VOLKSWAGEN PASSAT COMFORTLINE
Starts with a $4500 price disadvantage but trumps the Subaru with three-zone aircon, more driver assistance technology and audible parking sensors. It also has cheaper servicing at $1527 over three years (although you get three services to Subaru’s six). According to Glass’s Guide, it retains just 45 per cent of its value over three years, compared with 55 per cent for the Subaru.
The Subaru is well finished, but the Passat takes it up a notch with a prestige feel that includes soft leather, brushed aluminium highlights and better quality graphics for the centre screen and instrument panel. It also has more rear leg room and a bigger boot at 586 litres, roughly 20 per cent more than the Liberty.
The Passat has marginally more power and torque at 132kW/250Nm, but the torque arrives lower in the rev range, giving it better response off the mark. The sevenspeed dual-clutch auto also helps performance with its rapid changes, as does the 80kg weight advantage. The Passat makes its power more efficiently too, using just 6 litres per 100km.
Comes fully loaded with driver assistance technology, including fatigue detection, rear traffic alert, auto emergency braking and lane departure warning. It’s a shame auto braking isn’t standard across the range, though. It has nine airbags and audible parking sensors to go with the reversing camera. It scored five stars in crash testing with a score of 35.89 out of 37.
The Passat is the more enjoyable drive, thanks to a perkier engine, rapid gear changes and a more nimble feel through the bends. It feels and sounds sportier but also insulates the driver from road imperfections slightly better, with less road noise from tyres and suspension. The steering is well-weighted and direct.