Outback, providing generaly smoother progress,
While not everyone likes CVT, it works well in the particularly in town, where it has a better take-up
While there is a range of engines available for Alltrack in other markets, only one is offered here, a 2.0 TDI. The high-output, single-turbo 2.0-litre generates 140kW with 400Nm but it’s not streaming until 1950rpm but does hang around until 3000rpm. It’s Euro6 rated which means it has an SCR system to clean up the nasty spent diesel gases on their way out, the three litre AdBlue tank said to be good for 9000km. The TDI teams up with a six-speed twin-clutch, and the Alltrack has VW’s 4motion AWD system, using the Haldex coupling. A separate ECU monitors the traction demands and triggers a multi-plate clutch in the rear diff which, when it locks, attracts the drive torque for the rear wheels. Predominately though it operates in two-wheel drive, and as such, occasionally lets the front wheels slip, albeit briefly. The ESP system will use the brakes to stop individual wheels spinning, and there’s also torque vectoring, used to brake the inside wheels in a bend to keep the Alltrack on line.
The Alltrack follows the basic styling rules for crossover wagons with butch bumpers and scuff plates, and plastic cladding down along the sides and wheelarches. We reckon it could do with a bit more plastic to beef it up though. The ground clearance is increased by 27.5mm to 174mm in total (Outback 213mm). The underbody protection is now made of ‘extremely tough plastic’ and said to save 16kg. The wheels on the tester are optional 19s costing $2250, whereas 18s are standard. There maybe a higher sense of quality in the Alltrack, but the Outback interior satisfies at the price asked, especially considering it comes complete with more features than the VW. So how does it stack up against the Outback? We had the similarly priced 3.6R and so there are the obvious differences when comparing a petrol with a diesel. Its 3.6-litre flat six delivers 191kW with 350Nm of torque, and uses a CVT to send this to the permanent AWD system. This runs a nominal 60/40 front/rear torque split but can be varied if needed. It comfortably outperforms the Alltrack, and trumps it for powertrain refinement. The Alltrack’s diesel isn’t the best we have encountered from the brand. The torque takes its time, the engine needs 2000rpm before it feels right, while the power comes in from 3000rpm, but is done by 4000rpm. That the pesky transmission likes to set the revs to 1500rpm makes for a laggard delivery, and it fails to deliver on its 400Nm promise. Best to set it to Sport mode, where it does a better job of keeping it in the 2 to 4 zone, but we wish there was the option of the 162kW/350Nm 2.0 TSI in our market. Not helping is that the Alltrack is heavy too; at 1740kg it’s over 200kg more than a loaded R-Line wagon, and only 10kg lighter than the last model.
The six in the Outback is smoother, quieter and more powerful. It’s quicker to 100 and two seconds faster over the 80-120 time too. While not everyone likes CVT, it works well in the Outback, providing generally smoother progress, particularly in town, where it has a better take-up,