Im­press­ing the ladies

BRIAN BAS­SETT fails in the fuel stakes, but im­presses his wife in the Passat 1.4

The Witness - Wheels - - MOTORING -

MY wife is no petrol head, be­ing more the blue or red car type of per­son. But she does en­joy driv­ing, so much so that I am some­times fright­ened by the speeds she achieves through the Ka­roo on our oc­ca­sional jour­neys to the Western Cape.

The Passat, how­ever, is one car that im­pressed her. Pressed for de­tails, she pointed out its com­fort, space and con­ve­nience, and in­formed me this was the car I should con­sider buy­ing, if ever we could af­ford to re­place our cur­rent ve­hi­cle.

My wife’s re­sponse to the car is a great com­pli­ment to the eighth-gen­er­a­tion Passat, which has been around since the sev­en­ties, as an old friend in How­ick pointed out. He still drives his 1977 sta­tion wagon, which has just done 500 000 km and is still in daily use. Like the old, the new Passat is a se­ri­ous mo­tor car that ticks all the boxes, in­clud­ing the one for Euro­pean Car Of The Year. The new Passat was also a fi­nal­ist in the World Car of the Year awards.

Styling

The Passat is a good-look­ing car in a sub­tle, classy way. It is the car for a driver who wants to an­nounce that he or she has ar­rived but has not lost good taste dur­ing the jour­ney.

Sev­eral peo­ple came over in shop­ping cen­tre park­ing lots and com­mented on the car’s good looks. It would be true to say that the Passat is dis­tinc­tive in de­sign, with its strong, elon­gated, hor­i­zon­tal lines, as well as the shoul­der line, which runs par­al­lel to the lead­ing edges of the head­lamp clus­ters and joins up with the trape­zoidal rear lamps.

In­te­rior and safety

The in­te­rior is fin­ished in soft leather with high-qual­ity work­man­ship. The cabin is min­i­mal­ist with slim ven­ti­la­tion out­lets span­ning the en­tire fas­cia, and me­tal trim fin­ishes that match the brushed alu­minium strip across the dash­board, with a cen­trally placed ana­logue clock.

The pi­ano-black fin­ish around the cen­tre stack, steer­ing wheels boss and 6,5-inch colour touch­screen, gives the in­te­rior a slick, lux­u­ri­ous ap­pear­ance. The front seats are fully ad­justable, as is the steer­ing, and the Passat is one of the most com­fort­able cars I have driven and is easy to drive.

The car is a full five-seater with a huge boot and rear seats that fold down in 60/40 fash­ion. As to safety, the car has ev­ery safety fea­ture you can think of.

I was, how­ever, im­pressed by the Hill and In­cline Hold fea­ture, as well as the Park As­sist and multi-col­li­sion brak­ing fa­cil­i­ties.

Per­for­mance and han­dling

The 1,4l turbo-charged, four-cylin­der en­gine puts out 110 kW/250 Nm and has a sev­en­speed, but­ter smooth auto gear­box.

The 0-100 km/h run is done in about 8,5 sec­onds and top speed is around 220 km/h.

In the test drive, my chal­lenge was to match the fac­tory’s fuel con­sump­tion of 5,2 l/100 km.

I failed dis­mally, get­ting at best 6,6 l/100, but in my de­fence, this was done over sev­eral bad D roads in the Mid­lands. The 1,4 liter en­gine cruises with ease on the N3 and over­takes trucks with gusto.

The car is sta­ble and re­spon­sive on bad roads, even at speed, and in town the Passat is an ab­so­lute plea­sure to han­dle.

We be­lieve that this is the best fam­ily sedan avail­able in the RSA to­day.

Costs and the com­pe­ti­tion

The Com­fort­line auto we drove comes in at about R415 000 and the top-of-the-range model the TSI R-Line Auto, costs around R495 000.

Re­mem­ber, how­ever, that there are many ex­tras. The car comes with the usual VW guar­an­tee and a five-year 100 000 km main­te­nance plan. Also look at the Ford Fu­sion, Subaru Legacy and Volvo S60, among oth­ers.

PHOTO: MOTORTREND.COM

The 2016 Euro­pean Car Of The Year proved it­self a de­serv­ing win­ner on KZN’s D roads.

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