Volkswagen has added another dimension to its Golf line-up, with the launch of the 4MOTION four-wheel drive versions.

The new models will appeal to those attracted to the benefits of 4×4 transmission, but not the greater height and bulk of an SUV – for example, those who tow or regularly need to traverse light off-road terrain such as fields or lakesides.

Unlike the front-wheel drive Golf, 4MOTION models use electronically controlled Haldex transmission, mounted on the rear axle, to split the drive between the front and rear wheels. Using a second generation Haldex system, the new transmission is faster acting, more sensitive, quieter and more compact than before.

In normal driving 90 per cent of the engine’s power is delivered to the front wheels, with 10 per cent going to the rear. This results in characteristics familiar to drivers of front-wheel drive vehicles, plus improved fuel efficiency compared with a permanent four-wheel drive system. As the system senses loss of traction, the Haldex transmission transmits power to the wheels with the most grip; as much as 100 per cent of the engine’s power can transfer to the rear wheels if necessary.

The Golf 4MOTION is available to order now, either as a 2.0-litre GT FSI 150 PS or 2.0-litre GT TDI 140 PS. Trim levels mirror those of the front-wheel drive GT FSI and GT TDI models, with standard equipment including 2Zone climate control; rain sensor and automatic dimming rear view mirror; 16″ alloy wheels; CD player; and ESP (Electronic Stabilisation Programme). Visual differences are subtle, with twin exhaust pipes and discreet ‘4MOTION’ chrome badges the only external cues.

Prices start at £18,950 for the GT FSI 4MOTION 150 PS three-door, rising to £19,780 for the GT TDI 4MOTION 140 PS five-door.