Volkswagen Passat Alltrack review
The Volkswagen Passat Alltrack offers genuinely improved off-road ability and a spacious cabin. It’ll be expensive next to other Passats, though, and you don’t get much choice
What's not so good
Find out more about the Volkswagen Passat Alltrack
Just as you might have a pair of comfy shoes for long walks, a lightweight pair for sports and a rugged set for muddy countryside strolls, there’s a VW Passat for different uses too. The Volkswagen Passat Alltrack is the pair of hiking boots, built for people who want to tow a trailer and leave the Tarmac once in a while.
Of course, there’s the business-like Passat Saloon and practical Estate model (both of which we’ve reviewed separately) if the Alltrack isn’t your bag. But if it is, then you’ll probably also have one eye on the Audi A4 Allroad and Volvo V60 Cross Country.
The Volkswagen Passat Alltrack can be singled out from the rest of the Passat Estate range by its chunkier appearance. That’s thanks to a higher ride height, unique off-road bumpers that are less likely to catch rocks, rugged wheel arch and sill extensions as well as more protection to stop the car’s underneath taking a battering.
On the inside, though, the Alltrack is much like other Passats, benefitting from the same recent updates. It still looks and feels reassuringly solid, both in its design and materials, but there are new trim finishes and fabrics, redesigned door cards and ambient lighting. It’s no Audi A4 Allroad inside, but it feels about on a par with the V60 Cross Country.
Also inside is the third generation of Volkswagen’s touchscreen infotainment, while the Alltrack also gets the latest version of VW’s digital dials. Exact specs haven’t been confirmed yet, but the dash screen is likely to come in 8-inch form as standard with a larger 9.2-inch screen as an option. However, they both come with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and they’re now constantly connected to online services, opening up a range of services on demand, including the ability to control some car functions via your smartphone.
The Alltrack’s front seats are very comfy for kicking back and wiling away the miles on a long drive. Space in the back is also extremely generous, and it’s a similar story in the Passat’s huge 650-litre boot, which easily beats that of the A4 and V60.
You need a car that’s capable off-road but don’t want an SUV? Step this way… the Passat Alltrack looks fantastic and is more than able to tow a horsebox at the gymkhana
Less generous is the Alltrack’s choice of engines – there’s just one. It is at least a good one: a 2.0-litre diesel with 190hp fitted a seven-speed automatic gearbox and all-wheel drive as standard. It’s strong, smooth and works well with VW’s automatic ’box, and is also capable of returning more than 40mpg if you drive carefully.
And it makes sense to, because driving the Alltrack quickly on country roads isn’t particularly fun. Its soft suspension and fairly slow steering make it better suited to wafting down the motorway in comfort and quiet, something made even more relaxing by VW’s optional Travel Assist that at a press of a button will accelerate, brake and steer to keep you in your lane up to 130mph.
Of course, its raised ride height and all-wheel-drive make it better than the average estate off-road, too, although serious mud-pluggers will prefer an SUV. The Alltrack is comfortable, quiet and spacious, but (until VW confirms UK prices) it’s also traditionally pricey as Passats go.
However, if you’re sick of SUVs and will make proper use of the Alltrack’s rugged looks, make sure you check out our deal pages for the best price.