What is it?
The eighth-generation Volkswagen Passat has been refreshed, four years after it was launched in 2015. And this particular version – the slightly higher-riding all-wheel-drive estate known as the Alltrack – first appeared with the Passat iteration that arrived before that, in 2010.
The Alltrack provides a useful mix of load-carrying and mild-off-road capability in a format popularized by Volvo’s Cross Country models and the Allroad estates of sister brand Audi.
The Passat refresh is relatively modest. Items now standard include particulate filters for all engines, LED lights front and rear and Travel Assist, which enables the car to drive at up to 130mph in part-automated mode. The adaptive cruise control now reads and acts on speed limit signs, and while this can be over-ridden with a switch or the accelerator pedal, it will return to the speed it sees on the next sign, limiting the usefulness of this essential tool for anyone who doesn’t cruise on the motorway at exactly 70mph.
More positively, the infotainment system can now screen Apple CarPlay or Android Auto without a cable, and potential Passat buyers must now navigate a modest orchard’s worth of eight model derivatives rather than the previous forest.
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.