FIRST DRIVE

A tough take on a lofty wagon com­bats the SUV herd men­tal­ity

Herald Sun - Motoring - - News -

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.

VALUE

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.

TECH­NOL­OGY

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.

DE­SIGN

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

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