Among the culled line-up is the Alltrack sampled here, its identifiers including the black plastic wheel arch extensions of an off-roader, more ruggedly sculpted bumpers, new 18in alloy rims, the option of a bucolic bottle green paint finish, assorted decor highlights in stainless steel, aluminium and chrome and Volkswagen's 'Discover' 8.0in touchscreen infotainment system.
More fundamentally, its 4Motion system provides an off-roading mode and the 187bhp 2.0-litre diesel that's your sole engine choice comes with a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox.
What's it like?
This is one of the more sophisticated-looking Passat wagons, and the optional green paint special to the Alltrack is a refreshing change from the endlessly silver cars we usually see. The dashboard still looks reasonably sophisticated four years in, but it’s a disappointment to find that the standard upholstery is cloth, especially when you discover that leather costs a stiff £1900.
It’s a roomy interior though, with generous room front and rear as well as a decently long and wide boot. That the boot floor is level with the sill is handy for heavy loading, but you lose plenty of height.
While you wouldn’t call it noisy, there’s no mistaking the 2.0 TDI engine for anything other than a diesel, betrayed by a persistent light clatter almost absent from the lesser 1.6 TDI unit. Still more intrusive is road noise, a dull roar intruding even over moderately coarse textures, making this car rather less restful than its size and standards of finish imply. Volkswagen should have mounted a silencing campaign during this refresh.
The Alltrack doesn’t ride especially well, either. It’s less good at dealing with small, knobbly bumps than its smaller but taller T-Cross brother and decidedly less soothing than a 1.0-litre Golf. All of which makes it hard to avoid thinking that, fine finish or not, you’re driving about in a corporate beast of burden, and a pricey one at that.
But you do get all-wheel drive, a slightly elevated ride height, some underbody protection, an off-road dynamic mode and hill descent control, all of which should keep this Passat going through slippery stuff and over lightly challenging off-road terrain. You’ll feel more secure on a rain-lashed winter motorways, too, with the top ratio of the 'box quelling the engine very effectively. If you’re determined enough with the throttle, use the Sport mode or the paddle-shifters, this commodious Volkswagen can get along pretty briskly when needed. It doesn’t especially encourage a full flexing of its muscles, but it delivers enough solid thrust for a life both on and off road.
Should I buy one?
At almost £40k, this Passat wagon needs more polish and panache, and while the exterior style promises it, the car fails to deliver the restful, finely furnished load-lugging you anticipate. The engine and tyres are too noisy, at this price you’d expect leather and its driving dynamics are nothing special. Among the small choice of high-riding, all-wheel-drive estates, you’d do well to check out the Volvo V60 Cross Country and Audi A4 Allroad. There are certainly Passat estates that make sense, but the Alltrack isn’t one of them.
Volkswagen Passat Alltrack 2.0 TDI 190 4Motion DSG specification
Where Oxfordshire On sale Now Price £39,185 Engine 4 cyls, 1969cc, turbocharged, diesel Power 187bhp at 4000rpm Torque 295lb ft at 1900-3300rpm Gearbox 7-spd dual-clutch automatic Kerb weight 1725kg Top speed 139mph 0-62mph 8.0sec Economy 43.6mpg (WLTP) CO2 133g/km Rivals Audi A4 Allroad, Volvo V60 Cross Country