Volk­swa­gen Pas­sat

Clas­si­cally un­der­stated in every way ex­cept the fea­tures list

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VW has a flag­ship that in­cor­po­rates a se­ri­ously lux­u­ri­ous cabin in a classy ex­ec­u­tive sedan shell. Doesn’t sound any dif­fer­ent than the ri­vals? We thought so too but then, we drove it

Adecade back, the Pas­sat came into the mar­ket with the in­ten­tion to usurp the D-seg­ment. At the time, it mainly ri­valled Skoda which in­ci­den­tally is a fam­ily brand. But by then, the In­dian mar­ket had whole-heart­edly lapped up the trdel­nik that the Czech had served in the form of the Su­perb. So a late en­try (a whole three years later) into the mar­ket and charg­ing a pre­mium over the Czech, didn’t quite go down well with the price-con­scious In­dian ap­petite. A cou­ple of years af­ter that, the Skoda even went on to dom­i­nate the seg­ment while the Volk­swa­gen fiz­zled out of con­tention.

A decade later, Volk­swa­gen chose the same date and venue to launch the all-new Pas­sat with an all-new con­fi­dence of hav­ing a new flag­ship sedan steal some mar­ket share. The story how­ever, be­gan in the early Sev­en­ties when VW started man­u­fac­tur­ing this fam­ily sedan. Since then, the model has seen seven gen­er­a­tions of up­grades, makeovers and quan­tifi­able suc­cess. With the all­new model, the Pas­sat en­ters its eighth gen­er­a­tion but then again, Volk­swa­gen still be­lieves in mak­ing a late en­try to steal the show. This time, two years late. First un­veiled for global mar­kets in 2015, the new-gen Pas­sat played a small cameo at the VW stall dur­ing the 2016 Auto Expo held in Noida, U.P al­beit in GTE form. But even two years on, as we ap­proached the car for a test run, the de­sign has a time­less ap­peal to it and looks ever so beau­ti­ful.

The sim­ple yet strong de­sign lines on the bon­net and the shoul­ders ex­ude class, strength and so­phis­ti­ca­tion. These are traits that de­fine the car as an ex­ec­u­tive sedan which quite ob­vi­ously, is the Pas­sat’s in­tended place and re­sult­ing ap­peal. This car is an ex­am­ple of Volk­swa­gen’s evolved de­sign phi­los­o­phy and if you take a look at up­com­ing cars from the man­u­fac­turer like the Ar­teon, you can see the ori­gins of the de­sign in the new Pas­sat. Blur­ring the lines be­tween sporty and stately, Volk­swa­gen places the hor­i­zon­tally slat­ted grille and LED head­lamps low with an ap­pear­ance that makes them look as a con­tin­u­ous unit. This makes the bon­net look larger but lower while also al­low­ing the wind­shield to be raked sharper. Take a look at the side pro­file and the roofline low­ers till the boot with a sub­tle hint of a coupe. Make no mis­take, this is a 3-box de­sign and one that has been done rather well. The sub­tlety in its de­sign is even more ap­peal­ing in the flesh and rest as­sured, will garner a lot of at­ten­tion so long as one has taste for un­der­stated el­e­gance.

Step in­side the cabin to find a con­tin­u­a­tion of the ex­te­rior theme. Most no­tice­ably, the air-con vents are housed in the same man­ner as the front grille and head­lights as a con­tin­u­ous unit across the width of the dash­board. Black Nappa leather up­hol­stery with wooden in­serts dom­i­nate the top-half of the dash­board while softer plas­tics have been used in the lower half of the cabin. This is a cabin that’s lux­u­ri­ous and of top-notch qual­ity. So much so that every nook and

cranny has been thought through for driver-fo­cused con­ve­nience. The pas­sen­gers haven’t been for­got­ten in the process as both front seats are power ad­justable while rear pas­sen­gers can ap­pre­ci­ate ded­i­cated vents and con­trols.

The ex­ten­sive fea­ture list boasts of a three-zone cli­mate con­trol, elec­tric sun­roof, elec­tric rear blind, and au­to­matic park­ing to name a few. Seg­ment norms for the cur­rent crop of ex­ec­u­tive sedans but good to have them none­the­less. The party trick lies in the back with the “Easy Open/Close” boot which can open with a shake of your leg (when your hands are full, pun un­in­tended) and as you walk away, it will shut au­to­mat­i­cally.

One of the ma­jor high­lights of the car is that it’s the first sedan in In­dia based on Volk­swa­gen’s mod­u­lar MQB plat­form. This has helped the Pas­sat of­fer nearly 600 litres of boot space and should you need more, it can be ex­panded with 60/40 split fold­able rear seats. Not just space, the Pas­sat’s han­dling is

EX­TEN­SIVE FEA­TURE LIST IN­CLUDES A THREE-ZONE CLI­MATE CON­TROL, ELEC­TRIC SUN­ROOF, ELEC­TRIC REAR BLIND AND AU­TO­MATIC PARK­ING

an­other as­pect that has ben­e­fit­ted from the new plat­form. The ride qual­ity is good over­all for our road con­di­tions al­though some may find it slightly on the stiffer side, mak­ing for a balanced han­dling pack­age. The damp­ing is softer at the rear, good for speed bumps and pot­holes, not so much while at speed on a con­crete high­way. Seated in the front, the ex­pe­ri­ence is much dif­fer­ent as damp­ing is bet­ter on the front sus­pen­sion, pos­si­bly aided by the weight of the en­gine. Mild un­du­la­tions are felt more at the rear but com­fort seems to be the fo­cus than out­right sporty han­dling. There are driv­ing modes that can al­ter the be­hav­iour of the 2.0-litre TDI diesel en­gine and 6-speed DSG trans­mis­sion and switch­ing be­tween them re­sults in a no­tice­able dif­fer­ence. The power de­liv­ery is smooth and the quick shifts en­sure a rapid build up of pace for ef­fort­less cruis­ing abil­ity. The Pas­sat is as much a sporty driver’s car as it is a com­fort­able ex­ec­u­tive sedan to be driven around in. Claimed to of­fer 17.4kmpl, the Pas­sat is also likely to keep trips to the fuel sta­tion at a min­i­mum.

Likes Fea­tures, styling, en­gine and gearbox Dis­like Lim­ited vari­ants, ride qual­ity could be bet­ter

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