Frisky Dingo

Got a Crack At the New Golf Alltrack

18 posts in this topic

Frisky Dingo    633

Friends, if you don't like VW or German cars, turn away now, because these next few paragraphs are going to read like a circa-2008 preteen girl just met real life Edward from Twilight.

 

So with that disclosure out of the way, I'll throw a punch straight to the gut for those still with me. The Alltrack is the best new vehicle I've ever driven. Not the fastest. Not the most fun. Not the sexiest. Not the coolest. But all things considered, the all-around best. Some of you may remember I made a nearly-as-bold statement when I posted a review of the then-new '16 Malibu. This is finally the car that unseated it as being the most impressive out-of-the-box car for the everyman.

So what makes it so good? Glad you asked. 'Everything' is a word that comes to mind. Almost, at least. But let's start with the visuals. It is an aesthetically inoffensive, yet cohesive and clean design. It doesn't shout "look at me", or try to fool you into thinking it's more expensive than it is. Nor does it portend to be something it's not. Instead, it is what it is- a Golf Wagon with a slight raise in ride height, and some nice cosmetic touches to set it apart w/out being garish. It gets unique bumpers front and rear, unique alloys, black cladding on the lower panels and wheel surrounds, silver mirrors and trim, and GTI-like mesh grilles to complete the look. It's nice. Understated, but handsome.

The size is great. You notice the minor difference-  ~.9"-  in ride height pretty quickly. It looks just right. It's definitely not as tall as an Outback, it's would-be rival. It's not as big in any dimension, really, for better or worse. Say what you will about cladding- thanks Aztek- but I think it suits this car fine. In fact, I think it improves it. And even ignoring the looks, having that added protection against dings, chips, and scratches is great in my eyes.

Inside is business as usual. For the Golf family, that means a simple, clean design with fantastic ergonomics, fit and finish, and materials. The Alltrack does get it's own unique finish for the trim on the doors and center stack and console. It also offers a lovely Marrakesh Brown upholstery option that is specific to the Alltrack. Said upholstery is the trademark VW/Audi 'leatherette', and although noone is mistaking this for a Bentley, it's nice enough. As with the other Golfs, the guages, buttons, visibility, seats, adjustability, and general layout are sublime. It easily looks and feels considerably more expensive than it is. Pretty sure everyone here has read me rave about the optional Fender audio system.

But enough about those other things. The meat and potatoes of this thing is how it drives. And oh man, does it drive great. It's like a GTI and the aforementioned Outback had a love child. Only it got 80% of its genes from the GTI. And that 20% from the Subie is the good stuff- AWD, better clearance, etc- and not the bad stuff- unrefined feel, crappy CVT, poor driving dynamics. It's what the Crosstrek or the Outback could be. 

The steering closely mirrors the GTI's- light, precise, with pretty good feel. The handling is wonderfully neutral with none of the excessive roll or understeer you might expect. In fact, it's very hard to induce understeer. Aside from blunderous corner entries, this thing pretty much just sticks and goes where you tell it. In low speed, sharp corners, you can feel the AWD system doing its thing. It's not intrusive, but you can tell the only reason you were able to take that turn 10 MPH faster than you anticipated despite the modest rubber is because of some invisible workings. No matter. I expected the well-behaved, crisp manners that are baked into the Golf and its MQB platform, but I didn't expect to emulate an 'R' more than it does a standard SportWagen. The thing turns in with a quick deftness, takes a flat, balanced set and sticks with authority. Then claws out out and hustles forward with far more gusto than anything with only 170hp moving 3,400 lbs of weight ought to. I think they may be flubbing on that '170' number.

Then again, the DSG is no doubt a factor here, and may actually be this car's ace in the hole. Simply put, it's transformative. The tuning in full auto 'D' is better than it is in the GTI. It's smoother, quicker, and doesn't get confused. And in 'M' mode, it's shifts are every bit as crisp and quick as the GTI's. The DSG really illuminates this engine for the gem it is. Forget that crappy setups you've experienced in Fords and Hyundais. This a dual-clutch auto in all it's glory, cracking off lightning upshifts, smooth, crisp downshifts, and adding a true layer of added involvement a slushbox can't offer. All this while having a better ride than the GTI and a bigger boot.

Complaints? A few. I wish the upgraded lights were available at a lower trim level. Umm, maybe a few more or more vivid colors? Idk man, that's about all I got. The 2.0T would transcend this car into legendary status, but that's about it. As it stands, it is a truly brilliant car with a depth of talent precious few other cars could hope to match. It makes an Outback look and feel like a school bus in comparison. And it does so while offering I'd say 75-80% of the goodness the GTI offers. How anyone in their right minds would buy a run-of-the-mill CUV over this is mind-boggling.

I'm already formulating a plan on how I can incorporate one of these into the household. I could easily let my GTI go to have this as the new primary family car, and replace my wife's Rav in doing so. Rolling 2 cars into one would make it easy for me to justify finally getting a used 911 or Cayman or similar, as well.

If you are in the market for a vehicle for a vehicle even remotely similar to this, ie- a car with 4 doors and 4 wheels- go look at and drive one of these. This is VW at it's absolute strongest, am immensely capable great all-arounder that doesn't break the bank and is enjoyable to drive. It is much, much more than the sum of it's parts. Bravo, VW.

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frogger    115

Definitely interested in this car should I need a new vehicle in the next few years.  it only comes pretty much loaded here for 35k, but you can get a regular Sportwagen with 4motion as well to save up to 10 grand. 

 

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dfelt    1,861

Glad you liked it Frisky, I hope you can make it happen to have it in your garage.

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ykX    108

It does looks handsome and I love wagons and hatchbacks.

However, 170hp doesn't sound so sporty at all.  At least you can get Outback with a 6-cylinder with 256hp.  Also, 6.5in of ground clearance is nothing compared to the Outback's 8.5in.

I am sure it drives much much better then the Outback on the road due to a sportier suspension and I am sure DSG is miles better then the horrible CVT.  

But, also take into account that Alltrack is 10in shorter and has almost 20% less cargo space then Outback. 

I think each car has it own niche, but I would not say that one is better then the other.

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Frisky Dingo    633
39 minutes ago, ykX said:

It does looks handsome and I love wagons and hatchbacks.

However, 170hp doesn't sound so sporty at all.  At least you can get Outback with a 6-cylinder with 256hp.  Also, 6.5in of ground clearance is nothing compared to the Outback's 8.5in.

I am sure it drives much much better then the Outback on the road due to a sportier suspension and I am sure DSG is miles better then the horrible CVT.  

But, also take into account that Alltrack is 10in shorter and has almost 20% less cargo space then Outback. 

I think each car has it own niche, but I would not say that one is better then the other.

 

There is definitely room for both in the market place. People who but Outbacks aren't tackling the Rubicon. They're buying it as an alternative to the usual crossover options. Despite being smaller, the Alltrack shines in that light. 

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ykX    108
2 minutes ago, Frisky Dingo said:

 

There is definitely room for both in the market place. People who but Outbacks aren't tackling the Rubicon. They're buying it as an alternative to the usual crossover options. Despite being smaller, the Alltrack shines in that light. 

Not for Rubicon, but there is a reason why Subaru owns New Hampshire, Maine and Vermont.  I have seen people go through really deep snow, steep icy hills, and even reasonably hard off road trails.

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2 minutes ago, ykX said:

Not for Rubicon, but there is a reason why Subaru owns New Hampshire, Maine and Vermont.  I have seen people go through really deep snow, steep icy hills, and even reasonably hard off road trails.

Subaru ironically has picked up the amrket for cars bought by out of the mainstream people that VW once held...one of the real ironies of automotive history.

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ccap41    1,221

Great review, as always, Frisky!

My only "gripe" is the 170hp engine.. I REALLY FREAKING WISH they offered the GTI's 2.0T as an option.

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17 minutes ago, ccap41 said:

Great review, as always, Frisky!

My only "gripe" is the 170hp engine.. I REALLY FREAKING WISH they offered the GTI's 2.0T as an option.

Probably warranty with the AWD system would be their thinking....

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Frisky Dingo    633
12 minutes ago, A Horse With No Name said:

Probably warranty with the AWD system would be their thinking....

 

Shouldn't be a problem. The R is coping with far greater power levels.

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6 minutes ago, Frisky Dingo said:

 

Shouldn't be a problem. The R is coping with far greater power levels.

Did not realize it was the identical AWD hardware...interesting....

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Stew    350

I really love this thing and it is certainly on my list.  2.0T would be fantastic.  My big hiccup with the Outback is the CVT, no thanks. 

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ocnblu    772

This review prompted me to visit VW's site.  This is such a New England vehicle, I can see it making inroads up there.  Seems like a great vehicle for all 50 states.  LOVE the brown leatherette interior.  I would get one in dark blue with the brown leatherette.  I would need a tweed coat though, for driving.  And some sort of fox hunting cap for my head.

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16 minutes ago, ocnblu said:

This review prompted me to visit VW's site.  This is such a New England vehicle, I can see it making inroads up there.  Seems like a great vehicle for all 50 states.  LOVE the brown leatherette interior.  I would get one in dark blue with the brown leatherette.  I would need a tweed coat though, for driving.  And some sort of fox hunting cap for my head.

...   And a small dog and you would be all set... Elmer Fudd and his Vee Dubbb...!

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Stew    350
11 hours ago, A Horse With No Name said:

...   And a small dog and you would be all set... Elmer Fudd and his Vee Dubbb...!

I think I have all of the above.........

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After 3 weeks driving a Passat, this vehicle is now on my radar...may have to go take one for a test drive..seems like it would make a nice NE Ohio year round car...

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Frisky Dingo    633
On 2/18/2017 at 8:35 PM, Cubical-aka-Moltar said:

After 3 weeks driving a Passat, this vehicle is now on my radar...may have to go take one for a test drive..seems like it would make a nice NE Ohio year round car...

Oh, most definitely. They have some incentives on them finally, too.

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