Before SUV’s invaded our roads, we had crossovers, which were essentially high-riding wagons. Subaru originated the idea, and their Outback has pretty much had the game to itself, until now. The German manufacturer has decided to muscle in on the Outback’s patch with the Volkswagen Passat Alltrack.
And just like the Outback, the Volkswagen Passat Alltrack features all-wheel-drive, a boosted ride height and plastic panels around its lower regions to protect it when you head off road.
The Alltrack builds on the top-of-the-range Passat Highline, and the interior has a premium feel. It’s well decked out with partial leather interior trim, heated front seats, three-zone climate control and 8.0-inch infotainment colour touchscreen with sat nav, a 10GB music hard drive, Bluetooth and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone capability.
Although they have a flat profile, the seats are comfortable and supportive, and there is plenty of leg and headroom in both rows, even with the full-length panoramic roof. It also has loads of small and large storage options, including hooks to keep bags in place the boot area, which has a 12v power socket, is 639 litres with the rear seat in place and when folded can easily accommodate ski gear, a couple of surfboards or a bicycle. It even it even a chilled glovebox to keep food and drinks cool.
Pricewise the Volkswagen Passat Alltrack is $49,290 (+ORC’s), which is $7500 more than the range-topping diesel-powered Outback it rivals. The test car also wore metallic paint, ($700) and was fitted with the Luxury option pack one which includes full LED headlights, a panoramic sunroof, ambient interior lighting and automated parking assistance for $3000.
There’s only one driveline available. A 140kw/400Nm 2.0-litre turbo diesel four cylinder, coupled to a six-speed dual-clutch transmission. It’s no rocket ship, but has oodles of torque from 1750 to 3000rpm and is equally at home in the suburbs, lapping up freeway kilometres or playing on hilly gravel roads and sandy beach tracks. You won’t visit the diesel bowser often as its very economical and over a mix of city and country roads, freeways and a bit of light off-roading I averaged 6.9 L/100km.
The only blemish is the dual-clutch transmission which at times hesitates, making getaways a bit jerky and is more noticeable when the start/stop function is engaged.
Despite it being perched higher than regular Passat wagons, with softer and longer travelling suspension, the Alltrack’s car-like driving persona is simply better than most SUV’s, when it comes to on-road poise and cornering finesse. To me, it corners largely the same as a regular Passat wagon with good body control. The steering is nicely weighted with a pleasing fluidic movement, though it’s a tad light at the straight on position for my liking. The gentle ride does a good job of ironing out the bumps making it a comfortable place to be. Off-road it felt surefooted on both sand and gravel.
The Alltrack has an extensive list of safety systems such as nine airbags, front and rear parking sensors, reverse camera, rear traffic alert and adaptive cruise control that contains emergency city braking, lane departure assistance, and blind spot warnings.
A genuine alternative to an SUV, the Volkswagen Passat Alltrack has better on-road manners and is reassuring to drive off-road. It has a classy and spacious interior and an understated, refined exterior. It’s a versatile all-rounder that is very easy to live with.
For more info on the Volkswagen Passat Alltrack head to Volkswagen.