BAD TIM­ING BUT VW’S NEW PAS­SAT IS AT THE TOP OF ITS CLASS

Mt Druitt - St Mary's Standard (East) - - CARS GUIDE - Paul Gover

TOP car, ter­ri­ble tim­ing.

What else can we say about the all-new Volk­swa­gen Pas­sat?

It’s com­pletely new, right at the top of its class, cheaper than the out­go­ing car and im­pres­sive in al­most ev­ery area.

But the Pas­sat has hit Aus­tralia at the height of the worst cri­sis in the his­tory of Volk­swa­gen.

Things will be much clearer in a year, when the cru­cial Tiguan SUV lands to com­plete the to­tal over­haul of Volk­swa­gen’s show­room line-up but, for now, the suc­cess or fail­ure of the Pas­sat is not just down to the car.

That’s a pity, be­cause the Pas­sat B5 looks nicely tough, has a roomier cabin with more equip­ment and class, ar­rives with a $34,990 start­ing price and drives well with either petrol or diesel en­gines in sedan and wagon bod­ies.

NEW GEN­ER­A­TION

THE eighth-gen­er­a­tion Pas­sat is the Mark 7 Golf, which pro­vided the ba­sic build­ing blocks – VW calls it the MQB plat­form.

So the Pas­sat is, at its core, the big­gest brother of the Golf.

SPACE

THE body is slightly shorter but a longer wheel­base means more cabin space – VW boasts im­prove- It’s a fact that sales of mid-sized cars in Aus­tralia are slump­ing un­der the ris­ing tide of SUVs, but it’s also true that the Pas­sat is right up at the top of the class. ments to leg, head and shoul­der room – as well as more car­ry­ing ca­pac­ity in both the sedan and wagon. There are also some neat tweaks in­clud­ing car­ry­ing hooks and a load-through port in the 60:40 split fold­ing back seat.

There are two en­gines – a 1.8-litre petrol turbo with 132Kw/250Nm and a 2.0-litre tur­bod­iesel with 140kW/400Nm – with more grunt from less fuel, the petrol en­gine gets a seven-speed DSG and the diesel is hooked to a six-speed DSG, both turn­ing the front wheels, and there is stop-start and re­gen­er­a­tive brak­ing.

Three trim grades are avail­able: Stan­dard, Com­fort­line and High­line, with VW claim­ing the lat­est spec­i­fi­ca­tion is up to $4000 richer and re­flects the most pop­u­lar equip­ment choices of the out­go­ing cars.

SAFE

ON THE safety front, the Pas­sat gets five EuroNCAP stars with help from nine airbags, a stan­dard rear view cam­era, driver fa­tigue sys­tem, and au­to­matic safety brak­ing that works at up to 60km/h.

Stan­dard equip­ment is gen­er­ous for the class and price, as even the ba­sic Pas­sat comes with sat­nav, cruise con­trol, an “er­goCom­fort” driver’s seat, al­loy wheels with a match­ing spare, tinted glass, a 6.5- inch colour touch­screen and a three-mode driver pack­age that tweaks the steer­ing and throt­tle re­sponse.

ON THE ROAD

MY FAVOURITE of the new Pas­sats is the cheap­est one.

It’s rea­son­ably equipped, safe and comfy and quiet, and it drives well.

It has plenty of safety stuff, the petrol en­gine per­forms well – but bet­ter in Sport mode – and I’m not miss­ing the big­ger in­fo­tain­ment screen of higher grade mod­els.

The High­line diesel has more shove from the bot­tom and the driver-ad­justable re­sponse that means I can pud­dle in Eco or have fun in Sport.

The rear-view screen is big and clear, the driver’s seat has the promised com­fort with sup­port, and I like the clear in­stru­ments and the leather-wrapped wheel.

There is plenty of fruit, the Nappa leather is comfy, there is a full-sized spare in the boot, and I like the looks of the sedan and the wagon.

But the ride is a bit brit­tle, with the car fid­get­ing over bro­ken sur­faces, and I’m no fan of a sun­roof that steals head­room.

It’s the ride that an­noys me most, be­cause I know that this is a Golf­based Pas­sat and the Golf Seven is one of the cushi­est cars I know.

VW’s Pas­sat ... com­pletely new.

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