The Road Ahead : June 2013
ROADAHEAD.COM.AU 52 THE ROAD AHEAD JUN/JUL 2013 MOTORING | NEW CAR REVIEW VOLKSWAGEN IS ANOTHER of the Euro marques offering buyers a 'crossover' style vehicle, derived from one of their existing passenger models, as an alternative to the typical SUV design. Based on the standard Passat wagon, AllTrack includes under-body protection, wheel-arch flares, improved ground clearance and approach/departure angles. VW's 4Motion all-wheel-drive system, a selectable off-road driving program and increased maximum towing capacity of 1800kg are other enhancements. Accessing those slightly more remote picnic or camping areas, plus other similarly mild-mannered off-road excursions are possible, but it drives like any normal family wagon. vw passat alltrack 2.0 tdi wagon KEY STATS MLP: $47,790^ SAFETY: Dual front/front and rear outer side/curtain airbags, electronic stability/traction control, anti- lock brakes, electronic brakeforce distribution, brake assist. KEY FEATURES: Dual-zone climate- control, 17" alloys, auto stop/start system, cruise control, bluetooth, CD, fog lights, leather trim, navigation, rear view camera and park sensors, power tailgate, tyre pressure monitoring, heated front seats. ENGINE: 2.0-litre, common-rail turbo-diesel, 4-cyl. MAX. POWER: 130kW @ 4700rpm. MAX. TORQUE: 380Nm @ 1750- 2500rpm. 0-100 KM/H: 8.7sec (claimed). 80 KM/H-STOP: N/A. FUEL (ADR FIGURE): 6.3 litres/100km. ANCAP CRASH RATING: N/A. EMISSIONS RATING: FOR: Good handling, safety features and options, cheaper than Audi A4 AllRoad. AGAINST: Initial turbo-lag, gearbox low-speed jerkiness, temporary-use spare. ^MANUFACTURER'S LIST PRICE. REVIEWS BY BARRY GREEN AND JOHN EWING. IF A TEST of a car's ability to stand out is people taking photos as you pass by, then the Abarth 500 Esseesse (pronounced 'S.S'.) passes with flying colours. A racy body kit, 12-spoke 17" alloys, signature stripes and those tiny scorpion badges make a visual statement. But it is what's under the skin that lets this sporty version of Fiat's tiny 500 walk the talk. With some 44kW more power than the standard 500, and maximum torque of 230Nm is on tap at the flick of a 'Sport' button, straight-line performance is relatively brisk. But more impressive is the Esseesse's handling competence and grip levels that allow maximum momentum along a twisty, serpentine back road to be maintained. Some of this is due to smart electronics, such as a Torque Transfer Control that acts much like a limited slip differential, but much can be attributed to the well- sorted suspension. For every action there's a reaction, however, and the same stiff springs and damping and low clearance make for a harsh ride over our rougher roads. At $7000 more than arch-rival VW Polo GTi, the Abarth is no bargain buy, but it is way, way more visible and individual. Inside, a thick rimmed, grippy flat bottomed steering wheel, leather bound gear knob, sports seats and aluminium trimmed pedals all add to the sporty ambiance. abarth 500 esseesse KEY STATS MLP: $34,990^ SAFETY: Dual front/side/curtain airbags, driver's knee airbag, anti- lock brakes, electronic brakeforce distribution, brake assist, electronic stability control, traction control. KEY FEATURES: Remote central locking, immobiliser, tyre pressure monitor, hill holder, climate-control airconditioning, cloth sports seats, MP3 compatible CD player with amp and subwoofer, bluetooth, USB/ auxiliary input, rear spoiler, side skirts, 17" alloys, alloy pedals. ENGINE: 1.4-litre, turbo-petrol, 4-cyl. MAX. POWER: 118kW @ 5500rpm. MAX. TORQUE: 230Nm @ 2750rpm (Sport mode). 0-100 KM/H: 7.4 sec (claimed). 80 KM/H-STOP: N/A. FUEL (ADR FIGURE): 6.5 litres/100km. ANCAP CRASH RATING: (Fiat 500). EMISSIONS RATING: FOR: Presence, safety inventory, nimble handling. AGAINST: Price, harsh ride, poor turning circle. Under most conditions, the 2.0-litre turbo-diesel delivers sufficiently robust performance. Some initial turbo-lag off the line, and jerkiness of the standard six-speed DSG gearbox at very low speeds, are the only blemishes on its good character. An engine upgrade in April boosted power and torque to the outputs shown in the adjacent panel; that's an extra 5kW of power and 30Nm of torque. AllTrack's ride feels taut but still comfortable over most road surfaces, though rougher tracks and larger potholes at times produce some unpleasant thumps. Above-average dynamics, good grip levels and accurate steering make driving the Alltrack a pleasant experience.