The All-New Volkswagen Passat Review

In Car Reviews, Volkswagen by Tom Scanlan

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Busy, busy, busy…that’s the motor industry. While there may be a deluge of rain outside your house just now, there’s sure a deluge of brand-new cars piling into the show-rooms.

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Volkswagen are high up in this chart and their latest Passat is actually the eighth generation of when VW introduced the name in 1973.

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It’s a completely new car and the range is more efficient in diesel and petrol consumption and boasts up to 14% cleaner exhausts. Some of this thanks to a weight-saving of up to a huge 85 kilograms.


No new car is launched without plenty of attractive ‘buy me’ features, whether these are standard or optional extras.

In the new Passat, you find plenty of space; the car is actually slightly shorter than the previous version, but the wheelbase is about eighty millinmetres longer and, because it is also a bit lower and a bit wider, there’s more leg and elbow room. Head-room is better, too, because the seats have been lowered. Luggage space has been increased and the boots in both cars are usefully-flat; it’s an idea to study the handbook to find out how the removable floor works and how to put the cover (in the estate version) out of the way underneath it. It’s not otherwise exactly obvious.

Volkswagen are introducing the new range only with diesel power. The engines range from a 1.6-litre 120 PS to a 2-litre with three different power outputs: the 150PS will be what most buyers will go for, while the choice extends to a 190PS and the top-of-the-range 240PS bi-turbo. By mid-summer, there will also be a Blue Motion 1.4-litre diesel free of road tax because its emissionfigure is a mere 96 g/km.

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July sees an Alltrack estate and a plug-in hybrid arrives in Britain in October.

From the all-important safety angle, standard features include a Post-Collision Braking System; for SE trim upwards, there are Front Assist, Adaptive Cruise Control and Pre-Crash systems.

Although Passats are already quite fully equipped, amongst yet further options that will be offered later this year is the virtual instrument panel (already found in Audis); the speedometer and rev-counter, for example are able to be reduced in size. Why? Because, if satellite navigation is your main interest at some point in your journey, then the display can accommodate more of its features relevant to your needs at that time.

Have trouble parking? VW’s further-developed Park Assist takes the angst out of getting in and out of those stupidly narrow shopping spaces we so often battle with; another new one, Traffic Jam Assist, makes stop-and-go driving more comfortable and, in fact, virtually autonomous…not that we recommend having a short nap as you crawl along in a traffic jam.

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And, as an option, a ‘world-first’! Volkswagen haven’t forgotten that workhorses like the Passat might sometimes be expected to tow trailers or, of course, caravans, so here comes its Trailer-Assist system; the vital piece of technology for this is nothing more than the car’s wing mirrors; what’s more you keep your hands away from the steering wheel. This is what you do: press a switch on the dashboard to select Trailer Assist and set the relevant mirror to look directly backwards (a display shows you); then reverse slowly to the point at which you need to turn; stop here; set the mirror again so it can ‘see’ where you want the trailer to go and drive in – again, no hands. Job’s a good ‘un. And, by the way, there’s absolutely no need to modify the trailer. Brilliant!

At the launch, two different versions were driven: a 1.6-litre 120PS Diesel saloon in the new SE Business specification and adding on the automatic DSG gear box, and then a lively 2.0-litre estate also in Business trim, but with a six-speed manual gear change. Both cars, including options, cost over £30,000.

The 1.6 was a bit noisier when pressed than was the bigger car, but both were commendably quiet and smooth. The DSG gear changes were, as usual, almost seamless and indiscernible at times; the manual was delightfully light and precise. The smaller engine can get the car to 62mph in 10.8 seconds; the 2.0-litre shaves that to 8.9 seconds. As to braking, two emergency stops, one as a test and another to avoid mowing down a pheasant, were perfect: no fuss, no deviation. Precise steering and handling without any roll along with a comfortable ride made driving in each car a pleasant experience.

Fuel consumptions on identical not-very-demanding drives in the countryside were surprisingly similar: the 1.6 auto returned 47.0 mpg and the 2.0-litre a little better at 48.5 mpg, as displayed by the trip computer.

The test cars appeared to be as well-built as is expected of Volkswagen and were smart and well-thought-out ergonomically.

Prices start at £22,215 for saloons and there’s a premium of £1530 for estates.

Do they do the job well? No complaints here on first impression.

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About the Author

Tom Scanlan

'Tom Scanlan has written for a wide variety of magazines and newspapers, particularly the Reading Evening Post for ten years, having got into motoring journalism in 1973 via the somewhat unlikely back door of the British Forces Broadcasting Service. BFBS produced a weekly radio motoring show for the services overseas and Tom produced it, as well as interviewing experts and eventually reporting on cars. He is into classic cars and has owned Porsche, Ferrari, pre-war Alvis and Rileys and currently owns his fifth old Alfa Romeo, a 1984 GTV 2.0. In his spare time, Tom is a professional cricket coach.'

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