- - Thursday, December 1, 2011

Over the past four decades, well over 15 million Passat cars have been built. Along with its favourable all-round qualities, the success of the bestseller - which is sold on all of the world’s continents - can be attributed to the Passat’s wide and diverse range of versions.

Now, Volkswagen is extending the model series with another specialist: the Passat Alltrack. This new version is offered in an estate car configuration, and it closes the gap between the conventional Passat Estate and SUVs such as the Tiguan. The rationale here: many car drivers who use their car as a towing vehicle, or in light off-road situations, want a versatile, sporty and very roomy passenger car that has rugged qualities. Volkswagen developed the Passat Alltrack for this clientele. In comparison with the familiar Passat Estate, the new model is defined by new bumpers in SUV style - with wheel well and side sill flares. Its greater off-road ramp angle, approach angle, departure angle and higher ground clearance all make the Passat Alltrack an excellent SUV alternative for driving on unpaved track. The Alltrack will debut in a world premiere at the Tokyo Motor Show starting tomorrow until mid December; market launch for the new versatile Alltrack begins in early 2012.

Drive Versions

Two turbocharged direct injection petrol engines (TSI) with 118 kW / 160 PS and 155 kW / 210 PS and two turbodiesels (TDI) - also with direct injection - with 103 kW / 140 PS and 125 kW / 170 PS are available in the Passat Alltrack. The two most powerful Alltrack versions, the 170 PS TDI and the 210 PS TSI, have standard 4MOTION all-wheel drive and a dual clutch transmission (DSG). For the Passat Alltrack with a 140 PS TDI, Volkswagen will offer all-wheel drive as an option. Just how efficiently the engines of the Passat Alltrack operate together with the intelligently controlled 4MOTION all-wheel drive system is illustrated by the two TDI engines: the 140 PS version has a low combined fuel consumption of 5.7* l/100 km (equivalent to 150* g/km CO2), while fuel consumption for the 170 PS version is 5.8* l/100 km (152* g/km CO2).

Visual Modifications

Good styling always visually reflects a car’s conceptual parameters. In the case of the Passat Alltrack, these include the vehicle’s much more versatile performance parameters for driving on rough terrain than would be found on a conventional estate car. The declared goal of the designers was to reflect this competence with very functional styling. In the area of the side profile, for example, the mentioned classic wheel housings and side sill flares are used, which are functionally oriented and offer rugged protection. The elements do not simply have the appearance of being tacked onto one another, rather they are harmoniously integrated into the Passat’s overall design. The same applies to the new design of the bumpers. Firstly, they show greater volume and are very rugged in construction; secondly, they completely fit in with the styling of the Passat. In interplay with the higher ground clearance and the underbody protection panels in stainless steel look that are integrated front and rear, this projects an overall image that creates a link between the passenger car and SUV worlds.

Dimensions in Detail

At a length of 4,771 mm, the Passat Alltrack is exactly as long as the Passat Estate. Despite the wheel housing flares, its width remained identical at 1,820 mm. A comparison of key data for off-road use is of interest: compared to the Passat Estate, ground clearance was increased by 135 to 165 mm. The front approach angle was increased from 13.5 to 16 degrees; in the rear, the departure angle was increased from 11.9 to 13.6 degrees. No less important in off-road use is the ramp breakaway angle which is important in crossing the crest of a hill; here, the value was improved from 9.5 to 12.8 degrees.

Off-Road Driving Program

Volkswagen SUV drivers are familiar with the ‘off-road driving program’ on the Tiguan and Touareg. For the first time at Volkswagen, this clever, multifunctional system is being transferred to a passenger car in the Passat Alltrack (control range up to a maximum of 30 km/h). The driver activates this program by pressing an Off-road button on the centre console. An LED symbol in the instrument cluster indicates when the system is ‘active’. Specifically, the settings for the safety and driver assistance systems and DSG control were modified as follows:

Safety systems: The anti-lock braking system (ABS) is now characterised by higher thresholds for control intervals; on loose road surfaces, such as gravel, a wedge of road substrate is formed in front of the tires to decelerate the vehicle even more effectively. At the same time, the electronic differential locks (EDS) react quicker to prevent wheelspin at individual wheels. The engine’s torque control (ASR) is modified in parallel.

Driver assistance systems: Hill descent assist is automatically activated at a descent angle greater than 10 degrees; it brakes the Passat Alltrack. Meanwhile functions of the optional adaptive cruise control (ACC) and Front Assist are deactivated.

Dual clutch transmission: A flatter accelerator pedal characteristic makes it easier to meter engine power in off-road situations. At the same time, gear shift points are raised, automatically giving the driver a higher engine rpm and therefore more power to work with. If the DSG selection lever is switched to the manual shift gate, the transmission no longer upshifts automatically. The Stop/Start system and freewheeling are also deactivated.

4MOTION All-Wheel Drive

The two top engines (170 PS TDI and 210 PS TSI) are delivered with 4MOTION all-wheel drive as standard. For the Passat Alltrack with 140 PS TDI, the innovative all-wheel drive system is available as an option. Normally, the front axle is the primary drive axle in the Passat Alltrack 4MOTION; the rear axle only gets ten percent of the drive torque. This saves on fuel. The rear axle may be gradually engaged step by step depending on the specific driving and road situation. This is done via an electro-hydraulic all-wheel coupling. The advantage of the electronics: no engine speed differences are necessary between the front and rear axles to activate the all-wheel drive coupling, because pressure is built up via an electric pump.

Alltrack Standard Features

Passat Alltrack features: Along with the Off-road driving program, modified chassis and body modifications, the Passat Alltrack is characterised by a whole series of specific feature details. These include the new ‘Valley’ type 17-inch alloy wheels (new ‘Canyon’ type 18-inch wheels are another option) and a tire pressure monitoring indicator. Trimmed in ‘Matt chrome’ on the Passat Alltrack are the roof rails, window surrounds, door mirror housings and radiator grille. Standard features also include front and rear underbody protection in stainless steel look, fog lights, stainless steel door sill plates with ‘ALLTRACK’ signature, comfort seats (fabric covers) and lateral seat supports in Alcantara (colour: ‘Zabriskie black’), interior accents in ‘Titan Silver’ (with ALLTRACK signature on ashtray cover), pedals in aluminium look and automatic climate control. Other ‘ALLTRACK’ signatures are located at the front and rear of the vehicle. On the screen of the instrument cluster the new Passat also ‘greets’ its driver with the ‘ALLTRACK’ signature. Visible from exterior are the decorative chrome tailpipes.

Safety features: Of course, the Passat Alltrack has such features as six airbags, daytime running lights and the ESP electronic stabilisation program. Additional standard features: fatigue detection and trailer stabilisation with countersteering support integrated in the ESP program. Effective: automatic hazard light activation under severe braking. Ingenious: if the driver parks the Passat and unbuckles the seat belt before the engine is shut off, the electronic parking brake is automatically activated, which prevents unintentional rolling of the Volkswagen. Child-friendly: in parallel to the standard Isofix fittings for suitable child seats, the Passat Alltrack can also be ordered with two integrated child seats in the rear (for the outer seats).

Key Technologies of the Passat Alltrack in Detail

Fatigue detection: This system detects waning driver concentration and warns the driver with an acoustic signal lasting five seconds; a visual message also appears in the instrument cluster recommending that the driver take a break from driving. If the driver does not take a break within the next 15 minutes, the warning is repeated once. It works like this: at the beginning of each car trip, the system analyses the driver’s characteristic steering behaviour. Underway, the fatigue detection system then continually evaluates signals such as steering angle, use of the pedals and transverse acceleration. If monitored parameters indicate a deviation from the steering behaviour recorded at the beginning of the trip, then visual and acoustic warnings are produced. Independent of this monitoring, whenever the system is activated it recommends a driving break to the driver after four hours of continuous driving.

Park Assist, Generation II: In contrast to first generation systems, which only supported parking parallel to the carriageway, the latest parking assistant also assists in perpendicular parking i.e. at right angles to the driving lane. The system is activated at speeds up to 40 km/h by pressing a button on the centre console. The driver indicates the side of the carriageway for parking by activating the indicator for that side. As soon as Park Assist detects a sufficiently large parking space utilizing its ultrasonic sensors assisted parking can begin: The driver engages reverse gear and then only needs to accelerate and brake. The Alltrack handles the steering. The driver is assisted by acoustic and visual cues on the multifunction display. While parking, Park Assist reduces vehicle speed to seven km/h. For the first time, this system can also actively brake the car if a collision is about to occur. Nonetheless, the driver remains responsible for braking, since the new braking function of Park Assist cannot guarantee that damage will be prevented in all cases.

Variable Cargo Space of the Passat Alltrack

The cargo capacity of the Alltrack’s bootspace when loaded to the lower edge of the windows is 603 litres. When the space giant is fully utilised, including the 90 litre spare wheel well, cargo capacity is 1,731 litres in this case, the Passat Alltrack is loaded up to the roofliner and to the backrests of the front seats. A cargo net barrier may be mounted behind the first seating row and/or behind the second seating row to prevent luggage from entering the passenger space when braking.

Variable cargo floor: The optional movable cargo floor can be variably shifted forwards or backwards within the area of the loading surface. This makes it easy to stow heavy objects directly behind the backrest of the rear seats. The cargo floor may be loaded with up to 100 kg in weight; it is also easy to remove completely with a simple hand pull. In addition, Volkswagen will also be offering a cargo space divider pack for the Passat Alltrack. This space divider is a cargo floor that can be set upright to artificially divide the cargo space so that smaller luggage pieces do not slide through the bootspace. In front-wheel drive versions, the pack also includes storage bins in the spare wheel well for small items.

Remote unlatching of the rear bench backrest: No less practical is the remote unlatching of the rear bench backrest. Levers mounted in the trim on the right and left sides of the boot make it easy to unlatch the left and/or right section of the 1/3 to 2/3 split backrest so that it can fold forward in a controlled way.

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