VW Passat sticks to proven formula

Volkswagen Passat: Stylish sedan.

On paper, there’s a certain similarity with the mainstream cars which are coming out of Germany.

Between BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Audi and Volkswagen there are a plethora of models which have 2-litre turbocharged engines, some with four-wheel-drive, some without.

The latest to come my way is Volkswagen’s Passat 4Motion and, as its nomenclature suggests, it is four-wheel-drive.

It lists at $68,740, and competes competitively with similar product from all of those marques I mentioned in my introduction, simply because it sits just a little bit lower in the price range. Of course, there are other Passat models which are priced from $46,390, but if you want the high-power 2-litre petrol engine and 4Motion then you have dig a bit deeper.

And the new Passat has huge power, it is rated with 206kW and 350Nm of torque developed through strong turbo boost – peak power is listed low in the rev range at 5600rpm to 6500rpm, while maximum torque is available all of the way from an amazing 1700rpm.

These figures combine to produce strong performance – a standstill to 100km/h figure of a quick 5.5sec is claimed and if the laws allowed it would top end at 250km/h. Power is ushered in willingly, but unlike some of its competitors, there is little sound in the Passat, if you listen intently you can pick a little bark out the exhaust as the turbo goes on and off boost, but it is subdued.

There are five driver-selectable driving modes on offer – from economy to sport settings – the latter provides more immediate acceleration, but I used normal for most of my testing time and it still sparks up that feisty nature that over 200kW provides.

Power is directed through a six-speed direct shift transmission. There are only two pedals, so effectively DSG works like a traditional automatic, bar for the noticeable lack of torque soak. The result is unimpeded power output and lightning quick, smooth shifts. Interestingly, the high power Passat doesn’t get the seven-speed DSG of its 1.8-litre counterparts and I suggest that is because it can’t be paired to 4Motion.

Volkswagen also claim a 7.1-litre per 100km (40mpg) combined cycle fuel usage rating for the new Passat; I was a bit heavy-footed during my time in the test car, so the best I could glean was around 9l/100km (31mpg), but I can report a 7l/100km figure is available at a steady 100km/h cruise with the engine turning over at just 2200rpm.

I had a Trade Me item to pick up in Lyttelton, so I took the hill roads to and from the port. I can report that the Passat has handling manners which could easily categorise it as a sports sedan, it sits low on the road and with firmish suspension it points and turns with precision. Providing the grip are sticky Pirelli Cinturato tyres (235/40 x 19in), they are quiet and accept the grip asked of them through the 4Motion system.

Firstly, though, Passat is the comfortable medium-to-large sedan (and wagon) which has carved out a huge reputation worldwide for its reliability and functionality.

The range-topper is fully loaded with kit, starting with full leather trim with heated front seats with massagers. Other high end features include satellite navigation, active cruise control and multi-media infotainment system. It also gets a full suite of safety kit, some of the latter includes a driver assistance package which has a function I really like, that being an active assist mechanism to stop the vehicle wandering from the lane.

I like the product which is coming out of Volkswagen factories at the moment, it is all high quality and must be viewed as a genuine competitor for the high profile brands.

The Passat is endearing and feels involving to drive. But if I was a Passat buyer I’d be looking at the fabulous 2-litre turbocharged diesel. Regular readers may recall my evaluation of that car mid-way through last year, its combination of power and economy is something quite remarkable.