Our cars: Volkswagen Passat Estate - January 2012
Week ending January 27
Driven this week 550 miles
I swapped my Hyundai i40 Tourer for the Passat Estate this week to see what the competition is like. After spending some time behind the wheel of the VW, I’m impressed.
It feels built like a Chieftain tank; cabin quality is first-rate and the materials feel like they’ll last forever.
The biggest impression, though, is how easy it is to live with. It does everything with the lack of fuss you’d expect from a Volkswagen. The controls are functional and easy to use and the seats are extremely comfortable; after 550 miles this week, my bad back gave me no grief.
I prefer the way my Hyundai looks inside and out, but I can’t fault the Passat in any way. It’s built to do and job and it does that – brilliantly.
VW Passat review
Week ending January 20
Driven this week 801 miles
Having just spent five days in the VW Passat Estate, I have to say I’m a big fan. It’s practical, nice to drive and the manual gearbox is slick.
It also has far better digital radio reception than my Seat Alhambra long-term test car, and the same excellent optional heated windscreen. No ice scraping is involved on icy mornings; simply press a button and a few seconds later the windscreen is clear of frost. The inside is also clear, so you can drive off far more quickly and safely than you can in other cars.
In fact, my biggest issue with the Passat is the fiddly luggage cover. You have to tap it twice for it to retract fully; one tap sends it back only part-way.
Week ending January 13
Driven this week: 365 miles
My eldest daughter had her fifth birthday party last weekend, so I needed a car that would transport people, presents, food, tables and chairs and all other party-related paraphernalia. Our Passat estate stepped up to the plate.
I'm not going to gush about the Passat's load-lugging prowess though – it's an estate car so I fully expected it to cope with carrying lots of stuff.
What was less expected was just how much I enjoyed driving it. Scooting around our village, executing three-point turns, manoeuvring the car in tight spaces, the Passat was surprisingly nimble, thanks to the slick, easy-shifting manual gearbox and perfectly weighted steering.
I'll be asking to borrow this car again.
Week ending January 6
Driven this week 670 miles
Now I know the Passat's Cashmere paint (light brown to you and me) isn't the most striking colour, but it's excellent at masking how grimy the car gets at this time of year.
A trip to Devon for the New Year resulted in 200 damp motorway miles, followed by plenty of time on muddy country lanes. Filthy best describes the car after this, but you'd never know by glancing at the mud-disguising paintwork.
Light brown isn't sexy, but it sure is practical.