The already practical VW Passat wagon achieves extra ability in its just-arrived Alltrack form.
THE GERMAN equivalent of the Czech response to a Japanese giant – that’s one way of describing a just-landed elevated and quasi-off road edition of the Passat wagon.
The Passat Alltrack has become a 2015 New Zealand market entry by the skin of its teeth, arriving just a fortnight before year-end. The model has landed in a single specification, driven by a 140kW/400Nm 2.0-litre turbodiesel and retailing for $57,990.
That’s an $8000 premium over its in-house rival and near-twin, the Skoda Octavia Scout, which sits on the same platform and has the same powertrain, but with 5kW and 20Nm less. Skoda’s strategy also includes a petrol option, with a 132kW/280Nm 1.8-litre direct-injection turbo unit that costs $1790 less than their diesel edition.
The Japanese rival for both is, of course, the same-sized and configured Subaru Outback: Here in a family of five editions spanning from $44,990 to $59,990.
The only models directly competing with the Passat are the pair providing with a 2.0-litre turbodiesel, the $47,990 Outback Diesel and the $7000-dearer Diesel Premium.
With 110kW and 350Nm, the Subaru offer is potentially left eating the Germans’ (and Czech) dust, and it might also be seen to be lacking in some elements of specification.
Transmission directions also differ, the Japanese wagon favouring a Lineartronic seven-step constantly variable device whereas the Passat and Octavia have a six-speed dual clutch automated manual (DSG) box.
However the Outback has potentially has one major advantage – it has a full-time four-wheel-drive whereas the VW Group models use a Haldex drive setup that favours the fronts and only starts sending grunt to the rear wheels when a loss of traction is detected.
VW reckons the car’s fifth-generation Haldex is smart enough to act before actual traction slip occurs, and can engage within “a fraction of a second” – so smartly and smoothly, it says, that no driver will be any the wiser.
Also, the Drive Mode system is augmented for the Alltrack with additional off-road modes, including hill hold and descent modes, which complement the Sport, Comfort, Eco and Individual functions. However, NW NZ has made no mention about whether it will offer, even as an option, the Europe market’s front and rear torque-vectoring diffs to abet the standard fit electronic limited slip devices.
All this might become a point of discussion when the rival cars are being cross-shopped.
VW claims its model can accelerate from 0-100kmh in 8.0 seconds, topping out at 220kmh. It returns a claimed 5.1 litres per 100 kilometres on the combined fuel economy cycle and emits 135 grams of CO2 per kilometre.
The Alltrack mimics the basic architecture of the regular B8 Passat wagon, but adds ride height – an extra 27.5mm, for a total of 147mm ground clearance, as result of it taking longer springs and retuned dampers – as well as underbody protection and all-wheel-drive capability.
Also setting it apart are new bumpers, trapezoidal exhaust trims, bespoke 18-inch alloy rims (with 19s as options), black plastic wheelarch overfenders and sills, roof rails and a set of unique exterior colours, including the hero hue seen here - ‘Habanero Orange Metallic.’
Alltrack has 639 litres of storage space with the rear seats in position, and 1769 litres with the seatbacks folded down. A flexible architecture includes a cargo floor that can be lowered, alloy cargo rails and an adjustable netting divider.
A sophisticated trailer control mode available on Europe-spec cars that allows the Alltrack to steer itself to park a trailer while reversing has not made here due to stricter rules concerning trailer chain retainers.
The specification includes Apple Play and Android Auto connectivity via a bespoke Alltrack infotainment system, LED headlights and tail-lamps, a TFT dash, satellite navigation, Drive Mode Select, a rearview camera and radar cruise with city emergency stop.