The second generation Passat Alltrack is a competent and likeable family car that’s as at home in an urban environment as it is out on the open road.
Like the latest Passat Estate, the Alltrack is eminently practical and very roomy. There’s plenty of accommodation both front and rear as well as a generous 639 litres of luggage space underneath the cargo blind.
The Alltrack also offers a level of finish within its interior that shames that of many higher-priced alternatives. Helping to differentiate its cabin from that of its sibling are standard stainless steel sill plates and uniquely upholstered seats.
The added ride height provides the driver with a more commanding view of the road, while the four-wheel drive system delivers impressive traction, yet in everyday driving its dynamic abilities and overall comfort are virtually indistinguishable from those of the excellent Passat Estate 4Motion, making the Alltrack ideally suited to those who spend most of their time on road but seek a car capable of handling mild off-road excursions.
The 148bhp version of VW’s 2.0 TDI engine is perfectly suited to the Alltrack, providing it with a flexible delivery and strong character well into the mid-range, along with a good combination of performance and economy. Official claims are for a 0-62mph time of 9.2sec and a 127mph top speed for the latter transmission, with combined economy of 57.7mpg and average CO2 emissions of 130g/km.
The Alltrack comes with Eco, Normal, Sport and Individual driving modes, the last of which allows the driver to tailor the characteristics of the steering, throttle and gearbox to their liking, while an optional adaptive chassis control system brings with it a fifth driving mode, called Off-road.
Taut damping qualities ensure body roll builds progressively and it remains well contained when you push hard over winding back roads. While the Alltrack leans more than the standard Passat Estate when pushed hard in tighter corners, it never builds to the same level you get in the more expensive VW Touareg SUV, which offers similar levels of accommodation and luggage space.
The additional spring travel brought on by the increase in ride height brings a slight improvement in ride in the comfort-orientated Normal mode. As with the Passat Estate, the electro-mechanical steering is very light in town, yet while it weights up at higher speeds, it fails to deliver much feedback.
With conventional steel coil springs instead of air springs, you can’t alter the ride height when you head off road. But with more ground clearance than the standard Passat Estate, the Alltrack can tackle gravel tracks with a good deal of gusto.
The Off-road driving mode automatically recalibrates the settings of the standard electronically controlled traction and stability control systems as well as the hill holder, hill decent system and, where fitted, the dual-clutch gearbox’s shift points, all for added ability in off-road conditions.
In diesel guise, the Alltrack also promises to offer excellent towing ability, with a maximum braked towing capacity of 2200kg for all but the 148bhp base model tested here, which is rated at 1800kg. To aid with hitching and reversing with a trailer, there is an optional trailer assist function. It provides the driver with guidance via a rear-view camera, which projects images and steering angles onto the infotaiment monitor.