The new Volkswagen Passat has landed, bringing with it a declaration from Volkswagen that it bridges the gap between the upper medium and premium classes. As it turns out, Volkswagen is not at all misguided in making this claim as they’ve certainly succeeded in enhancing the already accomplished Passat.
Delivered and freshly unpacked for 2015, the new Passat is more comfortable, better equipped, and just that bit more special than the outgoing model. It’s a very, very good car. However, to ensure you get the best out of the new Passat you’ll need to make sure you choose carefully and hit the sweet spot of the range.
What elevates the new Passat to being a car capable of existing as a bridge between the two classes previously mentioned isn’t any kind of drastic revolution. Instead, VW have given the Passat a vehicle-wide string of small but necessary changes – starting with its face. The re-styled front end makes the car far easier on the eye and it’s actually a rather pretty machine now, elegant but not in the slightest bit flashy. The rear of the car isn’t much different from the previous generation but it doesn’t really need to be, it’s just a bit of a missed opportunity to elaborate on the excellent work done on the front end. Overall there are some very tidy lines on the car and the subtle touches really set it off.
I’d had some bad experiences with other Volkswagen touchscreen systems but I’m happy to report any issues seem to have been sorted in the new car. The touchscreen functions much better than the version I had in the last Passat, not requiring any jabbing motions which is a problem which can frustrate drivers enormously. The interior in general is a step up especially in the middle of the range, a particular highlight being the integration of the air flow vents into a cross-dash line design reminiscent of the front grill. The leather seats are some of the comfiest I’ve had the pleasure of sitting in recently, and if you’re feeling extra naughty you’ll pick the heated steering wheel option for extra winter-time cosiness.
Currently there is only a line-up of diesel engines to cast judgement over. Petrol and hybrid models are set to arrive later on this year but it is obviously the diesels that will be the biggest sellers. Of those engines on offer, the 148bhp 2-litre TDI is the pick of the bunch providing a smoother, swifter, and generally more enjoyable drive than the cheaper 1.6-litre 118bhp option. There are a couple of more powerful engine options, but you’re really going to be spending a little more than you need to if you opt for one of those. The 187bhp version doesn’t really feel that much quicker than the 148bhp, and for around £1300 I can’t hold my hand on my heart and say it’s worth the extra outlay. Instead, I’d recommend putting that money towards the automatic DSG gearbox option – a smooth box befitting of this smooth riding machine.
Sitting at the very top of the new Passat’s current range is the new bi-turbo diesel. It feels as rapid as the hefty 237bhp quoted output, said to reach 62mph in 6.1 seconds. If it is this engine you absolutely must have, you’ll only be able to have it with the automatic DSG gearbox and Volkswagen’s ‘4MOTION’ four-wheel drive system. So, what is the cost of this powerful new unit in the saloon? Well it starts at around the £34,500, and that’s before you begin to pick some options. A new Passat in estate form combined with a few options will be getting on for £40k. This appears to be slightly risky territory for Volkswagen, as in water that deep its well-equipped compatriots (the BMW 3 series and Mercedes C-Class) are the better cars – but no longer by the same margin.
On the road the new Passat is a composed and extremely comfortable car. I would quite happily travel cross-continent in one of these, especially with the improvements made to the infotainment system and the excellent leather seating. There isn’t really a sporty bone (or part if you wish) in its body, but I like that. Sure, the steering isn’t full of feel and it doesn’t carve lines through corners but there’s no reason to make the Passat into something it shouldn’t be. It should simply be as comfortable and as relaxing as possible and that is exactly what it is, easily on an equal footing with more illustrious rivals.
So where is this sweet spot in the range? Keep it under £28,000 and you’ll be in the right region. DSG and leather seating are a must have, but you may also want to wait until later this year before you put in your order. Curiously, some of Volkswagen’s interior tech options on the new car aren’t ready for order yet, with a heads up display and an active display system similar to that seen in the new Audi TT arriving later this year. With the hybrid and petrol powered cars also a few months away, there may well be cause to hold fire for now.
Whatever buyers choose, I cannot see them being anything less than delighted with the new Passat. It is definitely a car you can drive all day and that supremely comfortable, spacious interior will be a good friend to many a long distance drive. The new Volkswagen Passat is an astute and confident car worthy of serious consideration for anybody buying into this sector of the market.
2015 Volkswagen Passat Specifications
|Performance & Economy||1.6 TDI S Saloon||2.0 TDI SE Business Estate||2.0 BITDI R-Line Estate|
|Engine||1.6-litre 4-cylinder turbocharged diesel||2.0-litre 4-cylinder turbocharged diesel||2.0-litre 4-cylinder twin-turbocharged diesel|
|Transmission||6-speed manual, front-engined, front-wheel drive||6-speed dual-clutch automatic, front-engined, front-wheel drive||6-speed dual-clutch automatic, front-engined, front-wheel drive|
|Power (PS / bhp)||120 / 118 @ 3,600rpm||150 / 147 @ 3,500rpm||240 / 236 @ 4,000rpm|
|Torque (Nm / lb.ft)||250 / 185 @ 1,750rpm||340 / 251 @ 1,750rpm||500 / 369 @ 1,750rpm|
|0 - 62 mph (seconds)||TBA||8.9||6.3|
|Top Speed (mph)||TBA||134||148|
|CO2 Emissions (g/km)||105||119||140|
|Combined Economy (mpg)||70.6||62.8||52.3|