£36,590 Price range
The Volkswagen Passat Alltrack is a four-wheel-drive version of the normal Passat Estate that’s designed to handle light off-roading. It’s a rival to the Skoda Octavia Scout, the Peugeot 508 RXH and the Volvo V70.
It has all the practicality of the Passat Estate, with a huge boot space and lots of room for front and rear passengers, but it sits one inch taller, giving a better view of the road ahead and also more ground clearance for off-road excursions. It also has black plastic trims around the wheel arches and front and rear bumpers to help it shrug off any scratches it gets off-road.
Inside it’s very similar to the Passat, which means you get a beautifully made, high-quality cabin. To differentiate it from the normal Passat the Alltrack gets stainless steel plates at the bottom of the door openings, and different stitching on the seats.
In terms of driving, it feels very similar to the regular Passat Estate, but the extra inch of suspension travel that helps the Alltrack cope off-road does mean the car leans more in fast corners. It does give the car an even less bumpy ride than the normal Passat, however, making it an incredibly comfortable car for driving on motorways and broken country roads.
There’s a simple choice of two engines for the Passat Estate Alltrack: a 2.0-litre diesel with 148hp and a manual gearbox, and the same 2.0-litre diesel with 187hp and a DSG automatic gearbox. The 148hp unit is the most fuel-efficient of the pair, and is claimed to return 57.7mpg.
The Alltrack is well equipped, and comes with four-wheel drive, sat-nav, climate control, LED headlights and adaptive cruise control as standard. You also get rugged plastic trims under the front of the car to help prevent damage during off-road driving.
Read on to see if this lofty version of the Passat suffers for being a bit better off-road – perhaps it could just be the best all-round version for UK buyers.
The Passat Alltrack is the top-spec version of the Passat, so it comes with a 6.5-inch touchscreen to control the sat-nav and DAB digital radio, as well as any music you want to stream from mobile devices using the standard Bluetooth connection. A bonus is that you can pair two mobile devices through Bluetooth at once, so arguments over whose music choice is best should be short-lived.
You can tell the Alltrack’s interior apart from the standard Passat Alltrack’s by way of some silver trims on the dashboard, brushed stainless steel pedals and cloth seats with Alltrack logos on them. It’s an impressively well-built cabin – one tester said that “its interior shames that of many higher-priced alternatives”
Passat Alltrack passenger space
Like the normal Passat Estate, occupants are treated to class-leading levels of legroom. This is one of those rare cars that will let three adults sit side-by-side in the back for long distances without discomfort.
Passat Alltrack boot space
Again, the Alltrack’s a winner here – the boot space is gargantuan. There’s 639 litres of space (that’s 11 litres less than the normal Passat Estate thanks to the 4×4 system under the floor of the car), and if you fold the rear seats down into the floor of the car you’re left with 1,769 litres. If you want more space then you’d have to consider the king of the car boot space world – the Skoda Superb Estate.
The good news here is that by jacking up the suspension 27mm to give the Alltrack some off-road ability, Volkswagen hasn’t ruined the car’s on-road manners.
That extra height gives the driver a better view of the road ahead than in the slightly lower standard Passat, and it feels very similar to that car when you’re driving. It’s as easy to drive around town as it is out of it, and the four-wheel-drive system gives you lots of grip.
The Alltrack leans a bit more than the standard Passat as you go around corners quickly, but critics say that the body lean happens gradually – you won’t suddenly find yourself sliding sideways out of your seat like in some taller 4x4s, which lean a lot more.
There’s a button on the Alltrack’s dashboard to switch between Eco, Normal and Sport driving modes – these alter the weight of the steering and sensitivity of the throttle to suit your mood. If you pay £705 extra for Volkswagen’s Dynamic Chassis Control system you’ll get an ‘off road’ mode too, which sets up the car’s traction control for off-roading, initiates a hill descent system (so you can cruise slowly down slopes without having to brake), and changes the DSG gearbox’s settings to suit slippery conditions.
The Passat Alltrack is available with either a 2.0-litre diesel engine with 148hp and a manual gearbox, or a similar 2.0-litre diesel engine with 187hp and an automatic gearbox. Both get VW’s ‘4Motion’ four-wheel-drive system as standard, to give the car some off-roading ability to back up its rugged looks.
The 148hp version has fuel economy of 57.6mpg and emits 130g/km of CO2, and the more powerful version emits 137g/km while returning 54.3mpg.
In terms of speed, the 148hp engine has a 0-60mph time of 9.2 seconds and a top speed of 127mph, whereas the more powerful engine and DSG gearbox help the 187hp version get to 60mph from a standstill in 8.0 seconds and on to a top speed of 136mph.
Passat Alltrack towing weight and trailer assist
The Passat Alltrack’s 4×4 system makes it an ideal car for towing and getting trailers and caravans out of wet grassy fields.
Both the 148hp and 187hp versions have a maximum braked towing weight of 2,200kg, or 750kg unbraked. If you’re likely to tow trailers or caravans regularly then you can pay £470 extra to spec your Alltrack with trailer assist, which will automatically steer the car in reverse to smoothly guide the car and its trailer into parking spaces. You just use the door-mirror adjustment dial to tell the car which way you’d like to reverse and it’ll do the steering for you.
The regular Passat was awarded the full five-stars by Euro NCAP when it was crash-tested in 2014.
The Alltrack comes with heaps of safety technology, including optional predictive pedestrian protection (which gives a gentle jolt of the brakes if it detects a person is about to step into the road in your path), traffic jam assist (which maintains a constant distant from the vehicle in front without you having to brake or accelerate), and a 360-degree camera to help you park safely in crowded spaces.
The Passat Alltrack is the top-of-the-range version of the Passat Estate, so it gets sat-nav, cruise control, climate control, front and rear parking sensors, heated front seats and plenty more kit as standard.
There are lots of options that you can tick though, which can push the price up significantly. The driver’s assistance pack, for example, includes lane assist, high beam assist (which automatically dips your headlights to avoid dazzling oncoming cars), and predictive pedestrian protection. It’ll also alert you if a car is in your blind spot. This pack adds £1,100 to the car’s list price.
You can also upgrade the car’s 6.5-inch touchscreen to an 8-inch version that you can control using your voice, and which can mirror your smartphone’s screen so you can use selected mobile apps on the move. This extra costs £815 for the Alltrack.
The Passat Alltrack is a premium family estate car that can do almost anything you ask of it. It won’t set the world alight in terms of driving fun, but that’s hardly the point of a car like this – it’ll transport you and your family in comfort and safety, and will let you tackle slippery fields, gravel tracks and relatively steep inclines without the need for any off-road driving experience.
The downsides? Well, it’s not cheap at £36,590, but if you want a four-wheel-drive Passat it’s the only choice without going for the much thirstier, more powerful 237 bi-turbo diesel version, which doesn’t have the raised ride height of off-road looks of the Alltrack.