear wheels, up to a maximum of 50 percent at the rear axle.
      In addition to the center differential that acts longitudinally, electronic differential locks (EDL) that are a function of the electronic stability control system act laterally. The system can briefly brake a wheel that is slipping, enabling uninterrupted and stable transfer of drive power to the wheel on the opposite side.
      Chassis
      As a member of the modern Golf lineup, Alltrack is built on the same MQB chassis architecture as the rest of the line. The unitary construction chassis has two solid-mounted subframes with bolt-on front fenders, and utilizes new technologies such as laser clamp welding, which produces “wobble seam” welds in a wave pattern to help maximize strength in a limited space, offering up to four times the strength of a traditional spot weld.
      The stamped steel body and chassis boasts a large percentage of high-strength, hot-formed steel. This technology, along with the use of newly developed ultra-high-strength steels, allows much of the chassis and body to be constructed from thinner and lighter parts without any loss in strength. Additionally, thanks to the use of selective thickness for parts, a single component can be tailor-rolled to have as many as 11 zones of varying thicknesses.
      Thanks to the extensive use of modern construction techniques and high- and ultra-high strength steels, Alltrack’s chassis manages to remain lightweight despite its upscale features and enhanced crash structure. Throughout the car, incredible attention to detail has optimized components—such as the seats, air conditioning system, and even the electrical architecture—to help save weight.
      The Alltrack has its own, unique suspension tuning, with a ride height that is raised by 0.6 inches. Up front, a strut layout uses coil springs, telescopic dampers, and an anti-roll bar, with a multilink arrangement with coil springs, telescopic dampers and anti-roll bar at the back.
      The Golf Alltrack’s braking system features 11.3-inch vented front discs and 10.7-inch solid rear discs with standard three-channel ABS with electronic brake pressure distribution. The rack-and-pinion steering features electric power assist and features a 13.6:1 ratio that allows for 2.76 turns from lock to lock and a vehicle turning circle of 35.8 feet.
      The Alltrack features a unique Driving Mode Selection that enables an Off Road Mode setting. This driving profile alters the ABS system and accelerator pedal character and activates the hill descent function, helping Alltrack deliver exceptional performance off the beaten path. The available Off-Road HMI that is part of the navigation system displays compass, steering angle, and altitude when driving off-road.
      Alltrack is also equipped with the XDS+® Cross Differential System—a feature originally developed for the performance-oriented GTI model. This technology acts somewhat like an electronic substitute for a traditional mechanical limited-slip differential, working by actively monitoring data from each wheel sensor. If the suspension becomes unloaded, the system automatically applies braking to the driven inside wheel as needed to help reduce understeer (the tendency for the front wheels to run wide). This not only helps stability, but can also help improve handling and cornering performance.
      Safety
      Like the rest of the Golf line, Alltrack provides an intelligent combination of both passive and active safety systems. The 2017 Alltrack has been given a 5-star overall safety rating from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA).
      A standard feature on all 2017 Alltrack models is the Automatic Post-Collision Braking System. This builds on the premise that a collision is rarely a single, instantaneous action, but rather a series of events that follow the initial impact—the most significant of which can cause additional collisions. The Automatic Post-Collision Braking System addresses this by applying the brakes when a primary collision is detected by the airbag sensors, thus helping to reduce residual kinetic energy and, in turn, the chance of additional damage.
      The Alltrack also includes Volkswagen’s Intelligent Crash Response System that shuts off the fuel pump, unlocks the doors, and switches on the hazard lights if the car is involved in certain types of collisions. All Alltrack models are equipped with standard Electronic Stability Control (ESC).
      Driver Assistance Systems
      The Alltrack S and SE are available with the Driver Assistance Package (MSRP $845) that adds Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC), Forward Collision Warning and Autonomous Emergency Braking (Front Assist), front and rear Park Distance Control (ParkPilot), and Parking Steering Assistant (Park Assist). The Alltrack SEL can be equipped with the Driver Assistance & Lighting Package ($1,995), which includes the above-listed systems and adds an auto-dimming rearview mirror, Lane Departure Warning system (Lane Assist), High Beam Control (Light Assist), and Bi-Xenon headlights with the Adaptive Front-lighting System (AFS).
      Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) uses forward facing radar to maintain a set speed while helping maintain a set distance to the vehicle in front. The driver sets the speed and the desired spacing via buttons on the multifunction steering wheel and can use the accelerator, brake pedal, or steering wheel to cancel or override the ACC function. All system messages appear in the central multifunction display.
      When the roadway ahead of the vehicle is empty, the system maintains the set speed. Alltrack models fitted with automatic transmissions and ACC can match the speed of a vehicle in front and come to a stop, as well as resume ACC control after the driver presses the accelerator pedal or the “resume” button on the steering wheel. On manual transmission Alltrack models, the ACC ceases to operate below 19 mph.
      Within physical system limits, Forward Collision Warning helps warn the driver of critical front-end collision situations, both acoustically and visually by a warning symbol in the instrument cluster, and, if necessary, Autonomous Emergency Braking is activated to slow the vehicle if the driver fails to brake. If the brake pedal is applied but the driver brakes too lightly, the brake pressure is increased by the system.
      If there is an indication that the vehicle is unintentionally straying from its lane, an available Lane Departure Warning system can actively countersteer to help keep the vehicle in the lane above 40 mph. The system’s camera can recognize visible lane markings (one side can suffice) and, using a special algorithm, calculates the risk of the car leaving the lane. If the driver takes their hands off the wheel for a defined period of time, or the vehicle crosses a lane marking without use of a turn signal, the system countersteers and later provides an audible warning and a visual signal in the instrument cluster, asking the driver to take over steering.
      The system works in the dark and/or in fog, but will not engage if it cannot properly detect lane markings. If the turn signal has been set before crossing a lane marking, the Lane Departure Warning system will not engage or give a warning. The driver can “override” the system at any time by applying minimal force, and is not relieved of responsibility to make conscious driving decisions.
      Park Distance Control uses ultrasonic sensors located in the front and rear bumpers to monitor a range of up to five feet in front or behind the vehicle. The system is activated when reverse gear is engaged or below a speed of 9 mph and helps provide guidance when parking or in tight situations. The system has audible and visual warnings when the car starts to approach parked cars or static objects from the front or rear.
      Park Assist can automatically steer the car into parallel and perpendicular parking spaces in reverse. After pressing the Park Assist button – once for parallel and twice for perpendicular – the driver only needs to activate the accelerator pedal and brake once a gear is selected.
      The driver can override or deactivate the steering assistance at any time by turning the steering wheel, disengaging reverse gear or pressing the button. Below 25 mph, the system can scan both the left-hand and right-hand sides of the road, for example in a one-way street, for any parking spaces as it drives past. By activating the turn signal, the driver stipulates which side of the road they wish to park on.
      Limited Warranty
      2017 Golf Alltrack models are offered with Volkswagen’s standard five-year/60,000-mile (whichever occurs first) powertrain limited warranty and three-year/36,000-mile (whichever occurs first) new vehicle limited warranty.
      Model Line-up
      Destination on all Golf Alltrack models is $820
      Alltrack S
      $25,850 with manual transmission (late availability)
      $26,950 with automatic transmission
      Alltrack SE
      $29,430 with manual transmission (late availability)
      $30,530 with automatic transmission
      Alltrack SEL
      $32,890 with automatic transmission
      Competitive Set
      Subaru Outback
      Subaru XV Crosstrek

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