From £22,5158
Latest Passat Alltrack is one of the best examples of that most inoffensive of things, the all-seasons estate

Our Verdict

Volkswagen Passat 2.0 TDI 190 GT DSG
The new Volkswagen Passat is now in its eighth generation

The Passat wants to head upmarket. Does it have the substance?

Mark Tisshaw
17 February 2017

What is it?

The Volkswagen Passat Alltrack is now part of the furniture in the jacked-up ‘lifestyle’ estate world. These are cars aimed at folk not quite ready to sell their soul to the SUV, but do see the appeal of something altogether more rugged in a package they’re comfortable with.

The Passat Alltrack, now a year or so into its second generation, ticks all the usual boxes in its transformation from normal estate to higher-riding, tougher-looking estate. Its ride height is raised by 28mm over the regular Volkswagen Passat estate upon which it is based, there's plenty of black-plastic cladding to the lower half of its body, and it gets four-wheel drive as standard.

The Passat Alltrack range is a slim one, with Volkswagen’s familiar 2.0-litre TDI diesel engine offered with either 148bhp and a six-speed manual gearbox, or a 187bhp version (tested here) wedded to a six-speed dual-clutch automatic.

What's it like?

About as inoffensive as cars come. That's damning with faint praise, yes, but then this is motoring at its most rational and functional. Make the interior nice, the ride comfortable, make sure the steering doesn’t feel weird, nor the engine do anything but quietly tick over in the background, sipping as little fuel as possible, and you have the motoring equivalent of a comfy knitted jumper. 

The Passat Alltrack is all of those things. The interior is a real high point; not chintzy, solidly built, and with the right amount of useful technology, clear screens, and sensibly laid out switchgear. The seats are big and comfy, and the view out from the cabin is commanding. It’s an interior that wouldn’t feel out of place another rung or two up the pricing ladder.

Key among the appeal of a rugged estate over an SUV is the more traditional-car-like handling. The Passat Alltrack is the latest of the breed that doesn’t roll around corners like its trendier, higher-sided SUV stablemates, and feels a more familiar driving experience. Still, it’s a very neutral-handling car; buyers aren’t looking for any real driver involvement in this part of the Volkswagen range.

Elsewhere, the steering is precise enough, yet offers little to no feedback, while the ride comfort is a touch softer and more comfortable than the regular Passat Estate thanks to the extra suspension travel.

We picked a nice snowy weekend on which to test the Passat’s Alltrack credentials. Slushy roads were as extreme as the conditions got, but there was never any loss in traction, nor any diminishing of the car’s steady, predictable character. That’s helped by the strong, flexible diesel engine, the only black marks against which are the slightly higher than welcome din it makes at motorway speeds, and the fuel economy’s refusal to go too far above 40mpg, even in the Eco driving mode.

Should I buy one?

This is a car that’s resolutely bought with the head rather than the heart, the kind you can see as sliding into a role as family workhorse and staying on the driveway for the best part of the next decade. A car to respect rather than be excited about, then, the Passat Alltrack is an excellent example of the all-season estate breed. 

Volkswagen Passat Alltrack 2.0 TDI SCR 4Motion 190PS 6spd DSG

Price £34,835; Engine 4cyls, 1968cc, turbodiesel; Power 187bhp at 1900-3300rpm Torque 295lb ft at 1900-3300rpm; Gearbox 6spd dual-clutch auto’; Kerb weight 1705kg; 0-62mph 8.0sec; Top speed 136mph Economy 54.3mpg; CO2/tax band 137g/km/27% Rivals Subaru Outback, Skoda Octavia Scout 

Join the debate

Comments
15

17 February 2017
Seems like a day can't by when a VAG model variant is being tested...

289

17 February 2017
....yes, on the face of it a worthy workhorse and perfect for family countryside living....except, VW wont allow you to buy it with a decent petrol engine!...Van engines only, and even the standard 18" wheels have way too low profile tyres for countryside living (45 profile) and the optional 19" wheels shown here on your test car are 40 profile. One look at our lanes here in the shires will tell you that this wont work...enormous potholes and ruddy great lumps of flint lying in the road will soon put paid to these trinkets. From a countryside practicality point of view 50 profile is the lowest you should go.

17 February 2017
[quote=289]....yes, on the face of it a worthy workhorse and perfect for family countryside living....except, VW wont allow you to buy it with a decent petrol engine!...Van engines only, and even the standard 18" wheels have way too low profile tyres for countryside living (45 profile) and the optional 19" wheels shown here on your test car are 40 profile. One look at our lanes here in the shires will tell you that this wont work...enormous potholes and ruddy great lumps of flint lying in the road will soon put paid to these trinkets. From a countryside practicality point of view 50 profile is the lowest you should go.[/quote] And yet Audi offers a petrol option on its A4 Allroad, suggesting there is a market for petrol versions of these types of estate.

17 February 2017
on the day the T-charge is announced, test another diesel car. Sure, we can rightly plead naive/ misled for currently owning one, but you'd have to be mad to actually go out and buy a new diesel car. Not only do they carry a certain amount of opprobrium which will only grow, but they are also about to be taxed into the hinterland. Madness to suggest buying one really.

____ !

17 February 2017
But a model in both saloon and estate form that the VW group (still so arrogant) will not even sell in this country in anything but diesel form or super expensive hybrid. No efficient petrol for the emissions minded plebs in the UK, let them eat NO2...

17 February 2017
That seems pretty steep to me. Surely beginning to tread on Audi's toes. Make it £25k and fit a petrol engine then it might be interesting.

289

17 February 2017
They almost did Will.....The Octavia Scout...priced right, but still VW thought they knew what was best for us and insisted on tractor engines!!

19 February 2017
[quote=289]They almost did Will.....The Octavia Scout...priced right, but still VW thought they knew what was best for us and insisted on tractor engines!![/quote] Not sure how I forgot the Scout, but yes you're absolutely right, one with a petrol engine would be almost perfect. A 1.4TSI would do me nicely.

17 February 2017
Why do some people like to go on about how diesels are about to be taxed so badly and demonised. If and when they change the tax it does not apply to second hand cars so if you own a diesel nothing is going to change. It will only apply to new cars sold after they have announced it so everyone will know what its going to cost before they buy. I think you will actually see the £20 and £30 a year tax cars holding their value since the newer ones will be more to tax.

289

17 February 2017
....true d79m, there are no current plans to tax vehicles which are already registered....however, I wouldn't put it past the exchequer to savage those who already own diesels in the future. Too tasty an opportunity for them to miss......make you feel guilty for your choice and grateful to them for admonishing you whilst your back is against the wall!

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