Impressing the ladies
BRIAN BASSETT fails in the fuel stakes, but impresses his wife in the Passat 1.4
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.
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.
The 2016 European Car Of The Year proved itself a deserving winner on KZN’s D roads.