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VW Passat Alltrack to remain diesel only

Track and field: The Passat Alltrack increased its sales by 40.5 per cent last year, while the regular Passat dipped by 20.3 per cent.

Sales growth expected for Volkswagen Passat Alltrack in 2018

Volkswagen logo13 Feb 2018

By DANIEL DeGASPERI

VOLKSWAGEN Group Australia (VGA) has revealed that it will not expand its Passat Alltrack range to include a petrol version, despite Holden only offering a V6 petrol for its similarly positioned Commodore Tourer.

The Passat Alltrack was the only medium car under $60,000 to increase its annual sales last year – although VFACTS classifies it as a large SUV – growing by 40.5 per cent to 867 units, while regular Passat fell 20.3 per cent to 2463 units.

Some of that growth can be attributed to the popular limited Wolfsburg Edition that was re-introduced to the market in September.

However, according to VGA general manager of product and marketing Ben Wilks, more growth was expected with the Passat Alltrack this year and he admitted the similarly positioned Commodore Tourer’s arrival could be helpful.

“The increased activity in that segment will probably be useful for the Alltrack as well to be one of the great cars of the segment,” he told GoAuto at the national media launch of the Golf GTI Original in the New South Wales Southern Highlands last week.

“The Alltrack remains a bit of a best-kept secret to some extent, so I think there’s an enormous amount of potential in that car. We’ve done a bit of activity in terms of visibility of that car in the last 12 months, and we’re seeing the results in terms of sales on the Alltrack. So I think we can even grow more.”

Mr Wilks would not reveal specific sales targets for the Passat Alltrack, which for 2018 has been priced from $51,290 plus on-road costs – up $500 on the 2017 model. However, he also backed the decision to offer the model only with 2.0-litre turbo-diesel four-cylinder power, despite Holden’s strategy of offering its Commodore Tourer only with a 3.6-litre naturally aspirated V6 petrol engine.

Meanwhile the Subaru Outback, which last year outsold the Passat Alltrack by 13-to-one with 11,271 annual sales despite a 7.1 per cent year-on-year decline, was available with petrol or diesel four-cylinder, and petrol six-cylinder power.

“I think it (diesel) certainly suits the long-distance touring that customers are often doing with an Alltrack,” Mr Wilks said.

Although the Passat Alltrack was available in Europe with 2.0-litre turbo-petrol power, there was, according to Mr Wilks, no current demand in Volkswagen showrooms for it and therefore no plan to add it.

“In the immediate term no, but I mean we’re certainly always investigating it,” he said.

“If there’s a potential at some stage for a petrol engine then I think that will be driven somewhat by the customer demand, and so far that’s not a question that we’re getting from customers who are buying the diesel.”

Although VGA currently lacks a proper large SUV offering, and the Passat Alltrack also costs more than the $45,990 Commodore Tourer and the Outback range that runs from $36,240 to $48,790, there was also no plan to reduce its pricetag.

As with Holden (until late 2018 when the Acadia arrives) and Subaru, Volkswagen does not have an affordable large SUV in its range despite VFACTS classifying its wagon as such, leaving the Passat Alltrack as its closest offering.

Mr Wilks admitted the car-maker would “need to respond with the type of products that customers want” and revealed that VGA has worked hard on a right-hand-drive business case for the US-based Atlas/Teramont. However it has yet to be green lit and, he added, it would not arrive before 2020 even if it was.

Until then, even normal Passat sales have been running at a 60 per cent bias towards the wagon, on top of the Passat Alltrack sales – which he said was a “unique product” that has satisfied those who have not moved to an SUV.

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