Alltrack will give Subaru a run for its off-road money

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ANYTHING Audi can do, Volkswagen can do cheaper. It is all about image and perception and the implied need to keep customers thinking they need to pay more for an Audi.

Seen here is the Passat Alltrack, VW’s in-house alternative to an Audi A4 Allroad. Just one trim level is available in the UK, with a choice from a 2.0-litre 138bhp diesel with six-speed manual gearbox, priced at £28,475 and a 2.0-litre 168bhp version with six-speed DSG transmission, at £31,025.

Standard equipment includes Alcantara upholstery, twin zone electronic climate control, touchscreen satellite navigation, DAB radio, iPod connectivity, Bluetooth telephone preparation, cruise control, front and rear parking sensors, tyre pressure monitoring and 18-inch Canyon alloy wheels. A Driver alert system that monitors the driver’s responses to raise awareness of fatigue is also standard, as is ESP.

Alltrack’s 4MOTION four-wheel drive and raised ride height give it greater ability off-road, with some added body protection from scrapes. It arrives in the shops on May 28.

One model which could lose sales to this all-terrain Passat is Subaru’s Outback, in need of a revamp. The Japanese 4x4 experts have just announced changes to the Legacy Tourer estate on which the Outback is based. The most important change is Subaru’s new Boxer diesel engine (already in Forester and XV and coming to the Outback, too).

This Euro 5-compliant flat-four engine has a more efficient turbocharger, new exhaust-camshaft timing and lighter connecting rods, and is mated with new oxidation catalytic converters and diesel particulate filter.

The result is an improvement in fuel economy of more than seven per cent, to 49.6mpg, while CO2 emissions are cut to 149g/km. The latter drops the car’s VED band to level F, saving £35 per year. Output is 145bhp and 258 lb-ft for 0-62mph in 9.6 seconds.

Suspension modifications for all 2012 Legacy models bring new bushing front and rear to improve ride comfort and new upper rear suspension arms saving 2kg per car.

Diesel prices open at £26,680.