Wagon Vs. The Other Thing: As Volkswagen Prepares Next-generation Golf, Alltrack Consumes SportWagen

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems

If you missed last week’s Volkswagen Golf kerfuffle, here’s a recap: a VW employee at a first drive event let slip that the basic (read: non-GTI, non-R) Golf and its SportWagen counterpart won’t make it to the U.S. after the eighth-generation model appears this fall.

Fake news, said VW.

Well, potentially inaccurate news, really. The automaker explained that, while the next-gen GTI and Golf R are indeed greenlit for the U.S., “other Golf models are under consideration for the North American Region.” While Golf sales figures — which are falling, by the way — are readily available from VW, when contacted for a breakdown in SportWagen sales, a not unsurprising figure emerged.

After moving the SportWagen from the Jetta line to the Golf line for 2015, VV followed it up with the release of a slightly more butch, all-wheel drive variant for 2017: the Alltrack. Boasting body cladding and a 0.6-inch lift, the Allroad is a lightly crossoverized SportWagen, built to capitalize on the allure of all things utility and challenge the likes of Subaru’s wildly popular Crosstrek.

It can’t match the Subie’s 8.7 inches of ground clearance, but the Alltrack does look the part, and its German pedigree might just rub some upscale SUV abstainers/individualists the right way.

According to Mark Gillies, senior manager of product communications for Volkswagen of America, Alltrack sales amounted to 65.4 percent of the brand’s U.S. SportWagen volume last year. That’s nearly two-thirds of a total volume of 14,123 vehicles.

The Alltrack’s appearance led to a spike in overall SportWagen sales, with 2017’s SportWagen total of 26,700 vehicles representing a significant climb over 2016’s 15,559 sales, the previous year’s 16,680 sales (a combination of Golf SportWagens and leftover Jetta versions), and 2014’s 19,519.

Last year’s tally for the three-trim Sportwagen and Allroad represents a 47 percent climbdown from the year before. This year shows an even steeper drop, with the first four months of 2019 reflecting a 51 percent decline in SportWagen family sales (sadly, we don’t know this year’s sales breakdown between the two models.) Any observer would claim that, after initially boosting VW wagon sales, the Alltrack began gobbling up SportWagen buyers. Note that that two-model tally is less than that of the GTI.

Given the volume split, it wouldn’t be surprising to see the Alltrack, which starts at $26,895 before destination (versus the SportWagen S’ $21,895 MSRP and S 4Motion’s $24,395 entry price) continue on in the absence of a SportWagen. Still, for either model to have a future, VW needs to build them.

There’s no assurance from Volkswagen that either model will emerge from the next-generation Golf, due for a reveal this October. A report in Autocar suggested VW’s simplified Golf lineup would see all wagon variants scrapped. If that’s the case, then the SportWagen-themed conversations held within the TTAC chatroom were entirely pointless, though it is interesting to see what just a hint of crossover can do for a wagon — at the expense of its more traditional sibling.

[Images: Volkswagen]

Steph Willems
Steph Willems

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  • Bs3875 Bs3875 on May 06, 2019

    You called it an allroad two times in the article.

  • Steve203 Steve203 on May 06, 2019

    "The Alltrack’s appearance led to a spike in overall SportWagen sales, with 2017’s SportWagen total of 26,700 vehicles representing a significant climb over 2016’s 15,559 sales, " Not surprisingly, I have a theory about that: the buyback of 2.0L TDIs, primarily Jettas and Golfs, started in late 2016. I suspect the bump in all Golf and Jetta sales in 17 was heavily influenced by people buying replacements for their bought back TDIs. Once the several years worth of TDIs had been replaced, sales fell back to their pre-recall trendline. The correlation between appearance of the Alltrack and an increase in wagon sales is probably spurious. As for jacking a wagon up an inch and pasting on some plastic cladding juicing sales, what is the take rate on the Buick Regal TourX? Second, I doubt that, if Golf hatch and wagon, combined, do not generate enough sales to make it worthwhile to federalize the powertrain, 65% of the wagon's 14K/yr, alone, would be enough to make it worthwhile to federalize the non-GTI powertrain. Third: rumor mill reports VW is working on an SUV for the US that is smaller than the Tiguan, which would seem to make the Alltrack redundant.

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    • Palincss Palincss on May 07, 2019

      I have a 2017 Alltrack. VW's buyback of my 2014 TDI was indeed the event that precipitated the purchase, but it was the feature set and the way options were packaged that made me choose the Alltrack. To begin with, I wanted DSG and 4Motion, which eliminated the FWD GSW. Also, I wanted the better audio system, Park Pilot and the panoramic sunroof: in other words, the SE trim level w/Driver Assistance Package. The GSW 4Motion isn't available with the SE trim level, leaving the Alltrack as the only choice. Had the Golf R Variant been available, I would have bought that in a heartbeat.

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