Volkswagen does not only build cars with immense workmanship and quality, they also offer cars which are totally practical, sturdy, yet timelessly elegant and donned with a touch of luxury. Such a car is this Passat Alltrack. It offers the practicality of a station wagon, has a frugal and smooth diesel, has state of the art electronics, driving aids and infotainment, and last but not least permanent four wheel drive. Ready for everyday duty on forest roads, but also fit for shopping on the Berliner Kurfürstendamm or any (posh) boulevard in this whole wide world…just read on.
Hans Knol ten Bensel
We already applauded the Passat styling in these columns, and we are indeed quite fond of the well balanced proportions, the clear, no frills angular styling language and horizontal straight lines. It evokes a timeless harmony, with the basic station wagon shape and proportions helping of course to produce a design which is pleasing from any angle.
Add to this the attention to detail, the impeccable finish and paint quality for instance, and you understand why this Passat scores very high indeed. Our test car this time was rather boldly colored in Habanero Orange…
In the cabin we find the same “savoir faire” and VW group know how in designing and building a practical and pleasing dashboard and interior. This Passat carries the new digital instrument cluster, with variable size dials and map information visible even between the instrument dials, straight into your line of vision.
A very logical and perfect setup, which is finding many adepts. Personally, we would have liked a more classic design of the lettering and indicating needles, but for VW it is of course important to find an efficient design, which will please most.
It was also a matter of using the available instrument cluster space to cram in as much information as possible, and indeed within the instrument space one finds detailed map information, average consumption together with instant consumption, gear indicator, digital speed indication, all this combined with analog indication of revs and speed, and all that is no small feat.
We are very fond of the no nonsense lay-out of center console and navigation and infotainment commands and controls in the middle of the dashboard, which are logical and for VW drivers totally familiar. Indeed, VW has succeeded in establishing its own, intelligent and ergonomic solutions to drive and use its cars throughout its model range.
Smooth and frugal…
Under the bonnet lives familiar VW technology. The well proven 2 liter unit develops 110 Kw or 150 HP over a rather wide rev range between 3500 and 4000 rpm, with vibrationless refinement.
Indeed, the insulation from any harshness of the engine is exemplary, and really shows how the VW group has honed to perfection its drivetrain and platform technology. It develops very nice pulling power, indeed peak torque being not less than 340 Nm over a rather wide rev range between 1750 and 3000 rpm. The performance figures amply show this, with acceleration from 0 to 100 km in merely 9,2 seconds, and a top speed of 205 kmh.
The unit is very docile and flexible, and will pull from very low revs onwards, and as said, VW has succeeded in eliminating vibrations almost totally.
This is ideal for anticipative, “zen” driving in urban traffic, where you will be rewarded with very good consumption figures.
Consumption is indeed excellent, as we have seen many times over from all VW diesel units. There is of course the gearchange indicator to help you, and soon you get the hang of it, and you will be able to play it, so to say, by ear.
The manufacturer quotes a consumption of 5,9 liter/100 km for urban driving, with 4,9 liters/100 km for the combined cycle.
In fact it is no problem, even with rather brisk driving, to achieve consumption figures around the 6 liter/100 km mark. But there is more, the instant fuel consumption indicator lets you choose carefully the best engine revs and throttle position which keeps fuel consumption really down. When “playing this game” with some concentration, we achieved over the distance Brussels/Antwerp in heavy evening traffic with four kilometers of very slow stop-and-go traffic a consumption as low as 4,6 liters/100 km, flowing along with the dense traffic over the whole 50 km distance. No small feat for a station wagon with permanent 4WD!
The six speed gearbox is ideally geared for this engine, and gearchanges are slick and precise, with also the clutch being smooth and progressive in its takeup.
This means, as we said earlier, that this manual Passat Alltrack also feels much in its element in slow urban traffic, and it is a breeze to drive at crawling speeds.
As you can expect, Autobahn driving is were VW’s truly excel, and this Passat is no exception. High cruising speeds are something these cars are built for, and they are an exquisite joy to take on long, fast motorway trips.
State of the art chassis and handling
Platform and suspension technology are of course of the highest order in the VW group cars, and this Passat corners with verve and precision.
The handling is indeed beyond any reproach, and there is pleasure to be had when you take this Passat for a dynamic drive over curvy country roads.
Needless to say that the Alltrack 4WD system delivers surefootedness on slippery and snowy roads, and this Passat is indeed fit to be your faithful companion when work or pleasure takes you (daily) outdoors and (often) off the beaten path.
A Passat station wagon needs above all to be sturdy and practical, and also here this VW delivers.
Rear leg room is ample, and the same is true for the vast luggage area. With the rear seat fully folded down not less than 1769 liters is available, but even with the rear backrests upright, this Passat still leaves you with 639 liters of available luggage space.
The loading floor is of course completely flat, and there is no unpleasant ridge forcing you to lift heavy luggage.
There is enough room in the wide door bins to tuck away things you need at hand, and there is of course the centre console, where you can tuck away your iPhone, stream its music through the excellent sound system, “Dynaudio Confidence”, consisting of not less than 10 channels, a subwoofer, 10 speakers and not less than 700 W of music power…
Parking and driving our Passat Alltrack also proved a breeze, thanks to the Side Assist and Lane Assist, with also camera help allowing a full 360 degree view of the car’s surroundings. Life in the cabin was also more pleasant thanks to the panoramic open roof.
A well designed and built quality car, performing beautifully and being also quite frugal. It is a daily returning pleasure to feel and enjoy its precision and workmanship, to feel the refinement of the engine, gearbox, the smoothness of the drivetrain, the agility and comfort of its handling, suspension and chassis.
One also enjoys the electronic displays, the well centered driver info, the comfort of the well contoured, firm seats, the abundant space and the quality feel of the upholstery and panel coverings. Last but not least there is the 3 zone well-tempered climatronic heating/ventilation system to pamper you…into a long lasting fine relationship with your four wheeled companion.
Hans Knol ten Bensel