In the last decade, the prevalence of SUVs and – latterly – crossovers on our roads has been hard to miss. But what if you want the practicality and sure-footedness of a 4x4, but are turned off by beefed-up pseudo-Land Rovers that dominate car parks and school runs across the country?
Well, you could check out a sensibly-proportioned four-wheel-drive estate. You’ll get the large boot, the ability to go off-road and the peace of mind that passersby aren’t going to mistake you for a footballer’s wife.
There are a plethora of options available, not least of which are the Skoda Octavia Scout and SEAT Leon X-Perience. But the cherry on top of the Volkswagen Group cake is the Volkswagen Golf Alltrack.
Scotsman Motors test drove the Alltrack last month, and we’re struggling to think of a more practical all-rounder.
The 605-litre boot – 1,620 litres with the seats down– will swallow up more than the vast majority of SUVs. In fact, with the seats up, the only SUV we can think of that beats it is the Land Rover Discovery Sport with 981 litres, but Land Rover measure storage capacity to the roofline, so a lot of that capacity will be in height – not a lot of use for the likes of the weekly shop.
Legroom for passengers – and, in fact, cabin space generally – is generous as well and the cabin feels solid and very well put together. There are no dodgy plastics in sight and the armchair-like seats make driving the Golf as comfortable an experience as you can find.
The suspension has been raised by 20mm to cope with rough terrain and, while the most extreme surface we encountered during our brief test was the M90 near Kinross, the springs soaked up the worst ruts, potholes and bumps with composure.
A wobbly, SUV-like ride this is not though. The suspension set-up is like a memory foam mattress – equal parts cushioned comfort and firm support.
This keeps it composed in the corners and the Alltrack handles almost as well as the Golf in conventional configuration.
The six-speed automatic DSG gearbox in our test car was married to a two-litre four-pot putting out 181bhp and it’s a match made in heaven. Nought to 60 comes in 7.6 seconds, so it’s game and the gear changes are slick when driven on auto. Start playing with the paddles to manually switch and you’ll experience just how quick VW’s dual-clutch system is (very).
There was no discernable turbo lag, and the satisfying thrum from the engine bay is a million miles away from the rattly diesel engines of old.
Volkswagen reckon the Alltrack will return 57mpg. Needless to say we didn’t get a matching average on our runs, but high 40s, and mid 50s are certainly achievable.
The only thing that lets the Golf Alltrack down in our book is the exterior styling, more specifically, the back end. Golfs have always had a boxiness about them – it’s part of what makes a Golf a Golf – but lined up next to a Focus estate, a 308 SW or even VW Group stablemate the SEAT Leon ST and estate versions of the Golf look positively frumpy.
We give it full marks pretty much everywhere else though so, frankly, who cares about the driver behind’s view.
In our youth, Scotsman Motors used to wonder why anyone would willingly buy an estate car. Enormous luggage-lugging capacity was simply no compensation for estates being perennially uncool.
When an estate is married to a four-wheel drive system and has all the power and practicality one could ever need, now we wonder why anyone would ever consider buying anything else.
Engine: 2.0-litre turbodiesel producing 181bhp, 280 lb/ft torque
Transmission: Six-speed dual-clutch automatic
Performance: top speed 136mph, 0-62mph in 7.8 seconds
Economy: 57 mpg