With the clocks going back an hour and temperatures dropping a few degrees it’s hard not to notice that Winter is in its way. Now normally this would be a great excuse to stock up on your favorite Merlot and start hunting down comfort foods and soups. The TV becomes a more viable pastime and thoughts of hibernation cross your mind. Volkswagen have just loaned me an alternative.
With its greater ground clearance and 4Motion four wheel drive drivetrain; getting behind the wheel of the new Passat Alltrack means I can now get off the beaten track and head off road – Mud and snow rejoice.
It has all the looks and poise of the car that made it ‘car of the year’ and the model I had was a real statement in metallic Habanero Orange and sitting on 19” alloys. LED head lights, parallel lined grille, front fogs and chromed bling highlights under the bumper. Chrome roof racks break up the long roofline and although it’s nearly 4.8m in length it doesn’t look (or feel) that large. Storage space is huge as expected and even more so with the seats down (1.769L) – perfect for nigh on every outdoor adventure and it has a 2.2 tonne towing capacity.
Under the stylish bonnet is a 2L Turbo Diesel that happily gives you 400Nm of torque at 1900 rpm and 140kW’s at 3,600. 0-100 is 8 seconds – ok so it’s not a racing track vehicle but it by no way feels sluggish. Top speed is 220kph and with its 6 speed DSG auto box it will give you a fuel efficiency of 5.2L/100 – when I picked it up it had a range prediction of around 1,000k’s!
The interior is spacious and offers up durable and practical trim with leather and chrome accents. The Parallel track theme continues along the whole length of the dash and subtly incorporates the AC vents. One thing I noticed (especially when driving) was that the buttons for Start/Stop, Driving mode and traction control, are on the wrong side of the track – you have to peer over the gear stick to find and select each of them. A throw back to left hand drive production I’m sure but there is room for them on the driver’s side – picky aren’t I.
Infotainment comes to you by way of a colour touch screen and phone connection is easy. 8 speakers fill the cabin with sound and of course has USB etc to happily play your favorite tracks (Tracks of my tears maybe?). Flicking through the various menus, I came across the Off Road and vehicle engine settings – they both display dials on the screen that are real time and interactive – Turbo bar, gradient, compass etc fun around the town but needed out in the wilderness.
It obviously has all the safety equipment you could desire and I did like the lane keep assist function. It actually moves the Alltrack back into line should you begin to venture over the white line without indicating, it is a little unnerving at first (and will sound an alarm if done more than a couple of times) but it is a safe way to keep you on track.
The Passat Alltrack drives well, it’s comfortable and spacious. It has all the beeps and camera displays (including tracking grids) for tight city spaces and is competent enough to give you confidence to get down and dirty to use in the mud ruts and mountain trails off the beaten track. Taking it under my wing for a week has certainly given me the impetus to break free from the spell that the couch has over me – this year will be my year for adventure – I think it’s time to make tracks to the local sports shop.
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