There’s a chill in the air and for many Australians that means packing away the surfing appliances and dusting-off the snow skis. And for those who drive, that also means the tyre chains.
Enter the Volkswagen Passat Allroad – Volkswagen’s high-riding version of the Passat wagon with 4MOTION all-wheel-drive. Like its cousin the Audi A4 Allroad and the Subaru Outback, these are the cars non-SUV drivers turn to when extra traction/versatility is needed. They’re also popular with rural buyers who frequent unsealed dirt roads.
And when it comes to high-tech European wagons, the name ‘Volkswagen’ always appears near the top of the list. The regular Passat wagon is a gem which is doing brisk business for Volkswagen in Australia, so it stands to reason the Alltrack version will also rank highly in this specialized segment of the market.
So with our parkas airing and ski edges being sharpened, let’s get ready for a bumper season on the slopes and enjoyable motoring to-and-from…
Volkswagen Passat Alltrack Overview
Volkswagen Group Australia offers the Passat Alltrack in one handily-equipped specification (leather interior and satellite navigation are both standard) powered by the 2.0-litre turbo-diesel, driving all four wheels via the six-speed DSG automatic transmission. Priced at $47,790, the Volkswagen Passat Alltrack is very sharply priced – just $1300 more than the standard Passat wagon 2.0TDI.
Volkswagen Passat Alltrack Engine
Volkswagen’s 2.0TDI turbo-diesel features across much of the German giant’s lineup. It’s a state-of-the-art European turbo-diesel – on of the best we reckon.
And Volkswagen has recently updated the 2.0TDI with more power and torque and reduced fuel consumption.
Now maximum power is 130kW (up by 5.0kW) and peak torque is 380Nm (up by 30Nm).
Compared to some non-European rivals, the 2.0TDI is ridiculously quiet and refined, even when cold.
Drive is to all four wheels via Volkswagen six-speed twin-clutch automatic transmission and the latest 4MOTION constant all-wheel-drive system. Having regard to its likely uses, Volkswagen equips the Passat Allroad with a sturdy steel underbody guard which provides protection for the engine, gearbox, sump and the front section of the exhaust system.
And with a handy 1800kgs towing capacity, the Volkswagen Passat Allroad - with maximum torque delivered between 1750rpm – 2500rpm - is nicely suited to that task as well.
Volkswagen Passat Alltrack The Interior
Right across the models and the brands within Volkswagen Group, interior design stands-out in a way some rival automotive designers are well-advised to copy. Because often class and prestige can be delivered with simplicity.
No fancy ‘Luna Park’ lights, graphics and blaring warning buzzers in the Passat – conventional gauges with the usual Volkswagen colours and crystal-clear graphics look just great and the precise lines of the beautifully-trimmed dashboard (introduced with the current generation Passat) are also testimony to the “sometimes in life the simple things are the best” philosophy. Ditto for the conservative looking Volkswagen three-spoke, leather-wrapped steering wheel with rake/reach adjustment which combines with plenty of adjustment for the beautiful ‘Vienna’ leather trimmed seat to provide comfort for all sizes of driver (note to ‘Snow Bunnies’ – Passat Alltrack’s front seats are heated).
Differentiation from the regular Passat wagon models comes in the form of ‘Titanium Silver’ trim highlights and the ‘Alltrack’ badge on the lower console.
Audio is an eight-speaker CD system with the usual connectivity and a 6.5-inch touchscreen which doubles as the satellite navigation and reversing camera display.
Rear seat space is typical for a mid-size wagon and out back cargo volume is 588-litres with the rear seat in-place or 1716-litres when the 60:40 split-fold rear seat is folded flat. Volkswagen says the Passat Alltrack offers the segment’s widest cargo space at 1014mm and with the back seat folded, long items up to 1841mm can be accommodated.
A handy feature are levers in the cargo area which can split-fold the rear seat flat without the need to open the side doors (very helpful when the snow is dumping and you just want to get things loaded quickly with minimum exposure to the outside conditions).
Volkswagen Passat Alltrack Exterior & Styling
Like its Audi cousin, the Volkswagen Passat Alltrack shows subtle styling changes reflecting its different lifestyle. Naturally the raised ride-height is obvious and so too are the steel underbody protection panels which wrap onto the lower parts of the front and rear end.
Also catching your eye is protection for the wheel arches and side sills.
Not so obvious (unless you’re a Volkswagen enthusiast) are the bumpers themselves which are actually larger than standard.
The Volkswagen Passat Alltrack rides on 17-inch alloy wheels with 225/50 R17 ‘mobility’ tyres – although we fancy the 18-inch alloys which are included in the optional ‘Sport Package’. Also on the options list are Bi-Xenon headlights and rear DRLs.
Volkswagen Passat Alltrack On The Road
No snow on the ground when we tested the Volkswagen Passat Alltrack and the closest we came to off-road was some roadworks on the road into the golf club. Oh, and talking of golf, the Passat Alltrack’s cargo area easily swallowed our clubs and other paraphernalia (there are some mid-size wagons which can’t).
So no snow, no dirt but boy did Melbourne hose down some rain during our week with the high-riding Passat. Perfect conditions to tackle our high-speed mountain roads test loop.
Fortunately, as well as the 4MOTION all-wheel-drive system, the Volkswagen Passat Alltrack possesses an electronic differential lock and extended differential lock plus anti-slip regulation as well as the usual stability and traction control.
So, just like its Audi cousin, it’s hard to fault the manners of the Passat Alltrack in corners of every shape, size and speed. This thing just takes things in its stride with precision, a surprisingly flat stance and great balance (naturally with all-wheel-drive understeer at the limit).
And, also just like the Audi, when you pitch the Passat Alltrack into a wet road hairpin at high speed and hammer the throttle you swear your backside can feel the 4MOTION system constantly swapping drive from individual wheels as you turn-in, take a set and then accelerate away.
Around town, once you’ve got that standing start turbo-lag dialed-in, the Passat Alltrack is a handy ally. Special praise for the quietness of the 2.0TDI and Volkswagen’s hallmark refinement – isolation from the deafening peak-hour traffic is always a good thing.
And in our tight CBD car park, the Volkswagen Passat Alltrack surprised with a relatively small 11.4-metre turning circle and of course the reversing camera made rearwards maneuvers easy.
Volkswagen Passat Alltrack Challenges
As usual there is some turbocharger lag from the 2.0TDI at the initial jump – as we’ve said before it’s a characteristic of turbo-diesels (the trade-off is excellent performance combined with impressive fuel consumption) and you soon become acclimatized.
We also chalked-up a minor points deduction for the Volkswagen Passat Alltrack’s exterior styling. Classy, conservative and typically Volkswagen no doubt, nevertheless we would have liked to see just a bit more flourish in the pencils of the styling team at Volkswagen’s head office in Wolfsburg.
Volkswagen Passat Alltrack Verdict
Regular Car Showroom readers will know we rate the Audi A4 Allroad very highly and so likewise we’re fans of the Volkswagen Passat Alltrack. There’s something about the combination of raised ride height, high-tech driveline and obvious German quality which says: “European smart”.
At home in Germany the Passat Allroad is the ideal vehicle for summer getaways and getting around when there’s ice on the road and the snow is falling. We know that for a fact having spent many winter days at Volkswagen’s head office in Wolfsburg.
But the Volkswagen Passat Alltrack isn’t just for snow skiing fans – it’s for families too.
And, as has been the Volkswagen way in recent years, the Passat Alltrack ticks the value boxes with that high-tech chassis and comprehensive standard kit delivered well under $50,000.
Volkswagen Passat Alltrack The Competition
If you’re considering these types of wagons, presumably you’ve ruled-out the SUV-type crossovers so it’s a small field offering all-wheel-drive models…well it would be a larger field if all-wheel-drive versions of other European wagons made it to Australia, but they don’t.
Passat Alltrack’s cousin the Audi A4 Allroad is a similarly slick, high-tech German wagon. Priced at $69,900, the A4 comes with the usual Audi extra luxury on the inside and is one of our favourite wagons.
Subaru Outback is also a CarShowroom Favourite and, priced at $40,990 (2.0D) or $46,990 (2.0D Premium), provides a great value-for-money.