Volkswagen has revealed its replacement for the Passat Alltrack. The toughened version of the compact executive comes only in estate form with four-wheel drive and the best engines from the range, and this time it’s based on an all-new Passat that moved the game on significantly for the on-road-friendly saloon.
The old model won some niche support but what’s actually changed on this new model? We’ve been finding out.
Volkswagen Passat Alltrack old vs new – styling
The 2015 Passat Alltrack’s front end is still dominated by strong horizontal lines but, for the new model, the upper edge of the headlights and grille are more bluff and emphasise the car’s width and make it appear lower. Slimmer headlight units and a redesigned lower air intake complete the changes at the front.
A deeper feature line down the new Alltrack’s flank decreases the car’s apparently height and make the car look longer and lower. At the back, even less has changed with new brake light clusters and rectangular exhaust tips being the only real differences. As with the previous Alltrack, the new model gets a height boost from the raised, off-road friendly suspension.
Volkswagen Passat Alltrack old vs new – interior and boot space
Neither old or new Passats have especially stylish interiors – preferring to stick with a more muted design with, presumably, more universal appeal. After all, the executives that’ll buy this car don’t want a visual assault of colours and flashing lights after a long day at work. Despite this, the new Alltrack looks noticeably more upmarket inside than the outgoing model.
Air vents now run the full width of the dashboard and feature an analogue clock as in the new Passat, a newer, larger infotainment screen is available and a thinner steering wheel is fitted. The new Alltrack has the option of the digital instrument cluster, first seen on the Audi TT, which handles driver information along with displaying sat-nav instructions. As with all Passats, there’ll be plenty of space for passengers and luggage, and quality should be top-notch.
Volkswagen Passat Alltrack old vs new – driving and engines
A 27.5mm-increase in ride height combined with the four-wheel-drive system means the Passat Alltrack won’t run scared when faced with a muddy Welsh field – just don’t expect to do any rock crawling. The electronic differential lock and torque vectoring by braking are tuned specifically for off-road usage but also help keep the Passat going the way you’re pointing it when on-road.
148 and 217hp petrols are available but the lion’s share of sales are expected to come from one of the three turbodiesel options – all are 2.0-litre units in 148, 187 or 237hp flavours. Those torquey diesels will be perfect for towing and can haul up to 2,200kg up a 12 per cent gradient. More powerful engines get the well-praised DSG twin-clutch automatic gearbox as standard.
Volkswagen Passat Alltrack old vs new – equipment
The Passat Alltrack can be fitted with a range of fancy technologies to make it feel special inside. A digital instrument cluster handling driver information and mapping can be specified along with a variety of infotainment systems with differing levels of functionality and complexity. The top-end systems can be paired with your smartphone and use specialist apps to stream music or traffic updates.
Passengers in the back can be placated with a rear-seat entertainment system using tablet computers and you can ensure you’ve plenty of storage for all your family’s paraphernalia using the silver roof racks.
Volkswagen Passat Alltrack old vs new – safety
To make sure you’re safe both on- and off-road, the new Passat gets a suite of technologies to keep you on the straight and narrow. A head-up display helps you keep your eyes on the road while VW’s front assist ensures you’re not about to cross into the path of other vehicles. An automatic braking function avoids low-speed shunts and a traffic jam assist system crawls the car through slow traffic for you.
There’s a system to help you keep the car in line when towing a trailer and a cross-traffic alert that makes sure you’re not about to reverse into moving traffic. Of course, the new Passat also gets a stiff body shell and the full range of airbags and crumple zones should the worst happen.
Off the beaten Alltrack
If you live somewhere that occasionally demands some light off-roading, the Passat Alltrack could be perfect for you. It has the usual levels of Volkswagen quality and user-friendliness but has just enough off-road ability to keep you moving when the going gets rough.
That it’s also a regular Passat and so seats five adults and fits all their luggage is just icing on the cake. Its car-based origins also mean it’ll probably be more efficient than an equivalent SUV or proper off-roader.
It’ll hit UK roads in September and we’ll get more detailed information before that time. While you wait, why not take a look at our reviews of the cars the Passat Alltrack needs to beat – the Vauxhall Insignia Country Tourer and the Volvo V40 Cross Country.