THE Passat is the biggest passenger car that Volkwagen sells here, in terms of physical size that is.
It’s never achieved quite the kind of success the company might have liked, but those who have one speak in glowing terms of them. The turbocharged 118TSI is the new entry level model, with a turbocharged four cylinder petrol engine. How much? The wagon is priced from $40,990 plus onroads which includes a DSG style robotised manual gearbox. That doesn’t get you leather, but we’re not big fans of leather anyway. What are the competitors? Subaru Liberty, Mazda6 at a stretch, but mainly the Euros like the Ford Mondeo, Renault Laguna, not forgetting VW’s own Audi and Skoda wagons. What’s under the bonnet? The 118TSI boasts a 1.8-litre turbocharged petrol engine, not to be confused with the 118TSI twincharged 1.4-litre unit in Golf. The 1.8 produces 118kW at 4500 revs and 250Nm of torque between 1500 and 4500 revs. The four cylinder engine is hooked up to a seven-speed DSG gearbox for optimum performance and economy. The rest of the range makes do with a six-speed. How does it go? Not bad. 0-100km/h takes 8.7 seconds (two tenths slower than the sedan). It has a good combination of performance and economy. It is smoother than the entry level diesel that it replaces. If you want more power you can spend more money, but really this is all you need. Is it economical? The wagon is rated at 7.8 litres/100km which is excellent for a petrol engined car this size. We clocked up just over 300km behind the wheel at a rate of 8.7 litres/100km. Is it safe? The Passat gets a full five stars for safety according to ANCAP and comes with a full complement of safety accessories including eight airbags, stability control and anti-lock brakes. The extra two bags come in the form of side airbags for rear passengers. Is it comfortable? Just the right size. Push button handbrake. Front and rear parking sensors standard. Eight speaker sound system includes AUX jack, but full media interface is another $300. A rear view camera is an extra $700. Is it “green”? Producing 182g CO2/km, Passat scores a total of four out of five stars from the Government’s Green Vehicle Guide. What’s it like to drive? It’s interesting driving one of these back to back with the not so small Jetta. The Passat is noticeably bigger, quieter and more luxurious. There’s a reassuring “thunk” when the door shuts that the Jetta doesn’t have. Cruising the motorway or around town is a warm, comfortable cocooned experience. Is it value for money? Yes, especially the wagon. The storage volume is 1731 litres with the rear seat folded, with a load length of 1.96m. There’s twin zone climate airconditioning, auto lights, wipers and interior mirror. A full size alloy spare is standard as are the 17in alloys with 235/45 tyres. Would we buy one? Yes please. Quietly impressive. It fits like a glove. Every time we get back into a Passat it’s like coming home.
It’s a car that blurs the line between premium and luxury.