Volkswagen's family of Golfs gets a taller and more rugged sibling with the October arrival of the Golf Alltrack. The derivative is aimed at broadening the appeal of the Golf to buyers with active, outdoorsy lifestyles -- that is, Subaru people. VW hopes the Alltrack can carve out a niche within that niche with buyers looking for extra capability and upscale touches, plus the maneuverability and sportiness of a proper car. For a little extra enthusiast street cred, VW will offer a manual transmission in the Alltrack early next year.
As a Subaru challenger, the Alltrack is a "tweener," slotting between the Crosstrek and Outback in length and cargo space with pricing closer to the Outback, which VW says is the closer competitor. The Alltrack has an edge in driving dynamics, powertrain refinement, interior build quality and materials, including upscale touches such as standard leatherette seating.
But its limited additional road clearance, just 1.4 inches more than a standard Golf SportWagen, is virtually undetectable to the naked eye. That could steer shoppers toward the Subaru for its higher ride height, a key perceived value driving the crossover craze.
"When you have a product that's a compact size but not a compact price, that will be perceived by many American consumers as a competitive disadvantage," AutoPacific analyst Ed Kim said. "It will take a unique customer to say, "This is a smaller product than the competing Subaru, but I like the driving finesse of the VW.'"