The VW Passat has become a benchmark in its segment. It has now grown even more elegant, stylish, honed further to technical perfection and is becoming also quite sophisticated with state of the art inboard electronics. For all its good qualities, it has been awarded car of the year 2015. It is now sleeker, has a longer wheelbase, and enjoys fine-tuned, state of the art, super smooth and frugal engines, coupled to excellent transmissions. The platform technology and suspension rank also among the best in its segment, and the build quality is beyond reproach. A car of superlatives? Just read further...
Hans Knol ten Bensel
Timeless and classic VW design, with an extra touch of elegance...
The new Passat has gained in looks. From the stylish front grille, with its four chromed horizontal bars and the flush fitting headlights, over the fluent and classy roof line, to a very well proportioned rear end, the Passat indeed offers well balanced contours and volumes to please many for years to come.
Our test car came with a very flattering "Harvard Blue" exterior colour, which matched flawlessly with the Titan Dark and black "Saint Tropez" interior.
The same goes for the interior. Upmarket touches like the analog round clock in the middle of the dashboard, reminiscent of the original VW Phaeton, the nice wide ventilation grille running over the whole width of the same dashboard, giving a sensation of spaciousness, the nice and judicious touches of brushed aluminium and chrome, all this leads to an upmarket or premium ambiente in the cabin.
This is further enhanced by the state of the art electronic instrumentation one finds in this new Passat. One can choose between different instrument layouts, going from the classic round dials for revs and speed to an all info display which even includes a road map between the two virtual instrument clusters.
It certainly is high tech and keeps you informed, about your car, its progress, its consumption and its surroundings. It all is set in a very logical way, and one wonders how we have done without all this, because everything is so intuitive and evident.
The same ease of use one now finds in the navigation system we found in our test car, which was equipped with the GPS "discover pro" system. It is completely intuitive to use, just glide with your fingers over the touch screen, a few taps here and there, and presto, you are all set to drive unerringly to your destination.
Space and comfort, the Passat way...
A word of praise is also justified for the seating position, which is quick and easy to find, and the VW seats offer a very wide and excellent adjustment range.
Our front seats were the "ergoComfort" version, which has a 14-way configuration so you can find your optimal height, tilt and thigh support for that ideal seating position, most important, as we all know, for very long trips.
VW has lengthened the wheelbase by a good 79 mm, and this means that legroom in the rear has been increased, sufficient to offer limousine comfort to the rear passengers, something which is not so evident in its segment. The state of the art platform technology and the vast experience in coachbuilding and space usage efficiency by the VW people, means also that the Passat offer truly cavernous boot space, not less than 586 litres of it, an increase of not less than 21 litres compared to the previous model.
Flawless Diesel technology
We drove the 150 HP Bluemotion Technology 2 litre Diesel, and of course this excellent power unit is smooth, has plenty of punch and is both very flexible and frugal. It is indeed vibrationless from very low rev ranges onwards, say 1200 rpm, and it is able to potter around without any vibrations at these low revs at constant speed driving. When it has to deliver more power, one notices only the faintest vibrations, which is totally ironed out as soon as the revs rise a few hundred rpms higher. It clearly shows that the VW engineers have come to an ideal engine mounting position and vibration damping setup, which adds greatly to the comfort and refinement of the car, and makes economy driving a (very) smooth affair.
When pushed hard, the engine stays smooth, and does not develop any harshness in its exhaust note, which is no small feat either. The engine develops its maximum power at a mere 3500 rpm, and a healthy torque of 340 Nm is developed over a wide range between 1750 and 3000 rpm. We consider the Passat with the 150 Hp engine ideally powered, and indeed, it reaches here a performance level which will satisfy most drivers: 0 to 100 kph is reached in merely 8,7 seconds and top speed is not less than 220 kph.
And economical, this Passat truly is. The manufacturer quotes 4 litres/100 km for the official cycle, and it was rather easy for us to stay around and below the 5 litre mark per 100 km during our test. Even at very short distance city trips of say 2 kilometres and starting from cold, one was able to achieve average consumptions around 5,8 litres, which tells you about the sheer efficiency of the engine and drive train.
Our test car came with the six speed manual transmission, and it is very well geared to match engine characteristics and the car. Of course, as the Germans say "das Bessere ist das Guten Feind", and indeed, we would still prefer the excellent DSG automatic transmission, which combines comfort with agility and sheer performance, without sacrificing anything in economy.
The Passat is of course a master on the motorways, or “Autobahnen”, and thanks to its excellent Cruise Control with built in Distance Control, this Passat can be driven with utmost confidence and safety up to very high cruising speeds, if only this were legally allowed. The Distance Control functions works very smoothly and unobtrusively, and we would consider this accessory a must in every modern car.
The platform and suspension of the Passat brings comfort and handling up to very high levels in this segment, and one can say here that the Passat delivers true driving pleasure, more outspoken now when compared to the previous model. The steering is very precise, and the Passat can be driven fast with confidence over winding roads.
Even if this dynamic driving is not your cup of tea, it is good to know that the suspension and chassis have these built in reserves which can be crucial to steer you out of emergency situations. Of course, your Passat can be equipped with Dynamic Chassis Control, and this will enhance both handling and driving comfort even further.
Road noise and wind roar are very well suppressed, and the Passat is a quiet car, which one can only appreciate when one spends long hours daily behind the wheel.
The Passat certainly rises to the occasion if one looks for build quality, excellent mechanical refinement, reliability. Its styling language is classic modern, embodying with its well balanced design language the trustworthiness and longevity of the marque, and its superb high tech standing. The Passat is quite versatile when one looks at the vast array of engines, transmissions, and equipment levels.
Also in terms of infotainment, electronic driving assistance systems it has very much to offer, and can be had in various (electrical/hybrid) propulsion modes. The sedan version offers already a lot of space, and the Passat can also be had in break versions, which we will be driving soon, with other types of engines and/or transmissions. Last but not least their is the frugality, low CO2 emissions and the low depreciation, so this classic, timelessly styled Passat could be your good companion for years to come...
Hans Knol ten Bensel