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Volkswagen Passat 206 TSI R-Line 2017 review

EXPERT RATING
9
Tim Robson road tests and reviews the new VW Passat 206 TSI R-Line, with specs, fuel consumption and verdict at it’s international preview in Switzerland.

Tim Robson road tests and reviews the new VW Passat 206 TSI R-Line, with specs, fuel consumption and verdict at it’s international preview in Switzerland. 

Increasingly, it appears that car buyers are heading for the extreme ends of the size spectrum when it comes to picking a new ride.

At one end is the mid-to-large SUV crowd, intent on accessing as much vehicle as possible for their outlay, while at the other end, ever-smaller crossover cars are hustling out of showrooms as fast as they can be made.

While the large sedan and wagon segment has paid the highest price in terms of sales, the SUV boom is also impacting on the medium sized sector as well, where cars like the Mazda6, Toyota Camry and Ford Mondeo are being easily outsold by SUV equivalents.

But when a car as good as the new Volkswagen Passat 206TSI R-Line is in danger of being left at the altar just because of how high its seats are, it’s on verging a travesty.

Price and features

The Passat R-Line fires straight into the top of the local line-up, starting in sedan form at $57,990 and wagon at $59,990.

Its name comes from the fact that VW’s R-Line package is fitted as standard to the car, along with the usually optional driver’s assistance package.

The 206TSI R-Line will also become the first MY17 Passat to come standard with Volkswagen’s new Active Info Display dash, where a 12.3-inch TFT screen replaces the traditional dash dials.

Unlike its R36 predecessor, which eschewed the notion of fancy trim pieces for a bold visage, the 206TSI R-Line wears a host of silver brightwork.

Leather R-Line sports seats, alloy pedals and paddles, the same flat-bottom leather wheel as the Golf R and more are standard on the Passat, along with tri-zone climate control, Bluetooth-equipped multimedia system with sat nav, LED headlights and more.

It really doesn’t miss out on anything in terms of spec, with the only option (aside from $700 paint) being a $2000 sunroof.

Design

There’s little doubt that the Passat is designed to drop into the executive express carpark and fit right in amongst similarly sized cars from Audi, Mercedes-Benz and BMW.

It’s a bold, masculine shape that just manages to avoid being slab-sided and boxlike. Unlike its R36 predecessor, which eschewed the notion of fancy trim pieces for a bold visage, the 206TSI R-Line wears a host of silver brightwork that extends right through the car’s bodykit extensions, around the windows and across the grille.

The Passat is an amazingly versatile car in wagon form.

It’s this lack of overtly sporty flair that works against the idea of the 206TSI being cast as the true spiritual successor to the R36 – in looks, at least.

It will run on 19-inch rims in local spec, even though we tested it in Germany on 18s without the R-Line styling pack fitted.

Practicality

The Passat is an amazingly versatile car in wagon form. Its electric tailgate opens to reveal a cavernous luggage space; 650 litres behind the seats to be exact, which expands to 1780 litres when the seats are flipped down.

Bonus points, too, for the handy seat releases at the rear of the cargo area, along with shopping bag hooks, cargo cover, load restraint points and a 12-volt socket. The load cover can interfere when larger bags or boxes are stowed, though.

Seating is generous and supportive in all positions, with loads of room throughout the car for five people.

Storage is plentiful, with two cupholders up front and another pair in the flip-down rear centre armrest. A further four bottles can be stowed in the front and rear door pockets.

Rear-seaters can also control the climate via temperature adjusters if they so desire, while the centre console bin is chillable.

Seating is generous and supportive in all positions, with loads of room throughout the car for five people.

Engine and transmission

The same EA888 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder motor that motivates the Golf R is the engine of choice for the Passat 206TSI R-Line, that makes 206kW. This is 15kW down on its European brethren; blame our hot climate for the more conservative engine tune. 

On its home soil of Germany, the 2.0-litre turbo equipped Passat is a rocket, with a mid-range urge that would shame a lot of larger-capacity engines.

VW Australia tells us the torque is rated at a hefty 380Nm at a lowly 1800rpm, and it propels the Passat R-Line to 100km/h from rest in a claimed 5.7sec in wagon guise.

It’s backed by VW’s six-speed DSG auto gearbox and runs a Haldex all-wheel-drive layout. The Passat offers a drive mode select switch that modifies the behavior of the throttle, gearbox and steering, and it also runs VW’s adaptive dampers.

Fuel consumption

No figure for the local spec Passat 206TSI has been provided, but as an indication the Golf R is rated at 7.1 litres per 100km on the combined cycle.

Over 380km of high-speed autobahn and low-speed city driving, we recorded a dash-indicated figure of 10.2L/100km. As per the Golf R, the Passat 206TSI will need Premium 98RON fuel in its 70L tank.

Driving

Our German-spec car is slightly different to what we’ll see in Australia in November; its engine is in the full-house 220kW output tune, and it rides on 18-inch rims and tyres. Ours will be wound back to 206kW and sport larger 19-inch rims with lower-profile tyres, which will firm up the ride.

On its home soil of Germany, the 2.0-litre turbo equipped Passat is a rocket, with a mid-range urge that would shame a lot of larger-capacity engines. Its chassis balance is just right, too, with the 18-inch rims providing a perfect balance between precise handling and a compliant ride.

the Passat 206TSI really wants for almost nothing in terms of specs and appointments.

The all-wheel-drive system, too, is a great addition, providing a more stable, connected feel that ties both ends of the car better than the FWD-only versions.

We’ve tried the 19-inch rims on the Passat before and weren’t totally convinced about them, but we’ll wait until we drive it in November on local soil before we pass a final judgement.

Safety

The five-star Passat 206TSI R-Line is comprehensively equipped with safety kit, including nine airbags (front driver and passenger, driver’s knee airbag, front and rear side airbags and front and rear curtain airbags), emergency city braking which operates at speeds of up to 65km/h, lane departure, adaptive cruise control, side assist and rear traffic alert. 

Ownership

Volkswagen offers a six-year or 90,000km capped price service plan for its petrol Passat, costing $3228 in total. Its biggest service at four years costs $656, with neither brake fluid or pollen filters included in the plan.

It’s covered by a three-year, unlimited kilometre warranty.

Verdict

Sure, it sounds like a total cliché, but it's genuinely difficult to fault the Passat in this spec – other than perhaps on price. For example, its paternal twin, the Skoda Superb, is built on the same platform, offered with the same engine and can be had a few thousand dollars cheaper. 

However, the Passat 206TSI really wants for almost nothing in terms of specs and appointments. Its digital dash wouldn't look out of place in something costing six figures, its drivetrain is flexible, strong and refined, and it's as practical as any sports utility vehicle on sale today. 

Okay, so it misses out on the charisma that made the R36 so oddly endearing, and the Passat's ride on the larger 19-inch rims has been questioned before. 

But if this car can't drag even a few discerning punters back to the medium car sector from SUV land, even just for a look, it'll be a genuine tragedy.

 

Click here to see more Volkswagen Passat pricing and spec info.

Pricing Guides

$37,995
Based on 62 cars listed for sale in the last 6 months
Lowest Price
$22,876
Highest Price
$46,990

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
132 TSI 1.8L, PULP, 7 SP AUTO $22,330 – 27,610 2017 VOLKSWAGEN PASSAT 2017 132 TSI Pricing and Specs
132 TSI Comfortline 1.8L, PULP, 7 SP AUTO $29,350 – 43,990 2017 VOLKSWAGEN PASSAT 2017 132 TSI Comfortline Pricing and Specs
140 TDI Highline 2.0L, Diesel, 6 SP AUTO $22,876 – 44,800 2017 VOLKSWAGEN PASSAT 2017 140 TDI Highline Pricing and Specs
206TSI R-LINE 2.0L, PULP, 6 SP AUTO $33,989 – 46,990 2017 VOLKSWAGEN PASSAT 2017 206TSI R-LINE Pricing and Specs
EXPERT RATING
9
Tim Robson
Contributing Journalist

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