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VW Passat 2020 review: 140TSI Business Wagon

The Passat wagon remains the most sensible, most conservative looking model in Volkswagen’s line-up.
EXPERT RATING
8
Is the Passat 140TSI Business wagon just a briefcase on wheels or a great reason not to go for an SUV?

As if the Passat couldn’t look any more like a company car, when it was updated late last year Volkswagen named the new version of its large sedan and wagon the ‘Business’.

It makes sense. I mean calling the Passat something it’s not would be silly. Can you imagine the Passat Arouse? The Passat Danger King? The Passat Wrestle? Nope, this is not Peugeot, it’s Volkswagen.

Yes, in the history of aptly named things, nothing has been more aptly named than the Passat Business, especially the wagon.

For formal occasions this Passat calls itself the Passat 140TSI Business and I’ll explain what that all means below.

So, along with the new name what else is new for the updated Passat? Is it all just business as usual or could the Passat wagon be the best reason not to buy an SUV for your family?

Volkswagen Passat 2020: 140TSI BUSINESS
Safety rating
Engine Type2.0L turbo
Fuel TypePremium Unleaded Petrol
Fuel Efficiency6.6L/100km
Seating5 seats
Price from$47,990

Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?   8/10

The 140TSI Business has a list price of $47,990. You’re essentially paying $2K more than the sedan for the privilege of having a really big boot. How big? We’ll get to that in the practicality section below.

For now, let’s look at the standard features which include a new multimedia system with an 8.0-inch screen and wireless Apple CarPlay (you’ll need a cord for Android Auto), there’s sat nav, an eight-speaker stereo, leather upholstery, three-zone climate control, proximity key, tinted glass, roof rails and 18-inch alloy wheels.

That’s good value and we haven’t reached the new safety tech, yet - keep reading or skip ahead to that bit.

The 8.0-inch multimedia touchscreen comes with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The 8.0-inch multimedia touchscreen comes with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

What are the Passat 140TSI Business wagon’s rivals? There’s the closely related Skoda Superb wagon, which in 162 TSI form is a smart buy for $45,690.

Also have a look at the Mazda6 wagon, the GT lists for $47,290. I reckon you could get a pretty great deal on a Holden Commodore Sportwagon RS-V which normally list for $49,190. That is provided you’re reading this before Holden closes up shop at the end of 2020.

There aren’t many other wagons in the price range – the Volvo V60 is $56,990, the Peugeot 508 GT wagon is $55,990 and Mercedes-Benz C-Class Estate and BMW 3 Series Touring start at about $70K.   

Is there anything interesting about its design?   7/10

The updated Passat had more changes made to its cabin technology and safety equipment list than to its appearance, but there are a couple of cosmetic tweaks.

The front bumper and grille have a new design with a ‘pinched’ effect to the styling of the fog lights compared to the more horizontal and squared off look of the previous Passat.

Despite the styling changes, the Passat wagon remains sensible. Despite the styling changes, the Passat wagon remains sensible.

The rear of the wagon was refined further with sleeker tail-lights and the letters P A S S A T spaced across the centre of the tailgate, using a similar typeface to the font applied to the new-gen Volkswagen Touareg.

Despite the styling changes the Passat wagon remains the most sensible, most conservative, most business-like model in Volkswagen’s line-up, especially in our test car's 'Pure White' finish.

The rear of the wagon has the letters P A S S A T spaced across the centre of the tailgate. The rear of the wagon has the letters P A S S A T spaced across the centre of the tailgate.

That’s not a bad thing, unless you’re looking for something more emotive, or in another colour, like grey, or blue or black, which is the Passat’s entire paint palette. These are also the colours of the suits in my wardrobe. Apart from white, that is. 

Again, the cabin of this new Passat is much like the previous one: business class all the way, with premium but restrained styling applied to the broad flat dash, comfortable but not lounge-like leather seats and modern media system.

The cockpit is open and spacious. The cockpit is open and spacious.

The Passat wagon is 4773mm in length, 1832mm wide and 1477mm tall. How does that compare to the sedan version? Well the sedan is about 2.0mm longer, the same amount wider and about 20mm shorter in height. All riveting facts which will stun and amaze your friends, I’m sure.

How practical is the space inside?   8/10

Nobody buys a wagon accidentally. Nope, they’re bought by those who need cargo space almost as much as they need room for people. But not all wagons offer as much utility as the Passat version.

See, while the Passat loses points for its lack of sleekness and sporty styling it makes up for it in interior space thanks to its almost panel van, slab-like dimensions.

The Passat is a five-seater and with the second-row seats in place there’s 650 litres of boot space.

  • With the second-row seats in place there’s 650 litres of boot space. With the second-row seats in place there’s 650 litres of boot space.
  • Fold the rear seats flat and the cargo capacity grows to 1780 litres. Fold the rear seats flat and the cargo capacity grows to 1780 litres.
  • We were able to fit the all the CarsGuide suitcases with space to spare. We were able to fit the all the CarsGuide suitcases with space to spare.
  • The low load lip and wide boot opening make the Passat wagon’s boot truly useful. The low load lip and wide boot opening make the Passat wagon’s boot truly useful.

Take a look at the images to see what that means in real-world terms – we were able to fit the CarsGuide luggage and pram in with room to spare.

The low load lip, wide boot opening, handy bag hooks, partitioned storage areas behind the wheel arches, and an extendable net to divide off the second row from the cargo area make the Passat wagon’s boot truly useful. I’d definitely buy a cargo net, though, to stop your groceries rolling around.

Quick release levers unlatch the back seats to fold them flat and then Passat offers a cavernous 1780 litres cargo capacity.  

Cabin storage is also great with three cupholders in the second row and two more up front, a decent sized centre console bin and super large door pockets all around.

People room is excellent. The cockpit is open and spacious, even for me with my 2.0-metre wingspan, while I can sit behind my driving position with about 50mm to spare between my knees and the seat back.

The Passat has comfortable but not lounge-like leather seats. The Passat has comfortable but not lounge-like leather seats.

As a dad, the first things I look for when gauging a vehicle's family friendliness are directional air vents and sunshades in the rear.

In Australian summers, these are good to have, and the Passat Business wagon comes standard with both. There’s climate control in the rear, too.

For charging and power outlets older USB-A ports were phased out in this update, replaced by the new USB-C sockets – two in the front and one for the second row.

The Passat’s ride height means my five-year old could climb in easily. The Passat’s ride height means my five-year old could climb in easily.

Keeping it old school are three 12-volt outlets – one in the front, another in the second row and a third in the cargo area.

The Passat’s ride height means my five-year old could climb in easily, but meant I had to bend more than I would for an SUV to buckle him into his seat.

So, while the Passat wagon ticks many family boxes, parents may find the bending literally a pain in the back.

What are the key stats for the engine and transmission?   8/10

The update to the Passat late last year brought more than just new USB ports, there’s a new engine, too.

The 1.8-litre was swapped for 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo-petrol making 8.0kW more power at 140kW (that’s where the 140TSI in the name comes from) and 70Nm more torque at 320Nm.

That’s quite a stack more grunt and it all goes to the front wheels only.

The 2.0-litre turbo four-cylinder produces 140kW/320Nm. The 2.0-litre turbo four-cylinder produces 140kW/320Nm.

Shifting gears is a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic. It’s fairly smooth in slow traffic but better suited to motorways and country roads where fewer gear changes cause less hesitation in the transmission.

Acceleration is swift for the class with 0-100km/h coming up in 8.1 seconds.  

How much fuel does it consume?   7/10

The Passat wagon got the full family workout in this test. Specifically, 249.5km of Newcastle to Sydney motorway back from the grandparents, daily work commutes into the city, preschool drop offs and pick ups and the weekly shopping trip.

Filling the (66-litre) tank back up to full needed just 23.10L of premium unleaded which works out to be 9.3L/100km. Not bad at all, although Volkswagen says over a combination of open and urban roads you should see 6.6L/100km.

What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating?   9/10

The Volkswagen Passat scored the maximum five-star ANCAP rating when it was tested in 2015, but more advanced safety features were added when the car was updated last year.

This included the 'Travel Assist' system which is a higher level of adaptive cruise control combining lane keeping assistance and speed recognition of the car in front.

Also standard is AEB, which operates when maneuvering forwards and backwards, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, auto parking (parallel and perpendicular) driver fatigue detection, a reversing camera, plus front and rear parking sensors.

For child seats you’ll find three top tether anchor points and two ISOFIX mounts across the second row.

That’s an outstanding armoury of potentially life-saving equipment, topped off by a full-sized spare alloy wheel under the boot floor.

Warranty & Safety Rating

Basic Warranty

5 years / unlimited km warranty

ANCAP Safety Rating

ANCAP logo

What does it cost to own? What warranty is offered?   9/10

The Passat is covered by Volkswagen’s five-year/unlimited kilometre warranty.

Servicing is recommended at 12 month/15,000km intervals and you can expect to pay $458 for the first service, $660 for the second, $552 for the third, $873 for the fourth, and $458 for the fifth visit.

What's it like to drive?   8/10

Really, the true sports utility vehicles are wagons because they have as much utility as an SUV but in most cases are more naturally sporty thanks to their lower centre of mass.

That was the case driving the Passat wagon which was far more planted and stable than any regular SUV.

True to its name, the 140TSI Business wagon is an easy, comfortable and effortless car to drive.

But, let’s say you’re running late for a radio interview and you need to get where you're going as quickly (and legally) as possible. The Passat is able to match that urgency with the dynamics and performance needed. I made it by the way, with time to spare.

There’s a decent amount of torque, all going to the front wheels and if that accelerator pedal is poked with a bit too much enthusiasm it's not hard to cause a loss traction. You just have to remember not to be so heavy footed. The Passat I tested wore 235/45/R18 Pirelli Cinturato P7 which are an excellent tyre.

The Passat Business wagon wears 18-inch alloy wheels. The Passat Business wagon wears 18-inch alloy wheels.

An 11.7m turning circle isn’t fantastic, but I didn’t notice it hindering my daily use.

As for towing, although I didn’t do any, Volkswagen says the Passat 140TSI Business wagon has a braked towing capacity of 1800kg.

Verdict

The Passat 140TSI Business wagon is one of the best excuses for not buying an SUV like seemingly everybody else. Not only is it effortless to drive, its updated safety tech is outstanding, it’s practical and the value is excellent. More than just business class, it’s family proof, too.

Pricing guides

$46,990
Based on Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP)
Lowest Price
$45,990
Highest Price
$47,990

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
140TSI BUSINESS 2.0L, PULP, 7 SP AUTO $45,990 2020 Volkswagen Passat 2020 140TSI BUSINESS Pricing and Specs
140TSI BUSINESS 2.0L, PULP, 7 SP AUTO $47,990 2020 Volkswagen Passat 2020 140TSI BUSINESS Pricing and Specs
EXPERT RATING
8
Price and features8
Design7
Practicality8
Engine & trans8
Fuel consumption7
Safety9
Ownership9
Driving8
Richard Berry
Senior Journalist

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Pricing Guide

$47,990

Lowest price, based on new car retail price

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