Volkswagen Passat Alltrack review: the road already travelled
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Volkswagen Passat Alltrack
- Looks sharp
- Smooth and powerful
- Very spacious
- A whole generation behind Tiguan
- Obvious mix of old and new in cabin
- Loadspace long but shallow
If you’re freaking out about Volkswagen moving with extreme speed towards tall SUVs, weird haptic-feedback cabin controls and ultimately Battery Electric Vehicles like the forthcoming ID range, consider the Passat Alltrack your safe place.
The Alltrack is the sole surviving member of the once plentiful Passat family in New Zealand. This is an updated model, although it’s far from new: this generation dates back to 2015.
It’s what we used to call a “crossover”, which is essentially a conventional estate, but with raised suspension (by 25mm in this case) and some chunky bits stuck on the outside. It’s an AWD wagon with enough SUV in it to pass muster outside the school gates.
VW Group actually still does a few of these types of things, like the Skoda Octavia Scout and Audi A6 Allroad. You might also think Subaru Outback (which was really the first mass-market crossover, back in the 1990s) or any number of Cross Country-branded Volvos.
Inside, the Alltrack is also a comfort zone. Because it is, well, very comfortable, with Nappa leather and power everything. But also in a metaphorical sense, because it’s not as challenging as the very latest VW Group stuff. The main dials are analogue and the steering wheel controls are… actual buttons.
We say that as a matter of fact, not judgment: the Alltrack still has a state-of-the-art infotainment system, the centre console has in fact moved to an array of touch-sensitive controls and there’s wireless phone projection or new-gen USB-C points if you want them. But it’s all very clear and intuitive; it belongs to an age when it was more important to appear functional than futuristic. Those were the heady days of 2015.
So the Passat Alltrack is just… really nice. It’s nice looking, with sharp lines and lots of chrome. It’s nice to drive, with a smooth 162kW iteration of VW’s ubiquitous 2.0-litre turbo-petrol engine (so yes, it’s quite quick as well).
The suspension comes as standard with Adaptive Chassis Control, which works in partnership with the Driving Profile Selector. There’s also an off-road mode, so with that 4Motion AWD at work a bit of mud-plugging is not out of the question.
The Passat is also a rather nice adjunct to family life because it’s a genuinely spacious family wagon – as it should be at nearly 4.9 metres in length. The rear seat has luxury-car levels of legroom (three-zone climate control too) and the boot is vast at 639 litres, even if that’s achieved more with length than height.
At $61k the Passat Alltrack is line-ball with the new 132kW Tiguan Style on price, while offering more cargo space and the same power as the Tiguan R-Line ($70k).
But it’s a very different proposition to either of those two SUVs: the ambience is less techy but it’s lower to the ground and more lithe-feeling. It remains an elegant and dynamically adept alternative.
VOLKSWAGEN PASSAT ALLTRACK
ENGINE: 2.0-litre turbo-petrol four
GEARBOX: 7-speed automated dual clutch (DSG), AWD