El­e­gant Pas­sat All­track im­pres­sive

Central Otago Mirror - - FEATURES -

The Go

Not ev­ery­one who needs four­wheel-drive and a bit of ex­tra ground clear­ance wants an SUV, hence half­way houses such as Subaru’s Out­back and Skoda’s ex­cel­lent Oc­tavia Scout. Now there’s a VWal­ter­na­tive, with the high-rid­ing Pas­sat All­track. This el­e­gant beast sits taller than the stan­dard wagon thanks to 30mm of ex­tra ground clear­ance, tak­ing the to­tal to 165mm, and the Haldex-based 4Mo­tion all-wheeldrive equip­ment plus re­lated guff such as hill de­scent con­trol adds 107kg of weight. The petrol tank is two litres smaller and the boot space drops 15 litres to 588 but the pow­er­plant is iden­ti­cal to its two-wheel-drive 125kW si­b­ling, the 2.0-litre 125kW/350Nm turbo diesel also fea­tur­ing Bluemo­tion tech like start-stop and brake en­ergy re­gen­er­a­tion. The ex­tra grip boosts tow rat­ing by 200kg, to 2000kg braked, and VW says changes to the bumpers im­prove ap­proach and de­par­ture an­gles, there is a solid steel un­der­body guard, and the off-road but­ton tunes the dy­namic and as­sis­tance sys­tems such as the elec­tronic diff locks, ac­cel­er­a­tor con­trol, sta­bil­ity con­trol and ABS for off-road go­ing. I sus­pect most buy­ers will be like me, us­ing the All­track as an any­roads car, not an off-roader. And they will be im­pressed. This engine is strong off the line, re­fined while cruis­ing, with enough pull dur­ing most real-world ap­pli­ca­tions to please. Ride is sup­ple and well con­trolled with body roll at a min­i­mum – one bonus of this cross­over for­mat be­ing that All­track han­dles more like a car than an SUV. Drinks more like a car, too – with claimed thirst at 5.8l/100km.

Show

This is an el­e­gant car, the ex­tra height trans­lat­ing to a solid de­meanour which in­spires con­fi­dence. The cabin boasts typ­i­cally VW de­sign re­straint and pleas­ant ma­te­ri­als ac­com­pa­nied by good er­gonomics and a gen­er­ous range of fea­tures. Along with 17-inch al­loy wheels and ex­tra chrome touches comes more prac­ti­cal stuff such as six airbags (two more for the rear seats cost $750), park dis­tance warn­ing front and rear, cli­mate-con­trol air con and a chilled glove­box along with sev­eral bits of clever-clogs tech as op­tions. This All­road can park it­self for ex­am­ple, check­ing the space is long enough, then steer­ing it­self in – the driver only manag­ing brakes and throt­tle. Weird the first time but ar­guably more re­li­able when that hard-won space is tight.

Com­pany spin

Volk­swa­gen NZ gen­eral man­ager Tom Rud­den­klau says, ‘‘The All­track is a per­fect re­flec­tion of what cus­tomers now want in that SUV and wagon cat­e­gory.” It’s an im­por­tant seg­ment, with 30 per cent of all ve­hi­cles sold in NZ be­ing SUVs. As a re­sult, “Since we launched All­track our Pas­sat wagon sales have dou­bled, de­mand has ex­ceeded fore­cast and we’re do­ing about 20 amonth with a back­log as we’re short of sup­ply; I reckon there’s ca­pac­ity to sell 200 or 300 per year,” par­tic­u­larly once the stan­dard Pas­sat 4Mo­tion wagon drops from the lineup and All­track re­places it. Pas­sat makes up five per cent of VW NZ sales with Golf still tak­ing the lion share, and SUVs mak­ing up around be­tween a quar­ter and a third of sales.

Bou­quet

Ex­tra ground clear­ance and grip with­out com­pro­mis­ing han­dling – or looks, in­deed the Pas­sat wagon suits the phys­i­cal pres­ence im­parted by the ex­tra height.

Brick­bat

You’ll pay a lot less for a sim­i­larly tal­ented Skoda Scout.

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