From October 2007 issue

List price when tested: £21,657
Kerbweight: 1554kg
85% match: 1321kg
Max towing weight: 2000kg
Towball limit: 85kg

NOT ALL four-wheel drives are full-on off-roaders. The likes of the Volkswagen Passat 4Motion offer the extra traction of a 4×4 but with better fuel economy and lower running costs. What’s not to like about that?

The estate version was the Towcar Awards overall winner in 2007, and while the saloon is not as practical, it tows just as well. The combination of a powerful diesel engine and four-wheel drive made our hill-start test fuss-free. The electronic parking brake held the outfit still on the 1-in-10 slope without any of the creeping backwards you sometimes get with a conventional handbrake that hasn’t been pulled on firmly enough.

Composed and in control

Through the lane-change test the Passat 4Motion was composed and firmly in control. The caravan did as it was told, and that was that. With 236lb.ft of torque the VW’s 2.0-litre diesel engine is man enough for any suitable match, and feels like it will happily tow at 60mph all day.

Unhitch the van and performance is strong, while the official combined figure of 42.8mpg comfortably beats most off-roaders for fuel economy.

Inside, the Passat is well screwed together and spacious. There’s not as much room in the rear seats as Ford Mondeo passengers enjoy, but only the very tall will grumble. Boot space of 461 litres is reasonable, although it’s a shame there’s no hatchback version (most cars of this size sold in the UK are hatches).

This is a minor gripe, though. If you’re a four-seasons caravanner, especially one who regularly stays on grassy pitches, the Passat 4Motion successfully matches saloon-car running costs with the all-weather ability of a 4×4.

We say
Towing: 5/5
Solo: 4/5
Practicality: 4/5
Buying & owning: 4/5

Verdict: 4/5. A great all-weather towcar, and a very capable family saloon.

Braking 30-0mph: n/a

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