The Alltrack is based on the familiar Passat Estate but includes a number of modifications, not least of which is that 4MOTION four-wheel drive system. The raised ride height lifts ground clearance from 135 to 165mm, which offers better clearance off road. The body enhancements also provide a modicum of protection from scrapes when covering rough terrain. These include stainless steel-look front and rear underbody protection panels and flared side sills. Other features include matt chrome roof rails, window surrounds, plus a smarter grille and exterior mirror casings.
At 4,771mm, the Passat Alltrack is exactly the same length as the Passat Estate and despite flared wheel arch protection, the vehicle's width also remains the same at 1,820mm. The raised ride height also improves the car's breakover angle - the acuteness of a hill crest it can negotiate without grounding out - from 9.5 to 12.8 degrees. Ruggedly styled front and rear bumpers increase the approach angle from 13.5 to 16 degrees and the departure angle from 11.9 to 13.6 degrees, giving a welcome measure of ability to the marketing spin.
With a great diesel engine and clever all-wheel drive underpinnings, the Passat Alltrack seems to offer a lot of car for your money. It's well equipped too, the single trim level including Alcantara upholstery, 2Zone electronic climate control, a touchscreen satellite navigation system, DAB radio, MDI iPod connectivity, Bluetooth telephone preparation, cruise control, front and rear parking sensors, a tyre pressure monitoring system and 18-inch Canyon alloy wheels. It doesn't stop there. A Driver Alert System that monitors the driver's responses to raise awareness of fatigue is also standard, as is ESP (Electronic Stabilisation Programme).
What To Look For (used_look)
Of the 5,000 Passats we found for sale in a quick recent straw-poll survey, just seven of them were Alltrack models, so you're probably going to need to travel to find one and you can't be overly pernickety about colour and trim. Check the clutch on the 140PS manual cars and check that all gears engage cleanly (including reverse) on the 170PS DSG model. The DSG isn't the last word in durability in off-road scenarios, so you'll need to be doubly careful if you suspect the previous owner has been using the car to the limit of its capabilities off road. The all-wheel drive system also allowed the Alltrack a 2000kg braked towing capability, which was 200kg more than a standard Passat estate, so if you see a tow bar, make an enquiry as to what the car's been pulling. The multispoke alloy wheels are susceptible to damage when driving in ruts and despite the raised ground clearance, you'll need to make sure the exhaust, driveshaft gaiters and wheel-arch liners haven't been wrecked by over-ambitious off road antics.
(approx based on a 2013 Passat 2.0 TDI 140 Alltrack excl. VAT) Parts aren't overly expensive, with a clutch assembly setting you back around £85 and an alternator close to £115. Brake pads front and rear are about £65 and £50 respectively.
With its raised ride height and 4MOTION four-wheel drive system, the Passat Alltrack is designed to find grip where none seems to exist. Of course, even the best four-wheel drive vehicles stand or fall on the grip of their tyres, but the Passat gives its rubber every chance. While it doesn't have the ride height for really serious off-road excursions, for those looking for a car that they can bump up an unmade track to a remote beach or not feel vertigo when ascending the hairpins to a snowy ski resort, the Alltrack looks ideal.
The Passat Alltrack features an off-road mode, activated by a dashboard-mounted button. In this setting, hill descent assist is engaged which automatically brakes the vehicle when the descent angle is greater than 10 degrees. The anti lock brake threshold is also altered, with faster-reacting electronic differential locks to prevent wheelspin. Choose the DSG dual-clutch transmission and the shift pattern is altered when off-road mode is engaged, with higher shift points to give more power, a flatter and easier-to-manage accelerator pedal movement and no automatic up-shifting in manual mode. There are two engines to choose from. The first is a 2.0-litre TDI 140 PS mated to a six-speed manual gearbox. Should pressing a clutch pedal fail to appeal, try the slightly pokier 170 PS version of this engine. This is fitted with the six-speed DSG transmission and will get you through 62mph in just 8.9 seconds. Economy? You're looking at 49.6mpg for the 140PS manual car and 47.9mpg for the 170PS model with the DSG. Later variants had a 177PS version of this unit.
The Volkswagen Passat Alltrack is a car that never really gathered any momentum with UK buyers. As such, it makes an interesting used car choice, provided you can track one down. You might think rarity would swell the values of the few cars that are on offer, but quite the opposite. Owners find it hard to price their vehicles with nothing to compare them against and therefore you can quite easily negotiate a real bargain. If you value the all-weather capability of all-wheel drive but don't want to spend a fortune on an SUV that matches the Passat's build integrity, the Alltrack makes a smart choice.