Used Volkswagen Passat review: 1995-2012
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- Buying tips
Passat is a medium-large German car that appeals to those who refuse to pay big dollars for a similar car from one of the more prestigious marques from the same country. Audi won’t thank us for saying so, but there are quite a few out of sight components that are shared by Passat and upmarket Audi vehicles.
The Passat in all its formats offers better than average comfort thanks to well-shaped seats and suspension which is able to soak up just about anything thrown at it. Handling is good, with virtually neutral road behaviour at normal speeds, gradually changing to safe understeer if the big car is pushed hard.
In the earlier days almost all Passat imports were four-door sedans but with the introduction of the 1998 model, five-door wagons were offered. Wagons have been a popular choice ever since as their squared off rear end makes for a practical load area.
An interesting style called Passat CC was introduced in February 2009. Virtually a four-door coupe in the manner of the Mercedes-Benz CLS, the sleek CC is just right for those who seldom use the back seat but want the convenience of rear doors. The back seat is reasonably comfortable and is certainly much better than that of the typical two-door coupe.
Volkswagen went all cute with the marketing of the latest CC when it arrived in June 2012, dropping the Passat from its name and calling it simply the CC. Don’t forget to check out both names if you’re doing a search for the pretty coupe on used-car sites.
Engine options show a fascinating variation, with four-, five-, six- and eight-cylinder layouts. The V5 and V6 use an interesting design with a narrow-angle V which enables it to run one cylinder head covering both cylinder banks.
Though smaller engines aren’t always accepted by Australian buyers, even the four-cylinder Passats have enough performance for many buyers. Many of the later petrol – and all diesel – Volkswagen engines use a turbocharger to generate significantly extra torque.
Volkswagen started a strong push on turbo-diesel engines in Australia in 2006 and these days the company often sells more diesel cars than petrol ones in Australia.
A four-speed automatic was used in the pre-1998 model, followed by a five-speed unit with tiptronic. The forward ratios were increased to six with a DSG installation from 2006, and to seven forward ratios from early 2010.
All-wheel drive isn't all that common in Australian Passats but gives better traction coming out of corners and on slippery surfaces and is worth considering if you are doing a lot of driving on unmade surfaces, or even on the snow and ice for which it was originally designed.
For the revhead, Volkswagen imported the Passat R36 from June 2008. R36 has a 220 kilowatt engine, all-wheel drive and is sold in both sedan and wagon bodies.
Volkswagen Group Australia has put a lot of work in recent years in getting its supply of spare parts up to international best practice. Prices are similar to those of other European imports in its class. Similarly, the dealer group has grown markedly in recent years and VW is represented in most population centres of significant size.
Passat is a relatively complex machine in the modern manner, but a competent home mechanic should be able to do a fair bit of work on it. Always have a workshop manual on standby, and please leave safety items to professionals.
Insurance is generally not expensive but make inquiries from a number of companies as there can be quite a difference in premiums.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR
Look over the condition of the interior in case the Passat has had a hard life. It’s not common in a car like this, but can happen and rectification can be expensive.
The engine should start within a second of the key being turned and should settle into a steady idle within seconds. If there is a flat spot in acceleration there could be fuel-injection problems.
Check the insides of the front wheels for signs of severe brake dust build up, indicating hard driving. This is more likely on one of the sporting models, but Passats do seem to attract people who like to pedal along hard.
Look over the body for signs of crash repairs, especially paint that doesn’t match and panels that don't fit exactly. Check the complete body, including hard to reach areas under the bonnet, in the boot and under the car.
CAR BUYING TIP
Before settling on any car it makes sense to check on availability of spare parts and servicing in your home and work neighbourhoods.
|Year||Price From||Price To|
Range and Specs
|GL||2.0L, ULP, 4 SP AUTO||$3,000 – 5,170||1995 Volkswagen Passat 1995 GL Pricing and Specs|
|GL VR6||2.8L, ULP, 5 SP MAN||$3,100 – 5,280||1995 Volkswagen Passat 1995 GL VR6 Pricing and Specs|