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