| Week at the Wheel | Volkswagen Passat Alltrack |
Model tested: Volkswagen Passat Alltrack 2.0 TDI BlueMotion Tech
Pricing: £31,030 (£34,865 as tested)
Engine: 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder diesel
Transmission: six-speed dual-clutch automatic, four-wheel drive
Body style: five-door estate
Rivals: Audi A4 allroad, Peugeot 508 RXH, Skoda Octavia Scout
CO2 emissions: 155g/km
Combined economy: 47.9mpg
Top speed: 131mph
0-62mph: 8.9 seconds
Power: 170hp at 4,200rpm
Torque: 350Nm at 1,750rpm
Inside & Out:
It's a tried and tested formula; a raised ride height (by 30mm in the Alltrack's case), some plastic body cladding and revised bumpers both for better off-road abilities and rugged looks. The result is handsome and interesting for sure, but like any other Passat Estate this isn't a Volkswagen that you look back at longingly.
There's even less changed inside, where the familiar cabin is only livened up by the occasional Alltrack badge and the single off-road button on the centre console. At least that means the seats, leather in our test car but Alcantara as standard, are comfortable and there's plenty of room. The boot remains a usefully shaped 603-litre space with the seats in place.
Ride & Handling:
From the driver's seat this Passat feels no different to any other, the extra 30mm in ride height barely noticeable. Even when rounding a corner at speed there's no extra roll to be found, and the Alltrack feels just like a car to drive - which is exactly the point of course.
The steering might not be full of information, but in a typically Volkswagen way it has a consistent weighting and while the brakes initially feel over-servoed you soon become used to them. The suspension, raised by around 25mm, is supple and comfortable over all but the roughest of surfaces, just like in any other Passat.
Engine & Transmission:
You can have four-wheel drive on other Volkswagen Passats, but the Alltrack is the only one with an off-road button (and 30mm of extra ride height). Normally the system sends nearly all of its power to the front axle and only pushes power rearwards when it detects slip. Press the button though and all sorts of wizardry happens, activating a hill descent control and altering the anti-lock brakes and differential locks. It's never going to be beat a Touareg on the really rough stuff, but in snowy or muddy conditions it'll fare far better than a front-wheel drive model.
But then, these cars will see those conditions only on the rarest of occasions, mostly spending their time delivering children to school and picking up the groceries from Waitrose. And around town the Alltrack is perfectly pleasant; the 170hp 2.0-litre diesel engine is well-known to many and remains refined and willing, even when lugging around the extra 100kg of the four-wheel drive system. Generally the DSG automatic gearbox is a good match, though the coasting function does mean that reapplication of the throttle, and acceleration, can sometime be less than seamless, as it clumsily reengages.
Equipment, Economy & Value for Money:
There's only a couple of Passat Alltracks available, both with the 2.0-litre TDI engine (though the other has only 140hp and a manual gearbox). The more powerful model comes with the DSG automatic only, and starts at £31,030. That's a lot of money for a Passat in anyone's books, but the Alltrack does come loaded with equipment as standard. Everything from dual-zone climate control, cruise control, satnav, USB and iPod connection and stainless steel pedals to four-wheel drive, electronic differential locks and under-body protection features. Residuals aren't expected to be especially great, but insurance is a reasonable group 21 while three years' servicing (or 30,000 miles) is a bargain £349 at the moment.