Volkswagen Passat Alltrack

Can VW's Alltrack (horsebox optional) convince 4x4 neigh-sayers?

Price: From about £28,500. On sale July
Engine: 1,968cc, four cylinders, 16 valves, turbodiesel, 140/170bhp
Transmission: Six-speed gearbox, rear-wheel drive
Performance: 123/131mph, 0-62 in 10.9/8.9sec, 49.6/47.9mpg, CO2 150g/155g/km

It's all about All, as in "all-wheel drive" and therefore "able to go on all sorts of road". In essence the VW Passat Alltrack is a Passat estate with an extra 30mm of ride height, some visual toughening-up via plastic cladding for the wheel arches, sills and valances, and four-wheel drive.

But metal-look underbody protection panels front and rear, plus a proper steel sump guard, suggest the Alltrack is more than just a cosmetic 4x4. It's aimed at winter-sports fans, people who might tow a boat or a horsebox, and anyone who thinks four-wheel drive in an estate car could be a useful combination.

VW's particular take on four-wheel drive uses a multi-plate clutch to control the drive to the rear wheels. Automatic variation of the clutch's clamping force allows most of the engine's efforts to go to the front wheels in normal driving, saving fuel by avoiding losses soaked up by the rear wheels' drive system. When slippage is detected at the front wheels, the clutch progressively engages more firmly, ultimately locking it solid so the front and rear wheels theoretically share the driving effort equally. In practice, though, if the front wheels encounter sheet ice and the rears still have grip, all effort is effectively sent rearwards.

Engines for the UK are two 2.0-litre turbodiesels, one of 140bhp driving through a six-speed manual gearbox, the other a 170bhp version with a six-speed double-clutch transmission (DCT), both of them relaxed and refined. Add a smooth ride, precise handling, and – in the 170bhp version – a double-clutch gearbox which works just as these things should with seamless, instant shifts and a properly intuitive automatic mode, and the Alltrack feels remarkably like a regular Passat estate to drive, complete with annoying electric parking brake.

However, there's also the AWD (all-wheel drive) button. This activates a Hill Descent Control, which automatically applies the brakes as required when descending a gradient steeper than 10 per cent at a speed below 6mph. It also inhibits the DCT's upshifts, alters the settings of the anti-lock brakes, traction control and stability systems to suit loose or slippery surfaces, and generally keeps the Alltrack moving. I tried an emergency stop on snow, steering round an "obstacle" in the process, with a horsebox on the optional electrically retracting towbar. The Alltrack impressively stayed pointing in the right direction, as did the horsebox – the latter's composure helped by clever selective braking by the Alltrack's wheels designed to nudge the horsebox in the required direction.

The Audi A4 Allroad is an obvious rival to the new Volkswagen, but it's more expensive and ultimately no better given the Passat's interior is roomier and its quality at least as good. The Volvo XC70 is bigger but dated by comparison; that leaves the imminent, and costlier, Peugeot RXH which is based on a diesel-engined 508 SW but adds the 3008 Hybrid4's electric rear drive. On the basis of value for money, the Alltrack is the pick of this bunch. Lane Assist (which nudges the steering back on course), Side Scan Assist (which monitors blind spots), High Beam Assist (which theoretically does the headlamp dipping for you, although most such systems are hopeless), Park Assist and Automatic Distance Control (a radar cruise control) are all options.

Which all builds up to an honest, straightforward and effective car – the sort you would buy and keep for many years as a useful family companion.

Suggested Topics
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

SPONSORED FEATURES

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Guru Careers: Trainer / IT Trainer

    £30 to £32k : Guru Careers: We are seeking a Trainer / IT Trainer to join an a...

    Recruitment Genius: Fence Installer - Commercial

    £25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This privately owned Fencing Co...

    Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £22,000

    £17000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: If you answer yes, this company...

    Recruitment Genius: Project / Account Manager and IT Support

    £18000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This world leader in Online Pro...

    Day In a Page

    Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... for the fourth time

    Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... again

    I was once told that intelligence services declare their enemies dead to provoke them into popping up their heads and revealing their location, says Robert Fisk
    Margaret Attwood on climate change: 'Time is running out for our fragile, Goldilocks planet'

    Margaret Attwood on climate change

    The author looks back on what she wrote about oil in 2009, and reflects on how the conversation has changed in a mere six years
    New Dr Seuss manuscript discovered: What Pet Should I Get? goes on sale this week

    New Dr Seuss manuscript discovered

    What Pet Should I Get? goes on sale this week
    Oculus Rift and the lonely cartoon hedgehog who could become the first ever virtual reality movie star

    The cartoon hedgehog leading the way into a whole new reality

    Virtual reality is the 'next chapter' of entertainment. Tim Walker gives it a try
    Ants have unique ability to switch between individual and collective action, says study

    Secrets of ants' teamwork revealed

    The insects have an almost unique ability to switch between individual and collective action
    Donovan interview: The singer is releasing a greatest hits album to mark his 50th year in folk

    Donovan marks his 50th year in folk

    The singer tells Nick Duerden about receiving death threats, why the world is 'mentally ill', and how he can write a song about anything, from ecology to crumpets
    Let's Race simulator: Ultra-realistic technology recreates thrill of the Formula One circuit

    Simulator recreates thrill of F1 circuit

    Rory Buckeridge gets behind the wheel and explains how it works
    Twitter accused of 'Facebookisation' over plans to overhaul reverse-chronological timeline

    Twitter accused of 'Facebookisation'

    Facebook exasperates its users by deciding which posts they can and can’t see. So why has Twitter announced plans to do the same?
    Jane Birkin asks Hermès to rename bag - but what else could the fashion house call it?

    Jane Birkin asks Hermès to rename bag

    The star was shocked by a Peta investigation into the exotic skins trade
    10 best waterproof mascaras

    Whatever the weather: 10 best waterproof mascaras

    We found lash-enhancing beauties that won’t budge no matter what you throw at them
    Diego Costa biography: Chelsea striker's route to the top - from those who shared his journey

    Diego Costa: I go to war. You come with me...

    Chelsea's rampaging striker had to fight his way from a poor city in Brazil to life at the top of the Premier League. A new book speaks to those who shared his journey
    Ashes 2015: England show the mettle to strike back hard in third Test

    England show the mettle to strike back hard in third Test

    The biggest problem facing them in Birmingham was the recovery of the zeitgeist that drained so quickly under the weight of Australian runs at Lord's, says Kevin Garside
    Women's Open 2015: Charley Hull - 'I know I'm a good golfer but I'm also just a person'

    Charley Hull: 'I know I'm a good golfer but I'm also just a person'

    British teen keeps her feet on ground ahead of Women's Open
    Turkey's conflict with Kurdish guerrillas in Iraq can benefit Isis in Syria

    Turkey's conflict with Kurdish guerrillas in Iraq can benefit Isis in Syria

    Turkish President Erdogan could benefit politically from the targeting of the PKK, says Patrick Cockburn
    Yvette Cooper: Our choice is years of Tory rule under Jeremy Corbyn or a return to a Labour government

    Our choice is years of Tory rule under Corbyn or a return to a Labour government

    Yvette Cooper urged Labour members to 'get serious' about the next general election rather than become 'a protest movement'