Echoing the design path of the Volvo XC70, Subaru Outback and Skoda Octavia Scout, the world number two manufacturer launches its Volkswagen Passat Alltrack mid-2012 as a versatile wagon that's also a competent soft-roader.
VW says Alltrack is aimed at broadening the customer base of the popular Passat wagon. It's built on the all-wheel drive platform which gives it flexibility in varying road conditions.
A VW spokesman said "There's no doubt there's a market for this type of vehicle. Volkswagen sees buyer interest there and just wants a bit of the action." For us, offering it with a diesel engine and DSG auto transmission gives it an edge that some rivals can't match."
Alltrack made its international debut at the recent Tokyo motor show. It is based on the same AWD platform as the existing Passat 4Motion V6-engined wagon.
That includes the latest Haldex AWD system now used in the Volkswagen Tiguan SUV. The Passat 4Motion is designed for on-road applications with its drive system the best way of putting 220kW to the ground.
In the Alltrack, the focus is on all-road applications. It is expected that the Alltrack will use a 2.0-litre, 125kW turbo-diesel engine. Pricing will be unveiled closer to the launch date but it will be cheaper than the $57,990 of the Passat 4Motion wagon and more than the existing front-drive $45,990 2.0-litre diesel version.
Volkswagen may be keen to match it up against the Subaru Outback diesel (from $40,990 as a manual only) and its own Skoda Octavia Scout diesel auto that costs from $39,990. The Volvo XC70 diesel auto is from $63,450.