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Volkswagen Passat Alltrack
PRICE £31,030 FUEL 47.9mpg CO2 155g/km
While most of the estate set is getting curvier, the venerable Passat has retained that same utilitarian boxiness through five generations. And it’s paid dividends, with over half of UK Passat buyers opting for the larger estate. Now Volkswagen is out to add another string to the station wagon’s bow, equipping the Passat with soft off-roading abilities in an Audi Allroad style.
This is no Land Rover Defender, but with the UK now getting a good sized dose of snowfall in the winter, and an equal if not even larger downpour during the summer, the mud-plugging Passat offers enough extra grip to keep the most determined company car driver moving. And it does so without losing any of that well-proven Passat utilitarianism.
Volkswagen has been typically understated with the Alltrack. Shod with large cross-spoked alloy wheels and wrapped in silver-embellished plastic protective cladding it looks purposeful rather than garish and the interior follows suit. The extra ride height is barely perceptible, and doesn’t seem to affect the car’s stability. All are plus points.
But it’s entering is a changing segment. The Passat Alltrack might once have gone up against the Saab 9-3X, but that’s no longer an issue. What it does face is the very rugged Subaru Outback and very clever Peugeot 508 RXH, a low-carbon diesel-electric hybrid with a similar upmarket chunkiness and a new-found Germanic quality for the French carmaker. That’s a tough, well-hyped, rival.
The frugality of Peugeot’s offering may have come in for a beating from the press, but the Passat is also noticeably less efficient than the standard estate – a result of inferior aerodynamics and extra weight – usually averaging just under 40mpg against the 508’s high 40s.
But it performs well off road. On a closed test track, the car carved its way through sloppy mud and rutted roads without flinching. The main handicap is a lack of ground clearance for the really bumpy bits - but that’s the point at which you’d probably consider a “proper” off-road vehicle anyway.
Either way, though, with the CC no longer wearing a Passat badge, the Alltrack becomes arguably the best looking Passat money can buy - a slightly more masculine version of a well-proven, very capable station wagon.
The Alltrack is a timely addition to the Volkswagen range, with Saab’s demise and recent spate of poor weather to put additional grip back in drivers’ minds. There’s enough grip and ground clearance here for site visits and weatherproof motoring, but factor in the additional running costs before speccing up from the standard estate.