Stick Shift: 2017 Volkswagen Golf TSI Alltrack

A car company like Volkswagen, one that’s funky and eccentric enough to dream up cars like the original Beetle, Rabbit or Avanti Cabriolet from the hit TV series 90210, has never harbored a deep preoccupation for coloring inside the lines. So it wasn’t entirely surprising when they took the beloved Golf and raised it almost an inch, installed the 4-motion all-wheel-drive system from the Golf R, fitted it with an extra off-road driving mode, bigger tires and some front underbody guards to keep the undercarriage safe while sliding around loose dirt trails. Just like that, the Alltrack was born.

For what basically looks like a lifted station wagon at certain angles, the new Alltrack will give you plenty of ground clearance and all-wheel-drive traction to get you to your favorite semi-remote fishing spots without breaking a sweat. The best part is, you don’t have to join the droves of crossover SUV owners either. This quirky alternative, like peculiar VW models of the past, packs plenty of personality and fun, all while remaining comfortable and price-practical.

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Image via VW.

Despite the Alltracks’ higher center of gravity, it stays fairly composed through the twists and turns. There’s a little body roll if you nose into a corner too fast, but for the most part, the MQB chassis hands us a rigid Golf that’s responsive to inputs, decently level under load, and offers good feedback to the driver. Steering heft and responsiveness are especially good in Sport mode, and the electrically assisted power steering unit delivers precise turn in and feedback. The suspension damping feels well tuned to any driving you’ll encounter as well.

The 2017 Golf Alltrack TSI may only have a 1.8L turbo four under the hood, but the engine is tuned to deliver torque early and respond to the “go pedal” with snap efficiency. It also makes a combined 25 mpg. It never felt winded or over-worked, even while climbing a hill or passing slower traffic at highway speeds. When you finally turn off the highway onto some dirt, engage the off-road driving mode to get adjusted ABS and throttle responses, hill-descent assist and more.

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Image via VW.

The Golf TSI Alltrack comes in several flavors, my SEL was the top-of-the-line offering. Lucky me! You’ll pay a little more, but for the extra dough you’ll get a beautiful panoramic sunroof, handsome 18” alloy wheels, navigation, full power front seats and lots of driver-aide technology to help keep you in the lane lines, prevent accidents and even assist with those tricky parallel parking moments.

The Golf TSI Alltrack has a tidy interior. In typical Volkswagen fashion, lines are clean, the cabin is clutter free, comfortable and fully functional. From the outside, it wears the wagon look effortlessly. The extra ride height, big wheels, stretched and rounded off rear, combined with the low profile roof rack, give the Alltrack lots of similar exterior swagger as the Audi A6 wagon, with a much better price tag.

The new 2017 Golf Alltrack TSI, like so many other VW creations, stands alone. Its not trying to compete with the bigger, more rugged Subaru Outback. It’s certainly not as posh and pricey as the Volvo V60 Cross Country. In an automotive market flooded with SUV’s, rugged wagons and crossovers, the Golf Alltrack hits a sweet spot, offering an alternative that’s more fun to drive than most of the competition, off-road capable enough for 99% of your needs, brimming with personality and just outside the mold enough to always keep things interesting.

 

Price as tested: $33,710.00

 

By: Brandon Randall

 

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