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

NZ Autocar - - New Arrival -

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,

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