Volkswagen Passat Alltrack Road Test
Review by Tristan Tancredi - 3 April 2013
The VW Passat Alltrack is the missing link between the passenger VW range and the VW SUV range and suitably sits somewhere in the middle of the two models.
Perhaps the biggest difference between the Passat Alltrack and the rest of the passenger range is the use of 4Motion All Wheel Drive. The 4 Wheel Drive system allows for complete control of the vehicle across a variety of terrains, both smooth and rough. Providing an enhanced driving experience at only a small extra cost.
With a higher on-road position, increased ground clearance and rocking a 2.0L TDI Turbocharged engine, the Passat Alltrack is a great family car alternative for both on and off road. Let's check it out.
VW have implemented "BlueMotion Technologies" to the their range and the Passat Alltrack is equipped with said technology. Basically BlueMotion technology is technology that aids with the conservation of fuel. The aspects of this technology include Automatic Stop Start, Coasting and Brake Energy Recuperation.
Automatic Stop Start shuts the engine down when the vehicle has come to a complete stop. The engine starts again when the brake pedal is depressed. With the Alltrack the restart is triggered after a slight delay. Comparing it to the Audi A4 Quattro and the occasionally rough transition from stationary to moving is noticeable.
As mentioned previously, one of the biggest attributes to the Passat Alltrack is the use of 4Motion All Wheel Drive. This AWD system allows the Alltrack to do as the name suggests; Drive comfortably across "All Tracks" and surfaces. Steering is crisp and precise whilst handling is first class.
The 6-Speed DSG transmission works best throughout the mid to higher gears as it can be a little scratchy in the lower gears. The electronically controlled clutch and gear shift provides extremely quick gear changes (3-4 hundreths of a second) and thus results in no loss of power or traction. The outcome is a sublime driving experience on open freeways or dusty country roads alike.
Other driving features include Parking Assist for Parallel and Standard parking. This is basically just a guide on when to reverse etc and we didn't find Park Assist to be all that useful. However some drivers may benefit from these parking guides.
Parking sensors surround the vehicle and give off a warning beep if your about to cause a ding. This is aided by graphical alerts and a reversing camera which are very useful.
Driving modes on offer include Sport, Normal and Comfort. Off Road mode is also an option, despite not being built solely for off-road use, the Passat Alltrack is capable on non-bitumen surfaces (Hill Hold Assist comes in handy on such occasions).
Volkswagen Passat Alltrack
The 2.0L TDI turbocharged diesel engine seems like such a perfect fit for the heavy Passat Alltrack. Delivering maximum power of 130kW at 4200rpm and maximum torque of 380Nm at 1750-2500rpm, the diesel engine is highly capable.
Once beyond first gear, the 6-Speed DSG transmission performs more than admirably (It performs at its peak throughout the mid-gear section). It is crisp, smooth and quick. At times however, when utilising the auto stop/start feature, starts can be clumsy as the start/stop feature kicks in.
Engine noise is quite tamed. It was only when reversing (up hill), or using auto stop/start did we notice the engine straining.
Claimed fuel use sits at 6.3L per 100kms. We drove it anywhere and everywhere whilst we had it for a week (including a trip to Hanging Rock in Victoria) and still returned it to VW with half a tank.
Chrome Roof rails set the scene for what is ideally designed as an "off-road" slash "outback" slash "urban" vehicle. Standard across the Alltrack range, the roof rails are a perfect addition to the Passat as they merge flawlessly with the style lines of this modern, sexy design.
The Chrome doesn't stop at the roof rails; chrome highlights flow from the front grille to the window-frame trims to present a stylish, refined and highly detailed vehicle.
Blind spot lights are positioned on the inside of both side mirrors. The warning system works quite well, although sometimes, they did flash for no apparent reason. Obviously an object, other than a car, triggered the sensor.
The Alltrack maintains a solid resemblance to the Passat range. The front bold grille maintains the unique style of Volkswagens from yesteryear, whilst sleek style lines running the length of the vehicle offer a fresh approach to the model range. The stronger on-road presence of the Alltrack represents a Passat that is built for the outback.
There's a good reason why the Passat Alltrack is mentioned in SUV circles.
Volkswagen Passat Alltrack
An Electronic Stabilisation Program (ESP) incorporates a myriad of safety features including; Anti-Lock Braking System, Electronic Differential Lock and Anti-Slip Regulation Traction Control Systems. VW also integrate Brake Assist and Electronic Brake Pressure Distribution which ultimately serves to assist with the emergency braking by greatly reducing speed.
The Passat Alltrack is loaded with eight airbags scattered throughout the cabin; Twin Front, Side, Rear Seat Side and Full length curtain airbags offer supreme protection for vehicle occupants.
Crumple Zones are also in affect for the Passat Alltrack. In the event of a collision front and rear crumple zones absorb the energy of impact and minimise the risk of passenger injury inside the cabin.
An advanced anti-fatigue technology analyses driving habits and can alert drivers when responsiveness begins to waiver. The system will give the driver a warning sound and display warnings on the Multi-Function Display Unit. Simply a fantastic piece of technology
Fans of the standard Passat interior won't be disappointed. Not a lot has changed for the Alltrack. Three words best describe inside the cabin: Spacious, Comfortable and Practical
Black leather is in abundance throughout the cabin as scattered silver trimmings are splashed across the front dash and inner door linings. The black and silver combination works well to create a clean and modern feel.
Five Leather seats (Vienna Leather Appointed seat trim) provide mountains of comfort and back support. The front passengers are spoilt with heated front seats, whilst all passengers are treated with loads of leg space. A wide boot mouth eases the hassle of loading and unloading cargo, whilst a deep boot provides plenty of space for loads of luggage.
The front dash is well organised with appropriate button positioning, climate controls and a 6.5" Display Screen. A leather steering wheel blends perfectly with the coordination of the front dash.
On the technology front, we have a few gripes. Firstly with Media and Secondly with Navigation. On the media front, the VW media system failed to sync with any iPod that we connected to the USB port (Led to a quiet return trip from Bruce Springsteen) because an iPod specific USB cable must be used. It is quite poor that a iPod specific cable isn't already standard.
Bluetooth Connectivity was easy to connect via the steering wheel controls, although it was soon established that all control of the bluetooth device must be administered through the steering wheel and the Drivers Multi Display Unit. One could not access all aspects of Bluetooth via the 6.5" display screen.
It was also impossible to delete a phone from the cars memory, no matter what we tried (Oh and the system can only store a maximum of 4 phones at a time).
Now, onto the Navigation system. VW are using a RNS510 Navigation system that works quite well. It is easy to set-up and translates to the 6.5" interface sufficiently. The only issue we stumbled across was the map on the 6.5" screen was not working (we decided that it was probably faulty). Nonetheless the directions on the Multi-Function Display unit were adequate.
Volkswagen Passat Alltrack
If you can cope with a few bug bears (namely Media related), the VW Passat Alltrack is quite a reliable, serviceable vehicle. A great addition to the VW range that sits between the SUV market and the passenger range and offers an attractive alternative.
Priced from $45,790, the Alltrack is only a few grand more than the Passat Wagon. Not bad for a car with 4 Motion All Wheel Drive! Take one for a spin today.
* Prices are manufacturer list prices only, for the drive away price please contact your local authorised VW dealer.
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