A tough take on a lofty wagon combats the SUV herd mentality
VW’s Alltrack, a toughened-up Passat wagon, goes nose-tonose with the Subaru Outback and cousins from Skoda and Audi
SO you want to negotiate terrain more challenging than the driveway but can’t cop being seen in an SUV? Despair not. Volkswagen has toughened up its Passat wagon so that it goes nose-to-nose with the Subaru Outback as well as its cousins from Skoda and Audi. It’s called, with only slight hubris, the Alltrack.
At $47,790, the all-wheel-drive Alltrack is $1800 more than the front-drive Passat 125TDI. That’s $1000 over the diesel Outback Premium, but theVW brings a standard six-speed DSG to Subaru’s manual, its sole transmission choice.
Other standard kit includes chrome roof rails, leather trim, dual-zone climate control with rear vents, reach and rake adjustable leather-wrapped steering wheel with sound system and phone controls, Bluetooth phone and audio link, hard-drive equipped satnav and audio with USB input and powered tailgate. It rides on 17-inch alloys with self-sealing tyres and a space-saver spare.
Options include pearl-effect paint ($700), sunroof ($2000) and parking assistance system ($900). The two option packs look decent value. The $3300 driver assistance and visibility package adds intelligent bixenon lights, lane departure warning and blind spot warning. For $2800, the Sport package gets 18-inchers, multifunction leather steering wheel with gearshifter paddles, nappa full-grain leather trim and heavier rear window tint.
The adaptive cruise control, which includes the autobraking accident warning and avoidance system, is a $2000 option and the adaptive damper suspension option (with 17s or 18s) is $1650.
The Alltrack uses the 2.0-litre common-rail direct-injection turbo diesel four. It’s a proven unit with 125kW/350Nm and a thirst of 6.3L/100km— barely more than the 150kg lighter standard Passat.
Electric stability aids are disabled by a button’s push, while the off-road system also quickens the reaction time of the electronic differential locks to prevent wheelspin and automatically activates hill descent control to a higher engine speed and, if the manual shift mode is employed, the gear will be held and not over-ridden by the gearbox computer.
The 4Motion drivetrain feeds 10 per cent of power to the rear axle until the electro-hydraulic system sees a need for more.
The staid squared-off conservative look of the Passat wagon has been beefed up with wheel-arch trim and added bits on the front and rear bumpers.
More importantly, the Alltrack’s ground clearance has risen to 165mm. That’s down on the Outback’s 213mm. On the other hand, the VW’s boot capacity, 588 litres, is almost 100 greater than the Soob’s. It’s a clever and flexible space too, with luggage net and remote release for the seat backs.
Versatile: The Alltrack takes on the rigours of the roads, from fire trails to school runs
Tough: The Alltrack is a Passat with hiking boots and swagger