Volk­swa­gen’s new Pas­sat proves it is any­thing but passé

Pilbara News - - Pilbara Motoring - Alis­tair Kennedy

■ 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.

Pic­ture: Mar­que Mo­tor­ing

Eighth gen­er­a­tion Volk­swa­gen Pas­sat is stylish yet con­ser­va­tive.

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