The Alltrack represents an interesting move by the ‘do no wrong’ Volkswagen group. Essentially a Passat wagon with a lift kit, it is likely to give some stick to Subaru's Outback, not to mention Volvo's quieter achiever the XC70. All three are cast in the same mold.
Alltrack is priced from a very competitive $47,790 which includes an auto. Standard features include satnav, Bluetooth, media device interface, heated front seats, a rear view camera, front and rear parking sensors, fog lights, stainless steel door sill plates with the 'Alltrack' signature, comfort seats in Vienna leather, interior accents in Titanium silver (signature on ashtray cover), pedals in brushed stainless steel and dual zone climate control.
Other 'Alltrack' signatures are located at the front and rear of the vehicle and the instrument cluster greets the driver with the signature. 17 inch alloys are standard fitted with 225/50 rubber along with dual chromed tailpipes.
It's powered by VW's acclaimed 2.0-litre turbodiesel, hooked up to a six-speed dual clutch tranmission with power fed to all four wheels. The diesel is good for 125kW and 350 Nm or torque, the latter from a low 1750 revs. During normal operation only 10 per cent of torque is channelled to the rear wheels to save on fuel. It can tow an 1800kg load and has a full-sized steel spare. Fuel consumption from the 70-litre tank is rated at 6.3 litres/100km.
Alltrack comes with eight airbags, daytime running lights and electronic stability control as standard. Fatigue detection is also standard and detects waning driver concentration and warns the driver with an acoustic signal lasting five seconds; a visual message also appears in the instrument cluster recommending that the driver take a break from driving.
We clocked up more than 500km of country kilometres behind the wheel. It's an easy car to live with and easy to drive, with comfortable seats that is suitable to long distance travel. The optional lane departure warning system comes into its own on country roads, but seems a bit haphazard in its reaction (sometimes it works sometimes it doesn't). During our tenure the car returned 8.1 litres/100km, a far cry from the 6.3 quoted (or 5.7 for extra-urban) but with 1500km on the clock it is still a long way from returning its best figures.
The car stands 60mm higher and ground clearance is 165mm, more than the road going version but not nearly enough for anything serious. The engine however is protected by a solid engine underbody guard made of a steel plate. This protects the engine, gearbox, oil sump, exhaust system (front section) and various hoses from damage.
An 'off road' button accommodates the demands of dirt or other slippery surfaces, automatically activating hill descent control, raising gear shift points and deactivating the engine Stop/Start system. It also introduces a higher threshold for the anti-lock brakes and the electronic differential locks (EDS) react quicker to prevent wheel spin, in parallel with with the engine's torque control (ASR) which is also modified.
Likeable car. Looks great and attracts plenty of comment. Well priced and extremely well equipped, it includes a lot of technology for the ask and is likely to appeal to those who tow a boat and/or those who like to tread the path less beaten.
Volkswagen Passat Alltrack
Price: from $47,790
Warranty: 3 years/unlimited km
Resale: 50 per cent (Source: Glass's Guide)
Service interval: 15,000km/12 months
Safety rating: five star
Spare: space saver
Engine: 2.0-litre turbodiesel four-cylinder, 125kW/350Nm
Transmission: 6-speed twin-clutch automated manual; 4WD
Body: 4.9m (L); 1.8m (w); 1.6m (h)
Thirst: 6.31/100km, tank 70 litres; 166g/km CO2