Volkswagen Passat Alltrack

    Rarely does the booking of a press car correspond with the week’s weather. Such is my luck – or the apparent lack of it, I’ve driven Morgan’s through thunderstorms, handed back a Mercedes Benz G-Wagen just hours before flash flooding (Its 700mm wading depth would’ve proved very handy) and spent many an hour driving a non-air-conditoned budget-buy in the heat of summer. Just for once, though, the stars aligned: the first falling of snow, albeit light, occurred right in the middle of my week with Volkswagen’s new Passat Estate Alltrack.

    If you’re like me - by which I mean you live out on the sticks and are thus prone to adverse weather and all it brings - but you don’t necessarily need an SUV or anything with tundra-plundering abilities or ride-height that requires the use of step ladder to gain access to the driver’s seat, then the Volkswagen Passat Estate Alltrack might very well be up your unpaved alley. It’s four wheel-drive, it’s got hill descent control, and it doesn’t make you look like you’ve joined the local branch of Mountain Rescue. It’ll tow a braked load of up to 2,200kg too.

    Distinguishable from its more business-like brethren by its raised ride-height, chunkier bumpers and underbody protection, flared (and plastic clad) wheel arches, discreet roof rails, and larger “Kalamata” alloy wheels, it is to-all-intents-and-purposes the automotive equivalent of  sensible shoes. With its 40:20:40 rear seats folded flat it boasts one of the biggest boots in its class – honestly you could sleep in it – or alternatively, with the backseat set upright it offers rear passenger sprawling space to spare (and still 650 litres of load-space). Practical doesn’t do it justice.

     There’s only one engine choice, and only one gearbox option. If you want an Alltrack – and it’ll be an estate, there’s no saloon - it comes with Volkswagen’s 187 bhp 1,968cc four-cylinder turbo-diesel coupled to their 7 speed dual clutch DSG gearbox. Said combination makes for smooth progress. And it rides nicely too, albeit in a comfort orientated, rather than anything remotely sporty, manner.

   If that last paragraph doesn’t exactly sound exciting that’s probably because the Passat doesn’t exactly feel exciting. It will cruise all-day-every-day without fuss, and you’ll arrive at your destination as unruffled as you were when you left. But if you prefer your journeys to be more engaging, the Alltrack’s light and uncommunicative steering, although precise and direct, plus the gearbox’s hesitancy and sometime reluctance to slip into lower ratios, might leave you wanting. The Alltrack’s abilities are better suited to those who prefer to be off the beaten track rather than to those who prefer to be on tracks of the racing kind.

    It even gets something called Travel Assist. Standard across the entire Passat range it makes the Passat the first VW than can drive at up to 130mph in a partially automated mode. Clever stuff! What’s perhaps not so clever is that Volkswagen don’t fit a spare wheel as standard. On a car so overtly styled for the great outdoors I know which “driver aid” I’d prefer.

    Fortunately there was no call for either spare wheel, or the dreaded inflation kit VW now fit in its place either. The four-wheel drive came in very handy though, it made light work of the snow and added an element of extra reassurance when I was required to trek to Carmarthenshire early one snowy Sunday Morning. And I thought Shropshire felt empty…

    If you like your cars relaxing and undemanding, you like the idea of a little added security promised by four-wheel-drive, and most of all you don’t want to follow the SUV crowd, the Passat Alltrack proves a very worthy ally, whatever the weather.



Volkswagen Passat Estate Alltrack 2.0 TDi

Engine: 1,968cc 4Cyl 16V turbo-diesel

Transmission: 7 speed dual–clutch Automatic with 4 Motion Four-wheel drive.

Power:  187 bhp @ 3,600 rpm

Torque: 295 lbft @ 1,900 – 3,300 rpm

0-62MPH: 8.0 Sec

Max Speed: 139 mph

CO2: 133 g/km (NDEC Derived)

MPG: 43.6 combined (WLTP)

Price: from £39,185 (as tested £45,895)


Many thanks to Volkswagen’s UK press office for the loan of their PASSAT



Liam Bird Liam Bird

I'm Liam Bird, a freelance Motoring Writer based in the South Shropshire Marches. I currently write car reviews and road tests for a number of regional lifestyle magazines and newspapers which are distributed throughout Cheshire, Herefordshire, Shropshire, Staffordshire, Worcestershire, most of Wales and beyond.

As a member of the Welsh Group of Motoring Writers I'm as happy behind the wheel of a super-mini as I am in the latest super-car. I have press accreditation with most of the major motor manufacturers, meaning that as well as always being on the look out for further commissions, I always have a number of cars arriving each month ready to review.

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