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Andrew Chesterton road tests and reviews the new Volkswagen Passat 206TSI R-Line sedan with specs, fuel consumption and verdict.
Like flat-brimmed baseball caps, skinny jeans and the unnecessary abbreviation of words, hot hatches have a habit of becoming 'totes awks' once you reach a certain age.
And it’s not just the shouty looks. They’re also often loud, harsh and almost uniformly uncomfortable, with their rock-hard suspension, shadow-thin insulation and exhausting steering.
And that’s what makes the VW Passat 206TSI R-Line such a tempting prospect. Because it’s none of those things.
In fact, this go-fast Passat looks like little more than a well-specified example of VW’s mid-size sedan. But there’s a secret hiding under that shapely bonnet: the fast-beating heart of the Golf R hot hatch.
The 206TSI R-Line, available as a sedan or a wagon, is being touted as the spiritual successor to the V6-powered R36 Passat of old, even if it offers slightly less power and a less in-your-face exterior style than that model. What it does offer, however, is a turbocharged 2.0-litre which will fire 206kW and 350Nm to all four wheels.
And that means you’ll be clipping 100km/h in 5.5secs (faster than the old R36), with selectable driving modes and an adaptive chassis coming along for the ride.
But all that go-fast stuff is only part of the story, with the Passat 206TSI R-Line equally at home cruising the city streets in quiet comfort.
The 206TSi R-Line carves a new place at the top of the Passat family tree, sitting above the 132TSI and 140TDI variants. While its $57,990 asking price (the wagon variant is $2k more) is a significant investment, it arrives undeniably well equipped. In fact, only metallic paint and a sunroof make an appearance on a lonely options list.
Outside, you’ll find 19-inch alloys and the sportier front end of the R-Line pack, while inside you get leather R-Line sports seats, alloy pedals and paddles and the same flat-bottom leather-trimmed wheel as the Golf R. You can also expect three-zone climate control, proximity unlocking and push-button start.
The Passat largely hides its performance credentials behind an understated exterior design.
But the headline act in the interior is the 'Active Info Display' dash, with the 206TSI R-Line scoring the 12.3-inch digital screen that replaces the traditional gauges in the driver's binnacle. It’s a genuinely stunning piece of technology, and one that makes using functions like the navigation system an absolute breeze.
Simple, subtle and anything but boy-racer, VW’s executive express does a stellar job of blending in with the other Euro metal in the company car park.
While the as-standard R-Line pack adds 19-inch alloys, a slightly more aggressive front end and a pair of chrome-tipped exhaust outlets, the Passat largely hides its performance credentials behind an understated exterior design.
A wide flat bonnet is accentuated by headlight-to-headlight horizontal grille lines. Two sharp bonnet creases join the two body lines running front to back, while the low-slung roof drops away to meet a surprisingly spacious boot.
Inside, the 8.0-inch screen takes centre stage in a simple and uncluttered dash layout, while the Golf R’s chrome-brushed, flat-bottomed steering wheel adds a slightly sporty flavour.
The Passat 206 TSI R-Line is powered by a turbocharged 2.0-litre engine that will generate 206kW at 5600rpm and 350Nm from 1700rpm. The power is channelled through a six-speed DSG (dual-clutch) gearbox and sent to all four wheels. And that is enough to push the big Passat from 0-100km/h in 5.5secs (5.7secs in the wagon).
The top-tier Passat will sip a claimed/combined 7.3L/100km, but you can expect that number to climb if you put the turbocharged engine to good use. VW pegs its C02 emissions at 166g/km.
The Golf R is one of our favourite go-fast hatchbacks, and transferring the critical bits to the Passat has done nothing to dampen our enthusiasm. In fact, we might even like the Passat more.
VW’s engineers have done a cracking job of balancing the Passat’s performance with the ability to putter along comfortably when you want it to, and if you don’t plant your foot you can easily forget you’re driving anything resembling a performance car.
It doesn’t feel quite as razor-sharp from behind the wheel, and it lacks some of the theatrics of the R.
It never feels tightly wound, especially in Comfort mode where the steering is light but engaged, the acceleration smooth and the suspension supple enough to swallow most road imperfections without fuss. The cabin is quiet, and even the figure-hugging R-Line seats (the only visible interior nod to the Passat’s performance credentials) are comfortable.
But engage Sport mode and the Passat immediately shifts its character. The exhaust takes on a delightful bark, the accelerator suddenly responds to feather-light commands and the steering becomes noticeably heavier. More importantly, it genuinely teleports forwards when you stamp on the accelerator. There is still that moment of pause as the turbo gathers its wits, but when power does arrive it does so with a intoxicating rush, accompanied by a new found anger in the exhaust note.
It’s heavier than the Golf R (1435kg vs 1589kg), but it will clip 100km/h in an identical 5.5 seconds, That said, it doesn’t feel quite as razor-sharp from behind the wheel, and it lacks some of the theatrics of the R, too. But the trade off is the ability to switch from Sport back to Comfort or Normal, and the Passat becomes your standard executive express, with barely a hint of aggression as it quietly and calmly goes about its business.
The Passat 206TSI R-Line measures 4767mm long, 1832mm wide, and there’s no shortage of space in both the front and rear seats.
There’s a smattering of Skoda-style niceties scattered throughout the cabin, too, like three 12V charging sockets, including one in the boot where you’ll also find an as-standard luggage net and hooks for your shopping bags. The cupholder count sits at five, with two in the front and three hidden in a pull-down divider that separates the back seat. There are also two ISOFIX attachment points, one in each window seat in the back.
That shapely boot opens to reveal 586 litres of luggage space in a long and deep opening, and the 60/40 rear seats drop at the push of a button, with capacity growing to 1152 litres.
The top-spec Passat gets the best of VW’s safety equipment as standard, including nine airbags (two front, two front sides and two curtain airbags, as well as driver’s knee bag and two extra side airbags for the rear seat riders), along with front and rear parking sensors and a reversing camera. Standard fare also includes a fatigue detection system, auto emergency braking and lane assist. The Driver Assistance Pack also arrives as standard, adding adaptive cruise control and side assist (lane change warning system).
Like the rest of the Passat range, VW offers a three-year, unlimited kilometre warranty on the Passat 206TSI R-Line, with service intervals pegged at 12 months or 15,000km. VW’s capped price serving scheme limits service costs to $3,471 for the first five services.
|132 TSI||1.8L, PULP, 7 SP AUTO||$22,990 – 26,988||2017 Volkswagen Passat 2017 132 TSI Pricing and Specs|
|132 TSI Comfortline||1.8L, PULP, 7 SP AUTO||$17,989 – 34,999||2017 Volkswagen Passat 2017 132 TSI Comfortline Pricing and Specs|
|140 TDI Highline||2.0L, Diesel, 6 SP AUTO||$22,990 – 34,990||2017 Volkswagen Passat 2017 140 TDI Highline Pricing and Specs|
|206TSI R-LINE||2.0L, PULP, 6 SP AUTO||$30,990 – 45,800||2017 Volkswagen Passat 2017 206TSI R-LINE Pricing and Specs|