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Volkswagen Passat Alltrack Wolfsburg Edition 2017 review

EXPERT RATING
8
Tim Robson road tests and reviews the new Volkswagen Passat Alltrack Wolfsburg limited edition with specs, fuel consumption and verdict at its Australian launch in Sydney.

Tim Robson road tests and reviews the new Volkswagen Passat Alltrack Wolfsburg limited edition with specs, fuel consumption and verdict at its Australian launch in Sydney.

Cars like Volkswagen's largely excellent Passat have come into being at the exact wrong moment in automotive history. The buying public has spoken, and if it doesn't have a raised seating position, big wheels and a wagon butt, it isn't flying off dealer floors.

Of course, the ubiquitous SUV shares pretty much every mechanical element with a more pedestrian sedan, so the two cars are closer in specification than you might think.

However, there is something in the Passat line that slots in between the SUV and the regular passenger car, and it's called the Alltrack. Somewhat unusually, VW has decided to make its SUV-like wagon more car-like with the addition of a limited edition run of special versions called the Wolfsburg.

Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?

The Alltrack Wolfsburg package will be limited to just 250 examples (at least initially), and it adds $4200 to the Passat Alltrack's price of $50,790, before on road costs.

On top of the Alltrack's pretty handy spec sheet, the $54,990 Wolfsburg adds interior and exterior tweaks that include Volkswagen's new 12.3-inch 'Active Info Display' dash, adaptive chassis technology and a hands-free powered tailgate that can also be operated via a proximity button on the key fob.

Top spec LED headlights and tail-lights have been added to the outside, while high-end black Nappa leather, black roof lining, new dashboard and door card trims and additional piano black interior details are also part of the package.

The diesel-only Alltrack comes stock with powered and heated front seats (with a massage function for the driver!), a leather steering wheel, Apple Play and Android Auto connectivity, LED daytime running lamps and interior lights, satellite navigation, 'Drive Mode Select' with an additional off-road mode, tri-zone climate control, a rear view camera, radar cruise control and auto emergency braking.

Is there anything interesting about its design?

The Alltrack takes the notion of a basic Passat wagon and adds a bit of rough 'n' tough garnish to give it a light dusting of off-road cred.

Different bumpers, new exhaust trims, black plastic wheel arch overfenders and door sills, roof rails and a set of unique colours sets the Alltrack apart from its regular wagon sibling, along with a 27.5mm increase in ride height for a total of 147mm ground clearance.

The five seat-only Passat is a very flexible device in wagon form.

Out of sight under car, there's also a lightweight composite material protection panel for the engine and gearbox.

New 19-inch rims are an inch bigger than those on the regular Alltrack, while 'Crimson Red' has been added to a colour range that includes 'Pure White' and 'Iridium Grey.'

How practical is the space inside?

VW continues to roll out its new 12.3-inch full colour Active Dash Display across the fleet, and it's a worthwhile addition to the Alltrack. The screen still features traditional dials, but the display can be configured to show as much, or as little extra info as you want or need.

For example, a large sat nav map can be shown in the centre, with a big digital speed readout and gear selection indicator on either side. Turn-by-turn info is also displayed right where you need it.

The only negative observation I can make is that the screen is mounted more vertically than a traditional array that slopes back from the top to face the driver better. It's not at all hard to read, but it takes a moment to adjust.

The five seat-only Passat is a very flexible device in wagon form. Its electric tailgate opens to reveal a cavernous load space; 639 litres behind the seats, to be exact, expanding to 1769 litres when the 60/40 split fold seats are flipped down.

Seating is generous and supportive in all positions, with loads of room throughout for five people.

Brownie points for the handy seat releases in the rear of the cargo area, too, along with hooks for shopping bag, retractable covers, load restraint points and a 12-volt socket.

A gently sloped roof does not compromise load space, and even the cargo blind can be adjusted in multiple ways to divide the load space.

Storage is sufficient in the cabin, and there's room for eight bottles in and around the car, including a pair of cupholders in the centre console and a pair (VW says three, but we say two) in the flip-down rear centre armrest.

The Passat misses out on a phone pocket under the centre console, although you should have a phone mount already. Right? There are vents in the rear, but oddly no power points.

Rear-seaters can also control the climate via temperature adjusters if they so desire, while the centre console bin is chillable. There's a pair of ISOFIX child seat mounts on the outside rear seats, too.

Seating is generous and supportive in all positions, with loads of room throughout for five people.

  • Volkswagen Passat Alltrack Wolfsburg Edition 2017 Volkswagen Passat Alltrack Wolfsburg Edition 2017
  • Volkswagen Passat Alltrack Wolfsburg Edition 2017 Volkswagen Passat Alltrack Wolfsburg Edition 2017
  • Volkswagen Passat Alltrack Wolfsburg Edition 2017 Volkswagen Passat Alltrack Wolfsburg Edition 2017
  • Volkswagen Passat Alltrack Wolfsburg Edition 2017 Volkswagen Passat Alltrack Wolfsburg Edition 2017
  • Volkswagen Passat Alltrack Wolfsburg Edition 2017 Volkswagen Passat Alltrack Wolfsburg Edition 2017

What are the key stats for the engine and transmission?

Just one engine and transmission combo is offered in the Alltrack range. VW's popular 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbocharged diesel engine is a strong performer, with specs of 140kW of power at 3500rpm and 400Nm of torque at 1750rpm.

A six-speed 'DSG' dual-clutch transmission can be used in normal or sport settings, as well as a manual mode via paddles behind the steering wheel.

In essence, the Passat Alltrack Wolfsburg drives very well.

The fifth-generation Haldex all-wheel drive system will, for 99 per cent of its life, operate in front-wheel drive mode, with the system sending power out only where and when it's required via electronically controlled diffs front and rear.

VW rates the Alltrack's towing spec at a maximum of 2200kg of braked trailer, which will cover mid-size caravans and camper trailers, or small to medium boats.

How much fuel does it consume?

Volkswagen claims a combined fuel economy figure of 5.4 litres per 100km on the combined fuel economy cycle.

Over 360km we recorded a fuel economy figure of 10.0L/100km via the dash.

Its 70-litre diesel tank gives the Alltrack a theoretical range of 1290km.

Its engine also uses an Adblue additive to lower emissions, which needs topping up every 15,000km. A 13-litre tank costs about $30 to replenish.

What's it like to drive?

In essence, the Passat Alltrack Wolfsburg drives very well, with well sorted suspension, an engine that is willing and quiet, and excellent steering.

It's an odd specification, though, to add 19-inch rims to a car that's ostensibly designed to tackle the occasional dirt or sand track. The Pirelli Cinturato tyres fitted to the Wolfsburg are quiet and grippy on road in wet and dry conditions, and handled light, low speed gravel just fine.

Exposing those lovely 19s to trail debris isn't a great idea. In fact, this inattentive tester managed to hole the sidewall of a tyre while cresting a gentle rise... which happened to be hiding a sizable rock.

The bump within the cabin was barely noticeable, but the tyre was damaged beyond repair.

Thankfully, VW equips the Alltrack with a proper full-size spare rim and identical tyre, as well as a comprehensive tool kit, so we were able to escape my carelessness with relative ease.

It underlined, though, the fact that even though it says Alltrack on the tin, heading off-road in any capacity requires a bit of planning and the right gear to get you there - and back.

It's a very quiet, incredibly sure-footed and amazingly flexible wagon with a hint of machismo about it.

Multiple drive modes do little to alter the fundamental character of the car, but allow for a bit of personalisation, especially using the individual mode.

Adding weight to the steering and sharpening engine response adds a bit of character, and the gearbox feels like a better match to the car in sport mode, but really, the Alltrack isn't meant to have its neck wrung around every corner.

Instead, it's a very quiet, incredibly sure-footed and amazingly flexible wagon with a hint of machismo about it. The 2.0-litre diesel engine is unruffled even under load, providing great flexibility across the torque and rev ranges.

The six-speed DSG is at odds with a transmission family that offers seven and eight gear versions, but the diesel is flexible enough to deal with the wider ratio spread, and the six-speeder is stronger to deal with the extra torque, too.

What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating?

The Passat scores a maximum of five ANCAP stars, and is very well equipped with nine airbags (front driver and passenger, drivers knee airbag, front and rear side airbags and front and rear curtain airbags), auto emergency braking (AEB) which operates at speeds of up to 65km/h, lane departure guidance, adaptive cruise control, side assist and rear traffic alert.

What does it cost to own? What warranty is offered?

VW offers a six-year or 90,000km capped price service plan for the diesel Passat, costing $3165 in total.

Its biggest service at four years costs $985, with neither brake fluid or pollen filters included in the plan.

It's covered by a three-year, unlimited kilometre warranty.

Pricing guides

$33,000
Based on 70 cars listed for sale in the last 6 months
Lowest Price
$17,989
Highest Price
$48,990

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
132 TSI 1.8L, PULP, 7 SP AUTO $24,000 – 27,990 2017 Volkswagen Passat 2017 132 TSI Pricing and Specs
132 TSI Comfortline 1.8L, PULP, 7 SP AUTO $17,989 – 34,999 2017 Volkswagen Passat 2017 132 TSI Comfortline Pricing and Specs
140 TDI Highline 2.0L, Diesel, 6 SP AUTO $30,990 – 34,990 2017 Volkswagen Passat 2017 140 TDI Highline Pricing and Specs
206TSI R-LINE 2.0L, PULP, 6 SP AUTO $30,990 – 48,990 2017 Volkswagen Passat 2017 206TSI R-LINE Pricing and Specs
EXPERT RATING
8
Tim Robson
Contributing Journalist

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