Volkswagen Passat Alltrack (2012 – 2015) At A Glance
Turning an estate into something a bit more rugged and useful seems pretty straightforward. You basically take your standard car, jack up the suspension and fit it with four-wheel drive. Then finish it with some extra body cladding including underbody protection panels. It’s a formula that has worked for Audi with its allroad models and even Skoda has got in on the act with the Octavia Scout.
So not to be outshone, it’s Volkswagen’s turn with the Passat Alltrack. In fact it’s surprising the company hasn’t done this before. The Alltrack is essentially the latest Passat Estate with 4MOTION four-wheel drive and a 30mm higher ride height, to make it more capable on rough roads and perhaps even the odd farm track you might venture down.
As well as the increased ground clearance it gets an off-road mode, similar to the one in the Tiguan Escape. This has hill descent assist which automatically brakes the vehicle when you’re going downhill (if it’s steeper than 10 degrees) plus it alters the ABS so it’s better when braking on loose surfaces.
The Passat Alltrack has plenty going for it but one sticking point may be the price. It's expected to start at around £28,500 but the 170PS version with the DSG gearbox is likely to be more than £30k. That's not far short of an Audi A4 allroad with the 2.0 TDI 177PS engine that costs £31,375 while a Skoda Octavia Scout 2.0 TDI 140PS is less than £23k. Like the Alltrack both are 4x4s with raised ride heights.
That said the Alltrack is a good package and one that makes plenty of sense if you regularly have to venture onto rough roads or do lots of towing. Our test route took us up into the Austrian Alps in winter with plenty of snow and ice to negotiate and here it dealt with everything that was thrown at it with no problems. If you don't want a full-sized 4x4 like the Touareg but need more than a normal estate, the Alltrack could be the perfect compromise.
Volkswagen Passat Alltrack 2012 Road Test
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Reviews for Volkswagen Passat Alltrack (2012 – 2015)'s top 3 rivals
Ask Honest John
Recommend an estate car with 4x4 for difficult terrain?
"I am looking to replace my six-year old Skoda Octavia 4x4 Estate with a fairly new (1-2 years old max) family estate, still with 4x4. I need 4x4 for a difficult drive and local access road in the Lake District. One option is another Octavia 4x4 estate or Octavia Scout, another is the Skoda Superb 4x4 estate. However, apart from these, there seem to be very few conventional style estates with 4x4. I have looked at the Volvo V70, but XC70s seem to be incredibly rare with the vast majority being sold as V70 two-wheel drive. I would prefer to stay with a conventional estate design rather than the "high-ride / quasi off-road" vehicles that seem to be the most popular style. Can you suggest any alternative vehicles?"
BMW does a 320d xDrive Touring for about £30,000 or there's the Volkswagen Passat Alltrack: www.honestjohn.co.uk/road-tests/volkswagen/vw-passat-alltrack-2012-road-test//. But probably all you need is a Peugeot 2008 with Grip Control. I've driven one up a snow-covered 1-in-3 ski slope: www.honestjohn.co.uk/road-tests/peugeot/peugeot-2008-2013-road-test//?section=video. Or a Fiat 500L Trekking: www.honestjohn.co.uk/road-tests/fiat/fiat-500-xl-and-trekking-road-test//
Which car for trips to the Alps?
"I am looking to buy a new car which is comfortable for the frequent, long journeys to and around the Alps in all seasons. My wife will be my usual passenger and she has a back problem so access, comfort and ride quality are very important. With three and soon all four children in university I might need a decent boot space.
My choices/price range came to Subaru Forester (Swiss national vehicle), Passat Alltrack and CC. What are your thoughts?"
The Passat Alltrack seems to be all right. I followed one for about 60km in the snow in the Alpes Maritimes early this year. But the Forester is more likely to be reliable. Fit it with Goodyear Vector 4 Seasons tyres and you should have no problems, winter or summer.
Why don't Volkswagen build a 4x4 Golf Estate with raised suspension?
"My wife is totally devoted to our Mk IV Golf Estate TDI 130, the ideal mid-sized family workhorse, which will be 10 years old this year and has over 100,000 miles on the clock. It runs like a dream but the day will come when a replacement must be considered. We are a one-car family and my question to you and Volkswagen is: when are they going to build the perfect vehicle, a 4x4 Golf Estate with raised suspension For us, the Audi A4 AllRoad has insufficient headroom, limited luggage space and is overpriced."
VAG did build the car you want: the Skoda Octavia 4x4 estate. There's no new model Octavia estate yet, but there is a Passat Alltrack 4WD estate. And this month there will be a BMW 120d 4WD, tested here: www.honestjohn.co.uk/road-tests/bmw/bmw-1-series-f20-120d-xdrive-road-test//
What state with good ground clearance?
"I currently drive a newish Volskwagen Passat, which is perfect for carrying two sets of golf clubs and two electric trollies out of view in the boot. However I now require something with greater ground clearance at a similiar price. Any ideas?"
A Passat Alltrack or a Subaru Outback.