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IT’S FAIR TO say the four-wheel-drive estate car is something of a niche market. For caravanners, though, it’s a niche worth exploring.


Cars like the new Volkswagen Passat Alltrack offer as much off-road ability as most of us will ever need, but with more load space than most similarly priced SUVs.


I’ve just finished driving the new Alltrack on the road and on snow in the Austrian Alps. The 4Motion 4×4 system and the raised ride height mean the car is less likely to get stuck on a boggy campsite, but on tarmac you’d be hard pressed to tell it from any other Passat Estate. Alltrack owners can expect the same comfortable ride, hushed cabin and high-speed stability.


Load space isn’t compromised by sending power to the rear wheels as well as the fronts. There’s 603 litres with the seats upright, and 1641 litres with them folded. However, there’s a space saver under the floor rather than a full-size spare.


I can count the number of times I have been able to tow on a car launch on the fingers of one hand, so it made a pleasant change to hitch up the Alltrack. I took the car and horsebox through a combined emergency stop and slalom, and was impressed with the car’s stability and composure. The car was on winter tyres and the horsebox weighed just 1100kg, but even so it bodes well for the Alltrack’s stability with a caravan in tow.


Two versions will be available when the Alltrack order books open in April (first customer deliveries are expected in July). The 2.0 TDI 140PS six-speed manual is likely to be the bestseller. The kerbweight of 1706kg gives and 85% match figure of 1450kg. The more powerful 2.0 TDI 170PS is only available with the six-speed DSG transmission rather than a manual, and weighs 1725kg, giving an 85% match figure of 1466kg. Both have towing limits of 2000kg on a 12% gradient.


Impressive though the Alltrack is, it’s far from cheap. Prices are expected to start from around £28,500, with the more powerful version costing nearer £31,500. Even so, I’d still consider one over a standard Passat Estate if you tow in all weathers.