The Passat is one of those cars that is often a default choice for both private and fleet buyers who want a no-nonsense family car offering plenty of space and refinement. But what about those who like the reassurance of all-wheel-drive for driving in trickier conditions?
Well this is the Alltrack. It comes with permanent four wheel drive, raised suspension and beefy body mouldings. Its trump card, however, is its price, which undercuts both the A4 Allroad and XC70 by over £5,000. Prices kick off at a reasonable £28,580 – but is it a credible rival?
The standard Passat estate could hardly be described as sharply styled, but it does ooze premium sophistication. The Alltrack builds on this with its new body mouldings and more butch bumpers, with matt chrome skid plates and mirror housings which would make anyone proud to park one on their driveway.
It’s the same story inside with a cabin which is simply laid out, thoughtfully designed if a little lacking in visual appeal. The controls are some of the best around, crafted from quality materials. The depth of quality is what really makes the Passat stand out thanks to great attention to detail and sophisticated choice of materials. It certainly feels like a premium product.
The Passat’s generous proportions mean that space inside is more than ample for five adults, and thanks to the increased ride height getting in is a little easier. The boot too is cavernous, and the rear seats fold flat with a simple tug of a lever conveniently situated in the boot.
For your money, you get plenty of kit, including front and rear parking sensors, auto lights and wipers, climate and cruise control, four electric windows, a tyre pressure monitoring system and a touchscreen navigation system with Bluetooth and USB connectivity.
My test car had some pricey options, adding up to a total of nearly £6,000 which included sumptuous Vienna ribbed leather seats with massage function, metallic paint, and an upgraded navigation system with 30 gb hard drive for storing music. Particularly impressive is the foolproof Automatic Distance Control (ADC), including Front Assist, radar sensor controlled distance monitoring system and City Emergency Braking System. Not forgetting Side Scan Lane Change Assist, which provides an added sense of safety on the road.
With a 138 bhp 2.0 diesel unit under the bonnet mated to a seriously smooth six speed manual gearbox, the AllTrack is gutsy and always eager to rev. Useful mid-range grunt contributes to the Passats unruffled, relaxed nature as does its impressive refinement.
Economy is rather good considering the Passat AllTrack’s size and weight – I saw around 45mpg over a mixture of driving conditions. Road tax is also reasonable in TDi guise emitting 150g/km of CO2 which will cost owners £135 per year (Band F)
The rest of the driving experience is equally laid back, with a superb ride that smothers everything in its path and decent body control in corners. It is just a shame more connection with the road couldn’t have been engineered in, which is mainly the result of the uncommunicative steering. Despite good levels of grip, the handling also lacks sparkle as there’s not enough poise or precision that keener drivers will crave.
The AllTrack comes with Volkswagen’s proven 4MOTION four wheel drive system with an off-road setting and hill descent function. When I tried the Alltrack on a couple of muddy tracks its coped admirably, although anything more challenging would have highlighted its limitations. However for most it will be perfectly suited to driving in snow and mildly muddy conditions, which is after all what it was designed to tackle.
Price as tested: £34,389
Personal lease price: from £350.52
Engine: 2.0 litre 16v 138 bhp – 0-62 mph: 10.3 secs – Maximum Speed: 123 mph –
Economy: 40.4 mpg (urban) –56.5 mpg (extra-urban), 49.6 mpg (combined) – Emissions: 150 g/km (Band F) – VED (12 months): £135
Dimensions: Length: 4771 mm – Width: 1820 mm – Height: 1550 mm – Wheelbase: 2710 mm
*data from VW UK