VOLKSWAGEN has officially launched its diesel-only, jacked-up Passat Alltrack wagon in Australia, with a Subaru Outback-baiting price of $47,790 plus on-road costs – $1800 more than the regular mid-spec 125TDI Passat wagon.
The Alltrack range has been kept simple with a single generous specification level, two option packs and one four-cylinder diesel engine paired exclusively with a six-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission.
In addition to offering a compromise between the traditional wagon and an SUV, the Alltrack fills the gap in VW’s range between the $42,990 155TSI flagship variant of its Tiguan compact SUV and the Touareg luxury SUV that starts from $62,990 for the 150TDI.
Powered by a 125kW/350Nm 2.0-litre turbo-diesel engine, the Alltrack consumes 6.3 litres of fuel per 100 kilometres, can hit 100km/h in 8.9 seconds and is rated to tow up to 1800kg braked.
By comparison, the currently manual-only diesel Subaru Outback matches the Alltrack on torque but has 15kW less power, resulting in a slower 9.7-second 0-100km/h sprint and 1700kg braked towing capacity – but it is more efficient at 6.0L/100km.
When Subaru introduces an automatic continuously variable transmission (CVT) to the diesel Outback next year, efficiency is expected to further improve, as on the 2.5-litre petrol variant the auto cuts average consumption by 0.6L/100km.
Subaru charges $2000 for the CVT on the petrol Outback, which if replicated on the diesel will position it higher than the Alltrack at $48,990 – unless Subaru reshuffles pricing between now and then.
Alltrack pricing is also close to the ageing, smaller and less powerful Skoda Octavia Scout, which costs $46,290 in top-spec Premium guise with six-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission.
Volkswagen’s luxury brand Audi recently introduced its similar-sized A4 Allroad to Australia at $69,900, the premium buying a more powerful yet more efficient 130kW/380Nm diesel engine with seven-speed dual-clutch transmission and higher equipment levels.
Ground clearance on the Alltrack is 30mm higher than the standard Passat at 165mm, still way off the Outback’s 213mm and less than the A4 Allroad’s 180mm, but still yielding useful increases to ramp and departure angles.
A steel guard protects the engine, sump, transmission and the front section of the exhaust system, while the usual rugged-looking unpainted black plastic cladding has been applied to lower body sections and wheelarches.
Stainless steel-effect front and rear scuff plates are complemented by Alltrack-branded sill trims made of the real thing, and a premium feel has been achieved by chrome trim on the door mirror housings, grille, window surrounds and roof rails.
The Alltrack’s full-time all-wheel-drive system distributes 10 per cent of engine power to the rear wheels in normal conditions but this can increase to 100 per cent as required.
Volkswagen has transferred the Touareg luxury SUV’s ‘off-road driving program’ to the Passat Alltrack, which alters the throttle response to enable the more delicate inputs suited to driving on low-grip terrain, deactivates the idle-stop system and coasting modes, sets the transmission to up-shift at higher revs and prevents automatic upshifts in manual mode.
The system also recalibrates the anti-lock brakes, traction control and electronic differential locks for loose surfaces, activates hill-descent control when a downhill angle of more than 10 degrees is detected and, where fitted, turns off the optional adaptive cruise control and forward-collision warning systems.
The Alltrack’s interior is trimmed in black or beige leather upholstery, leather trim for the multi-function steering wheel and gear selector, titanium-look dashboard and centre-console highlights, brushed stainless steel pedals and carpet floor mats.
Standard kit includes dual-zone climate-control, remote central locking, electric driver’s seat backrest adjustment, cruise control, automatic headlights and wipers, an auto-dimming interior and driver’s side door mirrors, a powered tailgate, and three 12-volt power outlets.
Rear passengers get a pair of air-conditioning vents and a centre armrest with two cup holders plus boot load-through hatch.
The Alltrack’s eight-speaker audio system incorporating satellite navigation with 6.5-inch touchscreen and 30GB hard drive for map and music storage, Bluetooth phone and audio streaming, while USB and iPod connectivity is available as an optional accessory.
In addition to the eight airbags plus electronic stability and traction control systems, the Alltrack’s standard safety equipment list includes fatigue detection, a reversing camera, front and rear parking sensors with distance display, daytime-running lights and front fog-lights.
The Alltrack rides on 17-inch alloy wheels with self-sealing Continental Mobility tyres, comes with a 16-inch steel spare and has a standard tyre-pressure monitoring system.
Like the Alltrack, Subaru’s diesel Outback Premium also comes with leather, dual-zone climate-control, a reversing camera, satellite navigation, cruise control, Bluetooth streaming and 17-inch alloys.
The Subaru has no rear air vents, parking sensors, automatic headlights or wipers, one less airbag and two fewer speakers in the audio system, but compensates with self-levelling rear suspension, a larger eight-inch sat-nav display, a full-size spare wheel, and eight-way power driver’s seat adjustment with memory.
Volkswagen’s $3300 Driver Assistance and Visibility option pack comprises lane-departure warning, blind-spot monitoring, LED tail-lights and self-levelling bi-Xenon adaptive headlights with integrated LED daytime-running lights and washer jets.
A $2800 Sport option pack comes with 18-inch ‘Canyon’ alloy wheels with self-sealing tyres, paddle-shifters, front sports seats with premium Nappa leather upholstery, and rear privacy glass.
Other options include a panoramic sunroof ($2000), adaptive cruise control with forward collision warning and autonomous emergency braking ($2000), self-parking ($900) and metallic or pearl paint ($700).