Volkswagen’s new Passat proves it is anything but passé
■ New model releases are a welcome diversion for Volkswagen Australia as the automotive giant counts the cost of the emissions scandal.
Several weeks ago, as the news of “Dieselgate” broke, we attended the launch of the new Golf Alltrack.
That’s been followed by the release of the eighth-generation (B8) version of the Passat mid-sized sedan and wagon.
Volkswagen is a carmaker that ranks substance ahead of style and the new Passat is no different.
There’s nothing ostentatious about the car but nor is there anything likely to offend.
With so many designs going for the large open grille, it’s quite refreshing to see Volkswagen buck the trend with a narrow full-width three-bar grille.
The biggest change goes to the core of the new Passat and its use of the Volkswagen MQB platform.
The structure allows for a range of vehicles to be built at the same factory and so reduce costs, a significant contributor to price cuts of up to $4000 on the new Passat.
The interior is spacious with reasonable headroom even where fitted with the optional sunroof and a surprising amount of rear seat legroom.
There’s no compromise behind the rear seats, with 586 litres of boot space in the sedan and 650 in the wagon. This expands to 1152 and 1780 litres when the rear seatbacks are folded.
Two engines are offered in the B8. While the capacities (1.8-litre petrol and 2.0-litre diesel) are unchanged, both have increased outputs. The previous 118TSI is now the 132TSI, with the name indicating that power has increased from 118kW to 132kW.
Torque remains at 250Nm but now comes in 250rpm lower than before on the tachometer at 1250rpm.
Using the same logic, the turbodiesel 130TDI becomes the 140TDI, with torque up from 380Nm to 400Nm, still peaking from 1750rpm. Importantly, the engine is not the offending EA189 unit, which was fitted to the B7 Passat.
Both engines are mated to DSG dual-clutch transmissions, sevenspeed with the 132TSI and sixspeed with the 140TDI. Drive is through the front wheels — an Alltrack AWD will be added to the range in early 2016.
Three Passat variants are offered, each with the choice of sedan or wagon body. The 132TSI petrol is available as an entry-level Passat sedan ($34,990) and the midspecced Comfortline ($39,990).
The 140TDI diesel is only available in the flagship Highline spec for $45,990. There’s a $2000 surcharge for the respective wagons.
The range of safety features across the Passat range is outstanding, including nine airbags, enhanced ABS braking with electronic brakeforce distribution, brake assist and auto hold, electronic stability program with traction control, rear view camera with multi-angle views and driver fatigue detection. Added safety that comes standard in the Comfortline and Highline models, and with the $1800 driver assistant package in the base grade 130TSI, are adaptive cruise control with stop/start; front assist with city emergency braking; lane assist; side assist; and rear traffic alert.
All variants has come with three-zone climate control air conditioning; App-Connect USB interface (Apple and Android); satellite navigation; and Bluetooth connectivity.
The 132TSI uses the Discover Media system and displays on a 6.5inch colour touchscreen, the Discover Pro in the Customline and Highline have additional features on an eight-inch screen.
We were able to test both petrol and diesel Passats.
We tackled the entry-level 132TSI and came away highly impressed.
Handling is sharp, with neutral road behaviour at normal speeds, gradually changing to safe understeer when the car was pushed.
The highway cruise in the 140TDI diesel was smooth, quiet and comfortable. Not surprising because Passat shares quite a few out-of-sight components with upmarket Audis.
On top of the already high quality and good value, Volkswagen Passat could well become an even more attractive proposition than it already is.
Eighth generation Volkswagen Passat is stylish yet conservative.