Our cars: Volkswagen Passat Estate - April 2012
Week ending April 27
Current mileage 17,317
Miles driven this week 747
Volkswagen Passat Estate review
My friend and I went to the RAF museum in Cosford at the weekend. Thankfully, we were in the Passat. The more I drive it, the more I appreciate its comfort, refinement and solidity on the motorway. I was especially glad on this journey, because at times the rain was lashing down (it is April, after all).
The day’s stats were 368 miles in six hours and 40 minutes, at an average of 50.2mpg. As an economical motorway cruiser, the Passat is right up there with the best in the class.
Barnaby's VW Passat on video
Week ending April 20
Current mileage 16,570
Miles driven this week 455
A return trip up the M1 to Milton Keynes this week gave me my first long drive in our Passat, and what an eye-opener it was.
The admirable cruising ability and the comfort and refinement of the spacious interior were all to be expected, and that it inspired complete confidence at motorway speeds in torrential rain was hardly surprising. What was more of a revelation was how well balanced the car is.
By balance I mean the correlation between the weights of the major controls, the steering, the pedals and the gearbox, and the responses from them.
It’s common these days for a new car to have light steering, which is usually good, but it’s often coupled with a pedal or a gearbox that requires a bit too much effort, which is not so good. The differences between the efforts required to use these controls can detract from your enjoyment.
No such worries in the Passat, though; the steering, pedals and gearbox are all light and easy to use, and all work in harmony – no wonder it feels so relaxing on a long journey. It’s a fine example of VW’s attention to detail.
However, there is a small and rather cheap-looking analogue clock that's positioned in the centre of the dash and angled in such a way that it’s almost unreadable in sunlight. It rather lets the classy interior down, to be honest. It’s also superfluous, because there are digital timepieces on the infotainment screen and on the instrument panel.
Even in VW-land, all is not quite perfect.
Week ending April 6
Current mileage 16,386
Miles driven this week 775
After a thoroughly pleasant Easter weekend in Devon, it was time for the thoroughly unpleasant Easter drive home to Middlesex.
It was raining, the world and his wife were travelling on the M5, and all the other major routes were jammed, so we had no choice but to crawl our way home.
Thankfully, we were in the Passat Estate, so there was plenty of stretching space in the front and rear seats, and the boot swallowed three people's holiday luggage. I hadn't given them much thought before, but I was also grateful for the quiet wipers.
Including regular stops at the services, the 212-mile journey took a little over five hours. The trip computer showed an average of 50.1mpg, which was good considering the amount of time we'd spent in first and second gears.
When you've got a long way to go, a lot of stuff to take with you, and the conditions are against you, the Passat is pretty much spot-on.
Week ending April 6
Current mileage 15,611
Driven this week 822 miles
A digital radio is standard on my SE-spec Passat. Very good it is, too. The reception hardly ever drops off, unlike in some cars with a digital radio, and the stations sound far better than their FM or AM equivalents. Once you've set up the presets, it's easy to quickly switch between your favourites, and the huge choice of broadcasts means there's a radio station to suit my every mood.
I'm used to digital radio at home; I'd now find it hard to live without in-car DAB as well.