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Road Test: Volkswagen Passat Alltrack 2.0 TDI 190PS

It’s appealing, but the off-piste Passat isn’t short of equally tempting user-chooser options, explains Alex Grant.

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SECTOR: Upper Medium PRICE: £34,905 FUEL: 54.3mpg CO2: 137g/km

Of the ‘mainstream’ D-segment products (a term which is becoming increasingly blurred), Volkswagen has always managed to make the Passat feel a cut above; almost Audi-esque in its choice of materials and ageless design. That might go some way towards explaining why the Alltrack has been able to survive where its closest rivals have struggled.

The Alltrack is to the Passat as the Allroad Quattro is to the A4. It means four-wheel drive, raised suspension and protective cladding above and below to avoid scratched paintwork and snagged mechanical parts while driving off road. Ironically, it straddles the traditional D-segment, and the crossover class which traditional Passat customers are migrating into.

But this isn’t a styling pack. The four-wheel drive system automatically shifts power to the corner with the most grip, and comes paired with specific off-road modes for driving on loose surfaces. This adapts the behaviour of the DSG gearbox to keep it in lower gears, modifies the ABS and enables Hill Descent Control, stopping the car from rolling quickly down steep drops. With a towing capacity of 2.2 tonnes, and only 15mm less ground clearance, it can almost rival the Tiguan’s plus points.

The upside of the Passat being more road-focused, is that it doesn’t drive like a high-sided four-wheel drive car. It runs in two-wheel drive when road conditions permit, body roll is no more pronounced than the very controlled Passat Estate, and the four-wheel drive system shares a technology with the high-performance Golf R. Named XDS+, this gently brakes the inside wheel while cornering, enabling the Passat to hug the apex of a corner rather than pushing wide. It’s surprisingly agile for a large, heavy off-road estate.

Engine options are familiar too. There’s no 1.6-litre diesel here, and rightly so, but the range gets the big-volume 148bhp and 187bhp 2.0-litre diesels, the latter getting DSG as standard and feeling much more in line with the A4 Allroad. These are impeccably quiet engines, and effortlessly fuel-efficient too; there’s an obvious sacrifice over a two-wheel drive Passat Estate, but 50mpg is easily achievable. It’s a car you could buy for occasional low-grip use, without struggling the rest of the year.

You’d want for nothing if you did so. There’s no better cabin in a non-premium car – everything feels beautifully well-engineered, soft to the touch and accented in satin silver and the Alltrack’s spec is based on the regular Passat GT. This means business-essential equipment such as adaptive cruise control, three-zone climate control and a navigation system with Apple CarPlay among its standard features. Though it loses some boot space, it’s still a proper load-carrier rather than a lifestyle estate.

But you’d hope so. At just under £35,000, the Passat Alltrack is up against the premium brands – the A4 Allroad Quattro with the same engine is only £2,000 more expensive, the equivalent Volvo V60 Cross Country is cheaper, and Vauxhall is reviving the Insignia Country Tourer later this year. Volkswagen might be a cut above its traditional rivals, but with upmarket rivals and crossovers to fend off, it needs to be.

Verdict:

A great solution for drivers needing a great motorway car and load-hauler with light off-road ability, but there are plenty of alternatives at this price point.

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Alex Grant

Trained on Cardiff University’s renowned Postgraduate Diploma in Motor Magazine Journalism, Alex is an award-winning motoring journalist with ten years’ experience across B2B and consumer titles. A life-long car enthusiast with a fascination for new technology and future drivetrains, he joined Fleet World in April 2011, contributing across the magazine and website portfolio and editing the EV Fleet World Website.


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