Volkswagen Passat first drive

Volkswagen Passat





The eighth generation Volkswagen Passet range of D-segment upper medium sized four door saloons and five door estates is arriving in the UK now.

Passat sales span 41 years with over 22 million global registrations of which 442,000 were to UK customers. 

Prices start at £22,215 for the saloon and the estate carries a £1,530 price premium. The existing CC four door coupe version remains on sale. Volkswagen have a policy of not forecasting future sales but Sally-Anne Norris, VW’s UK Product Manager for Passat said at the media launch this week, “In 2014 in the UK we sold 8,616 Passat saloons, 11,042 estates and 5,288 CCs, this makes the Passat family our fourth best selling model range behind the Golf, Polo and Up. On average previous Passat UK owners have been 50+ years in age and predominately male”. 

She added that over 80% of Passat’s UK sales go to fleet customers. The best selling versions in saloon and estate forms will be the 2.0-litre TDI 150hp with SE and the newly introduced SE Business trim levels. An Alltrack all-terrain estate version will join the range from July and BlueMotion models offering around 78mpg in the Combined Cycle will be available from June. 

But currently the core versions of the all-new range see the SE saloon with the most popular 150hp engine and manual gearbox costing £24,435, the SE Business saloon £25,135, the SE estate £25,965 and the SE Business spec estate £26,665. The SE Business specification level was introduced to the new range at the specific request of business user-chooser and fleet customers. As an example a PCP personal contract purchase three year rate for an SE Business spec Passat with the most popular 150hp engine will start from £374 a month. 

Ms Norris added that the new generation Passat prices start from £1,195 more than the outgoing versions but pointed out that this is an all-new range offering more power, better fuel economy, lower CO2 emissions, a much higher level of specification, the residual values are higher and in most cases the insurance group ratings are lower. 

At launch the new Passat range in the UK has only 1.6 and 2.0-litre diesel engine options ranging in power outputs from 120 to 240hp. This is because in the past only 1% of customers have chosen a petrol engine version. Ms Norris added that if the situation arose where diesel engines started to incur higher levels of taxation due to UK Government or EU future legislation then Volkswagen already has a full range of petrol units which can be quickly added to the model line-up. 

Already planned is a plug-in hybrid GTE option with a 1.4-litre TSI four cylinder petrol engine with on demand cylinder technology and electric motor which will join the range in October. This version, in both saloon and estate body options, will have a 218hp total power output with a range of 621 miles of which 31 miles will be possible in pure electric mode. Emissions will be around 40g/km and company car Benefit-in-Kind tax will be rated at 5%. The hybrid models will qualify for the Governments £5,000 low emission vehicle grant. At this stage VW is not forecasting sales volumes or prices for the hybrid models. 

Volkswagen PassatVolkswagen PassatVolkswagen PassatThe all-new Passat uses an extended version of VW’s highly rated MQB platform, already in use for other VW family models including the Golf, Audi TT and SEAT Leon. The new Passat is up to 85kg lighter than the previous model. It is actually 2mm shorter in length but importantly it has a 79mm longer wheelbase, now 2,791mm, which improves the legroom for rear seat passengers and gives even more load space in the boot or cargo area. The estate, which will make up the majority of UK sales, has 650-litres of load space with the three rear seating positions in use. Fold these down and the space increases to a cavernous 1,780-litres. The wide, square shape of the load bay and the low height rear sill makes it very user-friendly and that sums up the new Passat – very user friendly. 

It also looks very smart and it definitely has more visual kerb-appeal which is important as the Passat edges closer to competing in the premium brand executive class dominated by Audi, BMW, Mercedes-Benz and to a certain extent by Lexus, Volvo, Infiniti and Jaguar. It will also have to compete against the cheaper new and improved Ford Mondeo and of course the Vauxhall Insignia remains the volume seller in the D-segment. 

The new business-class image of the latest Passat continues for the interior. It still looks a shade on the conservative side, a bit under-stated, less glitzy than an Audi, a bit more plain than a BMW and not so classic as a Jaguar but there is some bright-work to lighten the vast amount of dark soft feel trim. The controls are logically well laid out with all models having a centrally positioned display screen. The seats offer more support and help with the improved ride comfort. 

There are five trim and equipment levels, S, SE, SE Business, GT and R-Line and standard features now include, electrically operated windows and mirrors, air conditioning, post-collision automatic braking, alloy wheels and a steel space saver spare wheel, stop-start and miss-fuelling prevention. The popular SE level has adaptive cruise control, pre-crash system, driver’s style selection modes, ergo comfort seats and front and rear parking sensors. The likely best selling SE Business level additions include Discover Navigation and the Car-Net guide and information on-line communication function which will specifically appeal to company car drivers. 

Volkswagen PassatVolkswagen PassatThere of course is the usual wide range of extra cost options ranging from MirrorLink where specific apps on an Android smartphone can be mirrored onto the infotainment touchscreen for £160, Area View front, rear and side camera display for £755, heated steering wheel £135, heated windscreen at £150, Winter Pack which includes heated front seats at £280, Park Assist at £200, the well worthwhile Dynamic Chassis Control giving Sport, Comfort and Normal handling settings costing £700, sound insulating glass for £310 and the XDS electronic system to maximise traction and handling for £185. Later this year Active Info Display becomes an option and we have already experienced this on the new Audi TT. The display replaces the traditional instrument cluster in front of the driver with a fully configurable 12.3-inch screen which includes the sat-nav. Another addition for those that tow trailers or more likely caravans is Trailer Assist. It is similar to Park Assist so it helps manoeuvre the vehicle with the trailer/caravan into its parking position. The system automatically steers the car and attached unit with the driver only operating the accelerator and brake – it is very clever and relatively easy to use. 

At the UK media launch I selected three versions to test drive from the new Passat line-up. The least expensive model in the range is the S spec saloon with the 1.6-litre TDI 120hp turbodiesel engine mated with a six speed manual gearbox. This is priced at £22,215. Officially this version will return 70.6mpg in the Combined Cycle with a real-life 50.2mpg recorded on our test using A/B roads around the North Cotswolds. CO2 emissions are 105g/km so VED road tax is £0 First Year rate increasing to £20 for Year Two onwards. Company car drivers will pay 17% Benefit-in-Kind tax. Top speed is 128mph and zero to 62mph takes just 10.8 seconds which for such a large and spacious car is very commendable. With 250Nm of torque available from 1,750rpm the engine proved responsive and not really underpowered even for a car of this stature. With a 15E insurance group rating, as the first rung on the new Passat ladder, it is more than worthy of consideration as cost effective business-user or private buyer comfortable and roomy transport. The level of equipment with the S spec is perfectly adequate.. 

Next model to come under scrutiny was the likely best selling new Passat of all, the Estate with SE Business spec powered by the 2.0-litre TDI turbodiesel 150hp unit with a six speed manual gearbox. This version costs £26,665 and the insurance group is 19E. As for performance it has a top speed of 135mph and zero to 62mph takes just 8.9 seconds. Officially this will return 68.9mpg in the Combined Cycle and our test drive session returned 45.9mpg. With CO2 emissions of 107g/km VED road tax is the same as the 1.6 TDI unit as is the 17% company car tax. The engine provides just a bit more performance but the difference is minimal. 

Just to sample the optimum performance new Passat we had a brief drive in the near top of the range estate GT with the 2.0-litre Bi-TDI 240hp twin turbocharged unit mated with 4Motion all wheel drive through its standard fit seven-speed DSG twin clutch automatic gearbox. This version is priced at £36,040 and with the same engine and drivetrain the R-Line with racier styling specification costs £37,035 but the performance is the same. Top speed is 147mph and the estate scorches from zero to 62mph in just 6.3 seconds. The Combined Cycle fuel consumption is 52.3mpg and our brisk test drive returned 37.9mpg. The CO2 emissions are 140g/km so road tax is £130 each year. The insurance group rating is 28E which given the performance is appealing. Only around 1.5% of UK Passat customers are expected to choose this impressive twin-turbo power source. With 500Nm of torque from 1,750rpm the surge in acceleration for such a big estate is impressive as is the flexibility of the engine at low in traffic speeds but the overtaking speed engine response when needed is brilliant and straight line acceleration or cornering grip in dry or wet conditions is immense with its all-wheel drive system. 

From the new styling, the improved performance, better agility, lower running costs, impressive ride comfort and build quality, more or less everything about the new Passat impresses. Its image might still be considered to be on the conservative side but given a fair chance to impress it really does. Overall, and at every level of the new range, the new VW Passat can easily be recommended. 

MILESTONES: Volkswagen Passat Estate SE Business 2.0-litre TDI 150hp 6-speed manual (Best selling model). Price: £26,665. Engine/transmission: 2.0-litre, 4-cylinder Euro 6, turbodiesel, 150hp, 340Nm of torque from 1,750rpm, 6-speed manual, front wheel drive. Performance: 135mph, 0-62mph 8.9 seconds, 68.9mpg Combined Cycle (45.9mpg on test), CO2 107g/km, VED road tax £0 First Year rate then £20 per annum Year Two onwards, BIK company car tax 17%. Insurance group: 19E. Warranty: 3-years/60,000-miles. Dimensions/capacities: Five doors, five seats boot/load space 650 to 1,780-litres, L 4,766mm, W 1,832mm, H 1,477mm, braked towing weight 2,000kg. For: Classy exterior styling with improved kerb appeal, spacious, comfortable, agile and precise handling for its size, well equipped, beautifully built, low running costs in this class, overall it is impressive. Against: Conservative interior styling, lots of costly options, needs to now establish itself as a real premium brand sales contender. Miles Better News agency 

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