I know, I know: it’s only the end of August and already some thoughts are turning to winter driving. Just as well then that I’ve been testing the VW Passat Alltrack.
The Alltrack is VW’s four-wheel-drive Passat estate. Riding an extra 30mm clear of the ground, it also benefits from some ‘muscle-enhancing’ styling.
There’s plastic cladding for the wheel arches, sills and valances, a metal-look underbody protection panels front and rear, plus a proper steel sump guard.
All-in-all, it looks a pretty serious piece of kit. According to the bods at VW, it neatly fills the gap between its passenger cars and its more overly off-road SUVs, such as the Tiguan and the mud-plugging Touareg.
Given its ground clearance, the Alltrack isn’t going to be a real true mudplugger. What it’s ideal for though is anyone keen on wintersports, or towing a horsebox or boat.
There are two variants of the Alltrack, both powered by VW’s tried and tested 2.0TDI: one is the 168bhp version, fitted with a six speed DSG dual-clutch gearbox.
The other, as tested here, is the 138bhp BlueMotion which utilises a six-speed manual gearbox and will set you back £28,480. With a top speed of 123mph, it’ll cover the 0-62mph sprint in 10.9secs, emit 150g/km CO2 and return 49.6mpg. Not bad for a 4WD estate.
Both variants are fitted with the latest generation of VW’s Haldex-based 4Motion all-wheel drive system. And in both cases, its been embellished with a small number of mechanical and cosmetic to further aid offroad ability.
On the hard stuff, the Alltrack is a delight to drive. Light, precise and accurate steering works perfectly in tandem with the slick manual ‘box.
Despite its increased ride height, it remains surefooted, especially when pushed through corners.
Given the fact it was bone dry when I drove the car, I wasn’t able to test it in rain, hail, snow or mud: but I’m reliably informed from someone who has, that it copes with such demands very impressively.
Sitting proudly on the centre console is the AWD (all-wheel drive) button. In addition to activating a Hill Descent Control — which automatically applies the brakes as required when descending a gradient steeper than 10% at a speed below 6mph — it also inhibits the DCT’s upshifts, alters the settings of the anti-lock brakes, traction control and stability systems to suit loose or slippery surfaces, and generally keeps the Alltrack moving.
Inside the cabin: well, it’s typical Volkswagen. Everything’s beautifully put together; there’s no rattles of squeaks, and there’s ample room.
So, all-in-all, the Alltrack could easily be all things to all men: alright?