Even with the added weight of its standard four-wheel drive, the 2.0-litre diesel with 187bhp still feels particularly strong. It pulls well from low revs and makes for easy progress along motorways or country roads, even with a full load. It’s not particularly refined, though, and sounds a little strained at higher revs. It doesn’t bring any additional towing capacity, but even so, its potential to drag a 2200kg braked trailer should be enough for a big caravan or trailer and is more than a Skoda Octavia Estate Scout or BMW 3 Series Touring can pull.
It comes exclusively with a six-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox that proves smooth in the majority of situations, only hesitating if you ask for a sudden burst of pace, such as when quickly inserting yourself into a gap in the traffic at a roundabout.
The handling is much the same as the regular Passat but the Alltrack has a raised ride height of 27.5mm and is set up with a focus on comfort. So far we’ve only tried an Alltrack with the optional adaptive dampers – Dynamic Chassis Control in VW speak – that provide a relaxed, if slightly floaty, gait in Comfort mode, a bit more body control in Normal mode and good resistance to body lean in Sport.
Only over particularly craggy roads does the Alltrack become fidgety, although the optional 19in wheels of our test car won’t have helped. Whichever mode you pick, the handling is safe and secure but not at all exciting. That said, the slightly numb steering is precise and it isn’t at all unpleasant to drive. As for off-road ability, it copes well with slippery surfaces but its limited ground clearance and road-biased tyres mean it’s better suited to broken road surfaces than serious cross-country expeditions.