2012 Volkswagen Passat Alltrack

We're pretty fond of the 2012 Volkswagen Passat, and we aren't alone. But for all of the vehicle's merits, there are a few of our favorite options missing from the American order sheet. For starters, buyers in the land of the free can't bring home a long-roof version of the mid-sizer, and all-wheel drive is nowhere to found either. These absences are made all the more painful by the fact that European buyers can snag this, the new 2012 Passat Alltrack. The vehicle is set to debut at this year's Tokyo Motor Show and boasts the Volkswagen 4Motion all-wheel drive system as well as a taller ride height for overcoming rough terrain and deep snow.

That smell? It's just the noxious fumes of envy wafting through the internet.

Volkswagen has thrown in a set of flared fender arches as well as revised front and rear bumpers. Under normal operation, the Passat Alltrack kicks 90 percent of the engine's power to the front axles, though 100 percent of the grunt can be shifted to the rear tires if need be. In the UK, buyers may chose between two variants of the German automaker's 2.0-liter TDI four-cylinder engine. Hit the jump for the full press release.
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RUGGED PASSAT ALLTRACK COVERS NEW GROUND FOR VOLKSWAGEN

Volkswagen has today released the first images of the new Passat Alltrack, which is making its world debut at the Tokyo Motor Show next week, ahead of its introduction to the market in early 2012.

Based on the popular and versatile Passat Estate, the Passat Alltrack adds 4MOTION four-wheel drive and a raised ride height that give it greater agility off-road, along with stylish body enhancements that also provide some protection from scrapes when covering rough terrain. These include stainless steel-look front and rear underbody protection panels and flared side sills. Other features include matt chrome roof rails, window surrounds, grille and exterior mirror casings.

At 4,771 mm, the Passat Alltrack is exactly the same length as the Passat Estate, and despite flared wheel arch protection the vehicle's width also remains the same at 1,820 mm. The suspension is raised to increase ground clearance from 135 to 165 mm, which also improves the ramp breakaway angle (significant when crossing the crest of a hill) from 9.5 to 12.8 degrees. Ruggedly styled front and rear bumpers increase the approach angle from 13.5 to 16 degrees, and the departure angle from 11.9 to 13.6 degrees.

As with other Volkswagen vehicles featuring 4MOTION, on the Passat Alltrack the front axle is usually driven, with only 10 per cent of propulsive power going to the rear axle. This saves on fuel. If necessary, almost 100 per cent of power can be sent to the rear axle, through use of an electrohydraulic Haldex clutch.

The Passat Alltrack also features an off-road mode, similar to that on the Tiguan Escape. When switched on (via a dashboard-mounted button), this activates hill descent assist, which automatically brakes the vehicle when the descent angle is greater than 10 degrees. The ABS function is also altered, with higher thresholds for operation on loose surfaces, along with faster-reacting electronic differential locks (EDS) to prevent wheelspin. For vehicles fitted with DSG dual-clutch transmission, the shift pattern is also altered when off-road mode is engaged, with higher shift points to give more power, a flatter and easier to manage accelerator pedal movement and no automatic upshifting in manual mode.

In the UK, the Passat Alltrack will be available as a 2.0-litre TDI 140 PS with six-speed manual gearbox or a 2.0-litre TDI 170 PS with six-speed DSG transmission. Standard equipment will include Alcantara upholstery, 2Zone electronic climate control, cruise control, tyre pressure monitoring system, MDI iPod connectivity, Bluetooth telephone preparation and 18-inch alloys.

Retailers in the UK are expected to start taking orders for the new car in April, with first deliveries scheduled for July. More details including pricing will be available nearer the launch date. For more information on the Volkswagen range visit www.volkswagen.co.uk.