Four-wheel-drive estates like the Volkswagen Passat Alltrack are something of a niche, but it’s a niche worth exploring for tow car drivers. As a rule, you get the all-weather ability of an SUV, but with more luggage space and lower running costs.
In the case of the Passat Alltrack, it tows well, too. The 177PS version of VW’s familiar 2.0-litre diesel provides plenty of go, hauling car and caravan from town speeds to the motorway limit in 12.4 seconds.
The VW feels solid on the motorway. It’s not quite the immovable object in crosswinds that the Land Rover Freelander seems to be, but we certainly had no nervous moments towing in gusty weather.
In the lane-change test, the Alltrack didn’t quite have the grip of the two Jaguars, but it still took firm charge of the caravan. The hill start also posed no real challenge because the electronic parking brake and Direct Shift Gearbox (DSG) made the driver’s life easy.
It’s disappointing that the Passat Alltrack has a space-saver spare rather than a full-size wheel and tyre like the regular Passat Estate, but something has to give so that power can be sent to the rear wheels as well as the fronts. It is permissible to use it when towing. There’s lots of luggage space, though, which contributes to a healthy score from our practicality testers.