- Well built and practical interior
- Punchy and refined engine
- Mature handling and composed ride
- Expensive to buy
- Very expensive to service
Driving the updatedÂ 2021 Volkswagen Passat Alltrack was refreshing, cathartic. After the sea of SUVs we go through here at DiscoverAuto, the idea a large, technologically advanced and classy wagon seemed very appealing indeed. It’s no secret that we love wagons here. They’re super practical, comfy and great to drive. With cars as good as this Passat Alltrack, who needs a Volkswagen Tiguan SUV?
The Passat Alltrack managed be both charming day to day, and immensely capable during our short stint with it. From urban duties, a freeway run down the Mornington Peninsula to some gravel roads out of Melbourne, the Alltrack proved to be one of the more memorable cars we have driven so far this year. Was it all smooth sailing for this wagon however? Not entirely sadly. Read on to find out why the 2021 Volkswagen Passat Alltrack isn’t perfect.
Price and Specs: 7.5/10
The standard 2021 Volkswagen Passat Alltrack 162TSI is priced at $46,990 plus on-road costs, while the Premium version tested here comes in at $58,790 plus plus on-road costs. That’s quite a jump from one variant to another, but it does mean the Premium comes absolutely loaded with everything Volkswagen could find.
Standard equipment on this Volkswagen Passat Alltrack 162 TSI Premium includes 19-inch alloy wheels, a 9.2-inch multimedia system, digital dials, a full leather interior with lovely ‘Vienna’ leather, heated, cooled and massaging front seats, tri-zone climate control, a panoramic sunroof, an electric tailgate with kick-to-open functionality, tinted rear windows, and a Harmon Kardon audio system. You also have fancy mood lighting which allows you to pick from 30 colours for the interior. Fancy!
Safety equipment is also plentiful with nine airbags, auto emergency braking (AEB) with pedestrian detection, lane keeping assistance with lane trace assist, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, auto rear braking, front and rear parking sensors, a 360-degree parking camera, adaptive cruise control with stop and go functionality, driver fatigue monitoring, automatic parking and emergency assist, which will slowly and safety stop the car if the driver becomes unresponsive.
One part of the spec sheet is so special that it warrants a section all to itself: the Matrix LED headlights. These are simply incredible at night. The headlights have 61 LEDs each and work in tandem with the front camera is able to detect oncoming vehicles and road conditions to switch individual LEDs on and off. The end result? You’re able to drive around with high beam on and the car makes sure that you don’t dazzle any oncoming traffic.
With SUVs stealing the limelight these days, wagons have become a dying breed. Luckily, the Passat Alltrack still has a few rivals. The Subaru Outback in equivalent top-spec Touring comes in at $47,790, a Volvo V60 wagon costs $57,990, and the Skoda Superb Scout (which is the same car underneath as the Volkswagen Passat) costs $63,990. Another worthy competitor is the Mazda6 which we recently drove and were very impressed with.
Performance & Economy: 9/10
This 2021 Volkswagen Passat Alltrack comes with a beefy 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo-petrol engine pumping out 162kW and 350Nm of torque. This is plenty of grunt for a mid-size wagon and pushes you back into the seat nicely. The engine is shared with other VW Group products and is a familiar face under the bonnet of this Passat. We love it for its smoothness, flexibility and top end power. This is one of the world’s great four-cylinder engines and it matches the Passat beautifully. With peak torque available from 1,400rpm, this engine feels lively no matter where or how you drive it.
The 2021 Volkswagen Passat Alltrack sends its power to the road through a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission and the ‘4Motion’ all-wheel drive system. The gearbox shifts smoothly, with some characteristic DSG lag when moving off and the occasional quirk. Overall though, we have to say the powertrain is pretty faultless, working well both around town and beautifully on the open road. The all-wheel drive system shuffles power quickly to the wheel with the most grip imperceptibly, giving the Alltrack some great grip in tricky conditions.
The 2021 Volkswagen Passat Alltrack is officially rated at 8.1 L/100km on the combined cycle. We averaged around 10L/100km over a week of driving in varied conditions, a reasonable result for a swift mid-size AWD wagon, though we wish that the former 140TDI 2.0-litre turbo diesel engine option was offered locally. The Passat Alltrack requires 95 RON unleaded fuel and has a handily large 66-litre fuel tank.
Ride & Handling: 8/10
This is one area where any wagon will easily trump an SUV and the Passat showed just how enjoyable driving can truly be. Even with its large 19-inch alloys wrapped in Pirelli P7 Cinturato tyres, the Passat was both comfortable to drive and engaging.
No matter the what surface we drove on, the Passat remained hushed and comfortable. Granted, the large alloys allow some sharper bumps to be felt, but the Passat made easy work of long freeway journeys and inner city streets. Handling was very impressive, with reassuring grip and a chassis tuned to flatter even the worst driver.
The Passat Alltrack turns in nicely, holds its line and exists corners quickly thanks to its AWD system. It might not be the most fun car to drive on account of its numb steering, but it sure does a lot right, with a mature and composed feel in its road manners.
Interior & Practicality: 8.5/10
The 2021 Volkswagen Passat Alltrack Premium has a beautifully crafted cabin, with quality materials and rather premium feel to the design. Everything feels built to last, with a germanic solidity. From the brushed aluminium dashboard trims to the mood lighting at night, the Passat’s interior is a pleasant place to spend time in.
Up front, the seats are super supportive and wrapped in supple white leather. The seats might not be as cosseting as in a hot hatch, but they provide firm bolstering and plenty of adjustment. Oh and did we mention that they’re heated and ventilated with massage functionality too? The party up front continues with a low-slung driving position, fully customisable and clear digital dials, along with plenty of space for loose odds and ends. The door bins are lined with felt and can take large drink bottles. The steering wheel features Volkswagen’s new logo and really looks the part, feeling great in the hand.
Jumping into the back seats reveals tonnes of knee and headroom, as well as two USB-C ports, controls for the rear air vents, along with cup holders in the fold down centre armrest. The Passat Alltrack Premium also features sunshades to keep the sun off kids’ faces in summer.
The boot comes with a generous 650-litres of cargo space, or 1780L with the rear seats is folded. The space is simply cavernous, and a full size tyre is found under the boor floor. This is where wagons come into their own, offering a long load bay and unsurpassed load carrying capacity. There’s also a power tailgate, as well as large storage areas on either side of the boot, together with shopping bag hooks.
Running Costs & Warranty: 7/10
The 2021 Volkswagen Passat Alltrack comes with an industry standard five year and unlimited kilometre warranty.
Servicing is on the expensive side but Volkswagen offers three- or five-year service packs when purchasing the car. A three-year service pack costs $1,300 while five years comes in at $2,400 or $480 per yearly or 15,000km visit. It’s a good idea to purchase one of these as the 2021 Volkswagen Passat Alltrack will cost a whopping $3,493 over the first five years/75,000km to service. The 60,000km service alone will set you back a massive $1,474.
Volkswagen Passat Alltrack Premium DiscoverAuto Rating: 8.0/10
What’s not to love about the 2021 Volkswagen Passat Alltrack Premium? It’s spacious, fun to drive, beautifully built and can still wade through puddles. In many ways, it’s the perfect SUV antidote, and for that we love it. It’s pricing is a tad on the high side, and it could do with cheaper servicing but it is a very well sorted and complete car.
If you’re looking at a Volkswagen Tiguan, check out the Passat Alltrack too. Its charms might just temp you away from an SUV and into a very accomplished Germanic wagon. Is it the perfect wagon however? Not exactly. But is the 2021 Volkswagen Passat Alltrack a great wagon? Absolutely. Its talents run deep and it deserves to be at the top of any shopping list.