The Passat has always had an identity problem. Where does it fit into the sector? To me, it’s always been a little nondescript - not quite an Audi and not quite a VW. It never quite fitted in with its contemporaries, the Skoda Superb or the Vauxhall Insignia or higher up the sector with the Audi A4, Merc C-Class or BMW 3 Series.
But my, how things have changed with the new model. Better equipped, a much better interior and a good looking body. The entry-level 118BHP 1.6 is adequate and will do the job but the 148 BHP 2-litre is the one to go for, with plenty of get up and go and solid as a rock on the motorway. For the best ride, opt for the smaller 17” wheels as although they don’t look as good as the large ones, you will benefit from a much smoother ride. The diesel models can be a noisy and booming whereby the manual is smooth and fairly silent.
As with its Audi sister, you can have four-wheel drive although you will never go hill-climbing in it, it makes it more secure and planted on wet roads and in snow, you might be one of the only cars actually moving.
The interior is much improved with good adjustment on the seats, and the dashboard is easy to read and operate. Front and rear parking sensors are standard and required when reversing, as it is not easy to judge the rear length. Or go for auto parking whereby the car does the job whilst you just sit there. and read the paper. It comes with a standard 6.5” screen although you can upgrade to the 10.3”, SatNav is standard and the phone connection is wireless with Bluetooth and DAB. I have the R-Line Edition with the 9.2” screen and it is much easier to ‘stab’ at it on the move without planting yourself in a tree and the resolution is very good.
Passenger space is great with plenty of room for 5 and certainly feels roomier than the A4 or the C-Class and there’s loads of space for all your junk, with large door bins, large glovebox and cupholders. The boot is large and if you need more, plump for the estate.
Fuel economy across the range is very good with the 1.5 TSI returning a very respectable 47.1 mpg and that is good for this size of car. With a low CO2 emission score company drivers will benefit from cheaper BIK rates.
Every Passat is fitted with an automatic emergency braking (AEB) system to help avoid low-speed shunts. There’s a broad array of safety systems on top of that, including standard lane-keeping assistance and an e-call emergency response button. Options include blindspot warning and a system that helps you to reverse park a trailer.
There will be a challenge to consider when buying the Passat, in that the higher up the model/extra’s sheet you go, the closer it gets to rivals that are better. You only need to get halfway up the model/price sheet before you are into the range of the A4, and 3 Series –and there’s the problem. Do you buy a top spec Passat or mid-spec Audi A4? The Passat will certainly be rarer in the car park as every Tom, Dick and Harry seems to have the A4 or 3 Series but do they all have them because they are better cars?
The Passat is now a seriously good car and well worth considering.
Model tested: R-Line 2.0-litre TSI
Engine: 2-litre, BiTDI
Power: 190 bhp
Speed: 0-62 7.5 secs
Top: 150 mph
Economy: 37.2 mpg combined
Price from: £33,280.00
Price as tested: £39,450.00