VW’s answer to the Audi A4 Allroad isn’t as effortless to drive as it ought to be

What is it?

A nice idea on paper. Take one of the most practical and easy-to-live with estate cars there is, raise the ride height, give it four-wheel drive, a powerful diesel engine and a DSG gearbox, and then equip the interior with lots of toys and the exterior with a few subtle styling tweaks and you end up with the Volkswagen Passat Alltrack.

Sounds like a desirable package, then.

What's it like?

The Passat Alltrack is not a driver’s car, nor is it meant to be one. It’s supposed to be stylish and comfortable transport that blends into the background, asking no questions of the thousands of miles of service you’d expect of it.

In parts, it’s very well executed. The 168bhp 2.0 TDI engine is a particular highlight; it’s a brisk performer when you want it to be, and then a quiet, refined and efficient companion on long motorway runs, averaging around 42mpg.

The good work continues inside. The Alltrack has a very high spec as standard, and it’s a very comfortable place to cover motorway miles in. The driving position is excellent, the raised ride height offering a commanding view of the road. Sat-nav, six-way electrically adjustable seats, and plenty of leather and brushed metal trim are among the standard-fit items.

So with such a good engine and interior, it’s just a shame the rest of the car isn’t up to the same comfortable and easy-going standard. The six-speed DSG gearbox is the biggest problem; it’s far too hesitant and jerky when pulling away from junctions, and the integrated stop-start system is slow to react and can get confused in heavy stop-start traffic as to what it wants to do, suddenly cutting the engine just as you want to pull away.

The Alltrack also fails to hide its considerable mass. The ride is lumpy at low speeds and fidgety at higher speeds, meaning it never really settles into a comfortable cruise. The considerable kerb weight is also noticeable when cornering; there’s a lot of roll, even at moderate speeds.

Should I buy one?

There’s no denying the Passat Alltrack is a desirable car. It looks smart and is very well equipped as standard, and the security of four-wheel drive and an off-road mode may tempt some out of more expensive SUVs who like a raised driving position, the extra practicality and occasional off-road ability.

But the driving compromises are just too great. The Passat Alltrack doesn’t ride as well as you would expect it to, and although an automatic gearbox would seem a natural fit for a car of its size and weight, this six-speed DSG isn’t up to the job.

Volkswagen Passat Alltrack 2.0 TDI 170

Price: £31,030; 0-62mph: 8.9sec; Top speed: 131mph; Economy: 47.9mpg (combined); CO2: 155g/km; Kerb weight: 1725kg; Engine: 4 cyls, 1968cc, turbodiesel; Power: 168bhp at 4200rpm; Torque: 258lb ft at 1750rpm; Gearbox: 6spd DSG

Mark Tisshaw

Title: Editor

Mark is a journalist with more than a decade of top-level experience in the automotive industry. He first joined Autocar in 2009, having previously worked in local newspapers. He has held several roles at Autocar, including news editor, deputy editor, digital editor and his current position of editor, one he has held since 2017.

From this position he oversees all of Autocar’s content across the print magazine, autocar.co.uk website, social media, video, and podcast channels, as well as our recent launch, Autocar Business. Mark regularly interviews the very top global executives in the automotive industry, telling their stories and holding them to account, meeting them at shows and events around the world.

Mark is a Car of the Year juror, a prestigious annual award that Autocar is one of the main sponsors of. He has made media appearances on the likes of the BBC, and contributed to titles including What Car?Move Electric and Pistonheads, and has written a column for The Sun.

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Harry P 12 June 2012

 "The ride is lumpy at low

 "The ride is lumpy at low speeds and fidgety at higher speeds"

Why fit 18" alloy wheels to a vehicle designed for "limited" off road used.  16" or 17" would be more appropriate and offer a better ride.

As a potential purchaser for a 4WD automatic estate / SUV ,  VW have missed the mark, too expensive and an uncomfortable ride. perhaps Skoda will be a better option?      


superstevie 8 June 2012

The 508 is certainly a better

The 508 is certainly a better looking car than the Passat, inside and out. The Passat is looking old.

BriMarsh 7 June 2012

A diesel Passat estate

Be still my beating heart!