Cargiant reviews the VW Passat
Like the Volkswagen Golf, the VW Passat makes for an excellent choice of family car. Available as both a saloon and an estate, the series comes with a good range of affordable and efficient engines and an enjoyable ride.
That’s not to say that the drive is particularly exciting next to rivals like the Ford Mondeo or Skoda Octavia but the VW Passat is well equipped and an excellent motorway cruiser. Steering is precise but light and the suspension across the range is comfortable, absorbing any bumps or potholes in smaller roads.
The VW Passat is also smaller than its predecessors and competitors like the Ford Mondeo equivalent, which makes it easier to manoeuvre and park. This decrease in size however hasn’t lessened the amount of room inside significantly. There is still plenty of leg and headspace for both driver and passengers, making this series very practical.
As with all Volkswagen cars the VW Passat boasts a luxurious, high quality interior. The classy looking dashboard is clearly laid out and the seat and steering wheel adjustability allows you to get as comfortable as possible. Improvements to the refinement of the car have also led to the VW Passat to not only be reliable on the road but quiet in the cabin as well.
Drive and Performance:
There is little doubt that if you are seeking a car that is exciting and fun to drive you are probably looking in the wrong place. That said if you are looking for a capable, comfortable and reliable car with the family in mind then the VW Passat might just be the one for you.
The VW Passat comes with supple suspension in all of its models, which absorbs any bumps in the road with ease, especially at speed. In fact, it is at higher speeds on bigger roads that the Passat really shines. It’s been designed with motorways in mind, and so makes for the perfect cruiser. The little body movement that exists, is minimized and useful additional gadgets like a drowsiness monitor mean you can comfortably and securely drive for miles.
Gearshift is light and depending on the model, gearboxes come as a manual or automatic with the latter feeling even slicker. The steering of the VW Passat is also light and accurate but doesn’t provide as much feedback as you might like, making the car feel a little unresponsive and disengaged at times.
Updates to the refinement of the VW Passat have left the cabin with minimal road, wind and engine noise. Engines are surprisingly powerful and efficient and useful equipment such as electronic parking brakes and stability control system make the car easy to manoeuvre. You can upgrade to include the Adaptive Chassis control too but this comes at a cost and isn’t always necessary.
MPG, Running Costs & Emissions:
The VW Passat is competitively priced and costs more than the likes of the Ford Mondeo but holds its value better.
All of the engines in the VW Passat range are competitively economic and fuel-efficient. The BlueMotion 1.6-litre diesel is particularly impressive with Volkswagen claiming it can achieve 68.9mpg and emitting only 114g/km of CO2 emissions. This also puts it in band C of road tax so you are exempt for a year and only have to pay £30 a year after that.
Even the regular 1.6-litre diesel can reach 65.7mpg and again emits only 114g/km of CO2. The petrol engines are of course less efficient but the BlueMotion 1.4 TSI still boasts 47.9mpg and 138g/km and all of the engines in the series are surprisingly powerful.
It is worth noting that although relatively low running costs are available with the VW Passat, models with an automatic gearbox will boost CO2 emissions and prices will creep up. It is also ultimately a cruiser so this type of car may only be suitable to those with low mileage.
Built primarily for longer journeys, the VW Passat comes with decent suspension that allows it to glide over bumps you may encounter. The amount of seat and steering wheel adjustment available also aids comfort and provides a perfectly good driving position. One criticism is the that seats themselves are quite flat and lack side support, so those of you looking for a thrill ride may be disappointed and even find yourself sliding about a bit.
Comfort doesn’t stop there though. Even though the newer models of the VW Passat have downsized, there is still more than enough head and leg space on offer. The middle rear passenger may find that they are less able to stretch out due to the large transmissions tunnel raising the floor by their feet but this is the same in most cars.
Both the saloon and the estate versions of the VW Passat are very practical, boasting a large boot (bigger than the Ford Mondeo) and lots of spacious cubbyholes. It comes with the most essential features like air con, Bluetooth, USB connectivity but can be upgraded to include satnav and parking sensors as well as a more extensive chrome trim.
The dashboard is clearly labelled and well laid out, making it easy to navigate while driving. While the actual design of the dash hasn’t changed hugely over the years, it’s still relatively attractive and now comes with a classy but perhaps unnecessary electric parking brake and starter system.
The exterior has been modified too. While still baring strong similarities to its predecessors, the VW Passat now sports a more angular body, with more obvious creases and stylish headlamps. The windows are also bigger and thicker, providing better visibility and sound insulation inside the cabin. Nifty features like a sensor under the car triggered by your foot that opens the boot have also been added, adding to the practicality of this popular car.
The VW Passat triumphed over its rivals such as the Ford Mondeo and Vauxhall Insignia in the 2013 JD Power customer satisfaction survey, placing itself 39th out of 116 cars, which isn’t bad at all.
It provides a range of safety features, including front, side and curtain airbags and specialised headrests that minimize whiplash. While the VW Passat lacks knee bags for the driver, it does come equipped with traction control, stability control, and ISOFIX points for securing children’s’ booster seats. This helped it achieve a high score for both adult and child protection in the Euro NCAP crash tests and an overall score of the maximum 5 stars.
Additional safety features like drowsiness detection, lane assist and autobrake system are also available but come at a cost. Overall, although the VW Passat may not quite match the likes of the Skoda Octavia for safety, it is undeniably a safe and reliable car and a trustworthy choice for families.