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Volkswagen Passat sedan and wagon 2015 review

EXPERT RATING
8
Paul Gover road tests and reviews the Volkswagen Passat sedan and wagon with specs, fuel consumption and verdict at its Australian launch.

The new Passat is a strong first step on the path to redemption for the German maker.

Top car, terrible timing.

What else can we say about the all-new Volkswagen Passat?

It's completely new, right at the top of its class, cheaper than the outgoing car and impressive in almost every area.

But the Passat has hit Australia at the height of the worst crisis in the history of VW, as confusion, doubt and anger swirl around the German brand.

That's a pity, because the new Passat looks tough, has a roomier cabin with more equipment and class, arrives with a $34,990 starting price that's down by $4000 and drives well with either petrol or diesel engines.

The key to the eighth-generation Passat program is the Mark 7 Golf, which provided the basic building blocks — VW calls it the MQB platform — for a new generation of models, from the Polo through to the Tiguan. So the Passat is, at its core, the biggest brother of the Golf.

The new bodywork is more masculine and the cabin is simply but effectively designed.

The body is slightly shorter but a longer wheelbase means more cabin space — VW boasts improvements to leg, head and shoulder room — as well as more carrying capacity in both the sedan and wagon. There are also some neat tweaks including carrying hooks and a load-through port in the 60:40 split folding back seat.

"It's not just the space, it's not just the box, it's a dynamic and flexible area," says Luca Popovac, VW Australia product marketing manager .

There are two engines, a 1.8-litre petrol turbo with 132kW/250Nm and a 2-litre turbodiesel with 140kW/400Nm. The petrol engine gets a seven-speed DSG and the diesel is hooked to a six-speed DSG. It also gets stop-start and regenerative braking.

Apart from the two bodies there are three trim grades, from standard to Comfortline and Highline, with VW claiming the latest specification is up to $4000 richer and reflects the most popular equipment choices of the outgoing cars.

On the safety front, the Passat gets five EuroNCAP stars with help from nine airbags, a standard rear-view camera in Australia, driver-fatigue system and automatic safety braking that now works at up to 60km/h.

The cheapest Passat is my favourite

Standard equipment is generous for the class and price. Even the basic Passat gets satnav, cruise control, an "ergoComfort" driver's seat, alloy wheels with matching spare, tinted glass, 6.5-inch colour touchscreen and three-mode driver package that tweaks the steering and throttle response. The Comfortline package adds leather trim, more safety and a bigger 8-inch screen with better satnav, while Highline brings 18-inch alloys, a sunroof and nappa leather.

A new multimedia package supports a full suite of in-car apps, and there are optional Driver Assistance ($1800), Luxury ($3500) and R-Line ($2500-3000) packages that add everything from safety to sports suspension with 19-inch alloys.

The 132 Comfortline is $39,990, while the Highline is $45,990, with an extra $2000 for the wagon.

On the road 

The cheapest Passat is my favourite. It's reasonably equipped, safe, comfy, quiet and drives well.

But I begin my time in a Highline diesel, to see what it's like at the top end of town.

The basics all look good, from a diesel with more shove from the bottom and the driver-adjustable response that means I can puddle in Eco or have fun in Sport. The rear-view screen is big and clear, the driver's seat has the promised comfort with support and I like the clear instruments and the leather-wrapped wheel.

But the ride is a bit brittle, with the car fidgeting over broken surfaces and I'm no fan of a sunroof that steals headroom.

It's the ride that annoys me most, because I know this is a Golf-based Passat and the Golf Seven is one of the cushiest cars I know.

Sliding into the 132 base car makes me happier. The ride is compliant and well controlled, the car corners very well and it's also quiet and relaxed at highway cruising pace.

The base car has plenty of safety stuff, with the promise of a 5-star ANCAP score, the petrol engine performs well — but better in Sport mode — and I'm not missing the bigger multimedia screen.

Verdict

It's a fact that sales of mid-sized cars in Australia are slumping under the rising tide of SUVs, but it's also true that the Passat is at the top of the class and pressing hard for a place in our 2015 COTY shootout.

What's new

Price: The basic Passat is $4000 cheaper, while more expensive models have up to $4000 better value.

Equipment: Rear-view camera finally standard, 9 airbags and 5-star NCAP, lots of app connectivity, even an ergoComfort driver's seat.

Performance: More power from diesel and petrol engines, improved economy with stop-start and regenerative braking, Driver Profile Selector, 6 and 7-speed dual-clutch gearboxes.

Driving: Longer wheelbase and bigger wheels give a sportier feel, cabin very quiet, drives as well as anything in the class.

Design: New body is more aggressive with more personality in a class of relative blandness, cabin quality is good with a simple-but-effective layout.

Check out Ash Westerman's video review of the Volkswagen Passat:

Pricing Guides

$24,888
Based on 94 cars listed for sale in the last 6 months
Lowest Price
$15,990
Highest Price
$33,994

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
118 TSI 1.8L, PULP, 7 SP AUTO $15,990 – 23,990 2015 Volkswagen Passat 2015 118 TSI Pricing and Specs
118 TSI Special 1.8L, PULP, 7 SP AUTO $18,590 – 23,540 2015 Volkswagen Passat 2015 118 TSI Special Pricing and Specs
130 TDI Highline 2.0L, Diesel, 6 SP AUTO $16,880 – 27,000 2015 Volkswagen Passat 2015 130 TDI Highline Pricing and Specs
130 TDI Highline Special 2.0L, Diesel, 6 SP AUTO $21,450 – 27,170 2015 Volkswagen Passat 2015 130 TDI Highline Special Pricing and Specs
EXPERT RATING
8
Pricing Guide

$15,990

Lowest price, based on 94 car listings in the last 6 months

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