A capable all-weather tow car, although a regular Passat Estate is better value.
Excellent towing capabilities; large luggage capacity; generous rear legroom
Much more expensive than a regular Passat; road noise pronounced over coarse surfaces
It takes a careful inspection to spot the visual changes to the new Passat, but there are more driver assistance systems than before, along with uprated infotainment, and wireless Apple Carplay connectivity.
The Alltrack is a pricier choice than the conventional diesel Passat. The 4Motion 4×4 system is clearly a benefit while towing, and the raised ride height could come in handy if pulling a van over bumpy ground. But, for most caravanners, most of the time, is a regular Passat just as good?
Moving on to the motorway, we upped our speed to 60mph. The VW easily held this, both uphill and into headwinds
Four-wheel drive, a healthy kerbweight, and a torquey diesel engine is a promising combination. And in most respects the Alltrack delivers on that promise.
With a kerbweight of 1725kg the Altrack is considerably heavier than the two-wheel-drive version of the regular estate, which helps to make the VW a sound match for a wide variety of tourers: the 85% match figure is 1466kg. We matched the car to a Coachman 575 VIP with a MiRO of 1474kg, and set out on the road.
First impressions were really very good. The DSG auto changed gear smoothly, and made the most of the engine’s considerable 295lb ft of pulling power. There was also no sign of wheelspin on damp Tarmac, thanks to the power being spread among all four wheels.
Starting off on a 1-in-10 slope was no trouble at all. The electronic parking brake held car and caravan still, and when we applied the throttle, the Passat pulled forward without fuss or strain.
Moving on to the motorway, we upped our speed to 60mph. The VW easily held this speed uphill and into headwinds.
Most of the time the Alltrak felt secure and stable. We’d expect no less of a Passat, which has long been one of our favourite tow cars. However, there were some side-to-side movements when overtaking HGVs. They were pronounced enough for us to feel the caravan gently tugging at the back of the car, but quickly passed with little or no intervention from the driver.
Our test car was fitted with Dynamic Chassis Control, an £895 option. This gives drivers a choice of ‘normal’, ‘sport’, or ‘comfort’ settings for the suspension.
As a rule with such systems, we usually find the ‘normal’ setting best for towing. However, with the Alltrack, ‘sport’ did seem to keep the caravan on a shorter leash, with fewer movements in crosswinds or when overtaking a lorry.
When we arrived at our destination, manoeuvring was easy. Trailer Assist, which takes care of steering when reversing onto a pitch, is a £500 option. However, the driver does need to decide when to initiate the turn, so there’s still some skill and experience required to guide the caravan smoothly onto the pitch.
We’re surprised that a reversing camera is an optional extra, priced at £335. You’d think that this would be standard on a car packed with so many high-tech systems, and costing almost £40,000. It’s certainly an option we’d choose, given how useful it is when hitching up to a caravan.
The towbar and electrics (£930) drop down at the touch of a button. The socket is on the side of the towbar, well clear of the bumper.
The extra ride height makes relatively little difference to the way the Passat drives in most circumstances. Perhaps there’s extra lean when cornering, and the ride might be a little more forgiving of poor roads.
The ‘comfort’ suspension setting takes the edge off sharp bumps, and suits urban driving. But it does feel a little floaty when speeds rise. We found the ‘normal’ setting a good compromise, while ‘sport’ mode was slightly too stiff.
For the most part, the Passat is quiet at speed, but road noise is quite pronounced over coarse surfaces. The engine isn’t the quietest, either. It settles down at a steady speed, but is rather gruff when accelerating. The Passat GTE plug-in hybrid powertrain is smoother and quieter.
Again, most of the observations you might make about any other Passat can be made of the Alltrack. Luggage space is reduced very slightly, but few will complain.
A capacity of 639 litres with the seats upright makes this one of the largest estate cars on sale. Four load-restraining hooks and a 12V socket add to the practicality.
Most Passats only come with a full-size spare as an optional extra. The Alltrack is the only model in the range which has one as standard.
There’s lots of space for people as well as luggage. Legroom is very generous in the back, so tall adults can travel in comfort. Build quality is good, although the cabin might be a bit conservative for some tastes.
The Passat Alltrack costs a lot more than a regular Passat, although What Car?‘s research suggests very large discounts are achievable. But resale values are predicted at just 35% after three years and 36,000 miles. On the plus side, the Passat is well equipped and should be affordable to fuel. We achieved 28.4mpg while towing.
|Maximum Towing Limit
|295 lb ft