The Volkswagen Passat Alltrack proves you don’t need an SUV to get a healthy dose of practicality and off-road ability. It’s a roomy, well built estate car with a clever four-wheel-drive system that makes light work of muddy fields and towing heavy trailers.
Off-road biased estate cars such as the Alltrack are few and far between, but Audi’s latest A4 Allroad offers buyers an alternative to the Passat. Like all new A4s, it comes with sharp looks, a luxurious interior and, in the case of the Allroad, a new and improved quattro four-wheel-drive system. To help you choose the one for you, we pit the Alltrack and Allroad head to head.
Our Volkswagen Passat Alltrack deals page will get you the cheapest price on a new one or, if you can’t wait for the A4 Allroad’s launch date, check out the deals available on the standard Audi A4 Avant.
Volkswagen Passat Alltrack vs Audi A4 Allroad – styling
These cars will appeal to buyers because they aren’t as imposing as bulkier SUVs and, in the Passat Alltrack’s case, it shares the same sleek, understated looks as the standard Passat. That isn’t to say it’s identical – there are beefier bumpers along with rubber wheel arch protectors that, combined with chunky alloy wheels and raised ride height, hints at its off-road credentials.
The A4 Allroad is arguably the more handsome of the two – it gets the same rubber wheel arches and sideskirts as the Passat but, thanks to its angular headlights and redesigned front bumper, it has a more purposeful feel to it than the Passat. Compared to the regular A4, the Allroad features vertical bars in its grille to make sure you can’t mistake it for a conventional model.
Both VW and Audi have succeeded at giving their estate cars a more rugged look without taking away their understated nature. If style is a top priority, the A4 beats the Volkswagen – its clean lines and imposing front end make it feel a little more special than the Passat.
Volkswagen Passat Alltrack vs Audi A4 Allroad – interior
Stepping into the Passat, it becomes obvious that it’s the top-of-the-range model. The standard estate already boasts an impeccably made interior but, where there was once plastics, the Alltrack gets attractive metal-effect trim. It gets all the tech you’d expect including a 6.5-inch touchscreen infortainment system and climate control. Critics agree – the interior is one of the best in class and has the feel of a much pricier car.
The Allroad gets the same interior as the rest of the new A4 range which means it’ll be one of the best currently on the market – even by Audi’s high standards. The quality and feel to the interior trim is exceptional and the build quality shames some much more expensive cars. If you enjoy driving, the A4 comes ahead of the Passat – ergonomically, it’s the more driver-orientated car, while the seven-inch infotainment interface is also bigger than the Passat’s offering.
When it comes to space, however, the Volkswagen has the Audi trumped – it’s near the top of the class for both passenger and boot space. There’s enough space in the back for three adults to sit comfortably on a long journey, while the 639 litres of boot space is only 11 litres less than the conventional estate – impressive considering the four-wheel-drive system beneath it. The A4 gets 490 litres of boot space and there’s ample legroom for rear passengers, but it can’t beat the cavernous Volkswagen.
Volkswagen Passat Alltrack vs Audi A4 Allroad – driving
The Passat is almost 30mm taller than the standard car but, thanks to some suspension tweaks and four-wheel drive, it’s actually more planted on the tarmac than a two-wheel drive model. A higher driving position means it’s easier to drive in town thanks to the enhanced visibility. Although there’s a small amount of body lean, the four-wheel-drive system means there’ll always be a surplus of grip. For off-road jaunts, it’s worth plumping for the dynamic chassis control option – you’ll get added grip on slippery slopes and a special hill-descent control.
The A4 Allroad is the first Audi to benefit from the latest quattro “ultra” four-wheel-drive system. This means it gets a computer that can read conditions on the road ahead to make sure you get the optimum levels of grip. In normal conditions, 90 per cent of power is delivered to the front wheels, but the clever system will distribute power to the rear when necessary. Critics have noted that past Allroads suffered from an overly firm ride but, thanks to the addition of adaptive dampers, this shouldn’t be a problem for the new car.
Volkswagen Passat Alltrack vs Audi A4 Allroad – engines
The Passat is limited to a single engine – a 2.0-litre turbodiesel that produces 142hp or 187hp if you opt for the DSG automatic gearbox. The former may not sound that powerful, but its torquey nature means it’s perfectly capable in day-to-day use and won’t be phased by a heavy trailer. If you value economy, the best bet is the lower-powered manual version – it’ll return up to 57.7mpg which, although less impressive than a conventional Passat Estate, is still excellent for a four-wheel drive car.
Being a Volkswagen Group car means the Audi’s entry-level engine is identical to the 2.0-litre diesel in the Passat. Being the more driver-focused car, however, means there are some other options too. A 3.0-litre V6 diesel is available with two power outputs – 215hp or 268hp with the latter only available with an eight-speed automatic gearbox. While diesel is the most sensible option for most, there’s also a 2.0-litre petrol on offer, which might suit those covering low annual mileages. This turbocharged unit will get you from rest to 62mph in an impressive 6.1 seconds at the expense of fuel economy.
Volkswagen Passat Alltrack vs Audi A4 Allroad – value for money
A Passat Alltrack can be yours from £31,000 but opting for Volkswagen’s automatic gearbox will raise that to more than £34,000. Being the top-of-the-range model, there’s no trim levels to decipher, but it’s worth pricing up optional extras – the adaptive dampers will set you back a further £705, while you’ll pay an extra £500 for trailer assist.
Official prices for the new Allroad are yet to be confirmed, but we expect it to cost between £33,000 and £35,000 by the time it hits UK showrooms – making it a pricier proposition than the Volkswagen. While you’ll pay a similar amount extra for an automatic gearbox and the other options, it’s worth remembering that the quattro four-wheel-drive system is more sophisticated than the Volkswagen’s – making the Audi reasonably good value for money, too.
Volkswagen Passat Alltrack vs Audi A4 Allroad – verdict
These cars offer buyers similar levels of comfort, space and a fantastic four-wheel-drive system. Whichever you go for, you’ll be buying an excellent, capable estate that’s just as worthy of consideration as many similarly priced SUVs.
If your top priority is space, the Passat is the one to go for – it’s slightly cheaper, yet you’ll be getting a slightly roomier interior and a much bigger boot. If you’re after a slightly more upmarket car, the A4’s sharp looks and superior four-wheel-drive system could sway you – whether it’s worth the extra money is up to you.
Save money on your next car
Our Volkswagen Passat Alltrack deals page can help you save money. If you can’t wait for the A4 Allroad’s release later in 2016, find the best deals on the equally impressive Audi A4 Avant. Alternatively, if you’re after something else, our car chooser will find the best cars for you.