The Volkswagen Alltrack concept is a raised, all-wheel-drive station wagon, and you're correct in thinking we've seen this recipe before. The Subaru Outback is also an all-wheel-drive wagon that tries to bridge the gap between sedan and SUV. Volkswagen's take on that idea, the Alltrack concept, makes its debut at the New York auto show.
The nose of this concept car clearly resembles the rest of the American Volkswagen lineup, with a wide grille and squared headlights, but the remainder of the body is more reminiscent of the European Passat wagon. The Alltrack is quite stylish, with anodized silver roof rails, matte chrome mirror housings, as well as chrome trim strips for the grille and foglights.
Fancy looks aside, Volkswagen asserts that its Alltrack is at home away from paved roads, thanks to a suspension that is raised 1.2 inches, 4Motion all-wheel drive, and steel skid plate at the front and rear of the car. It also has bulky bumpers and rugged lips around the car and wheel arches, a look that reminds us of the aforementioned Subarus. Power comes from the familiar turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-four diesel engine, which makes 140 hp and 236 lb-ft of torque. It's coupled to a six-speed DSG dual-clutch transmission.
A special off-road driving mode, which works at speeds up to 18 mph, alters various driving parameters to make the Alltrack more at home on rough terrain. The ABS threshold is increased to allow for better stopping on loose surfaces, and the all-wheel-drive system's differentials lock more rapidly. Off-road mode also makes the throttle response more gradual and delays transmission upshifts. When driving down grades that are steeper than 10 percent, Hill Descent Assist automatically applies the brakes to reduce the Alltrack's speed.
Despite the loose family resemblance, the Alltrack isn't based on the Passat, and Volkswagen says there are no plans to put the Alltrack concept into production. Instead, the concept car serves as a way for Volkswagen to see how the public might receive a similar vehicle in the future. If response at the auto show is positive, the company could develop some sort of rugged station wagon like the concept car.
Should the Alltrack become a production car in the future, we might expect it to fit in size-wise between the Jetta SportWagen and the Passat sedan. Combining the efficiency of a diesel engine, the grip of all-wheel drive, and the practicality of a wagon body style could make for an incredibly practical and utilitarian car.