Volkswagen Passat Saloon full 9 point review
The 148bhp 2.0-litre diesel engine has a broad spread of pulling power, which means you don’t have to rev it hard to keep up with traffic. It’s also impressively responsive, even from low revs, so we wouldn’t bother with a faster model. The twin-turbo version feels really strong when accelerating, helped by its slick seven-speed automatic gearbox, while four-wheel drive means traction is superb.
Ride & Handling
All the versions we’ve tried have been fitted with optional adaptive shock absorbers, which don’t quite iron out the unsettled ride over scruffy town roads, but do keep things smooth and comfortable over bigger bumps and at higher speeds. The steering is consistently weighted and accurate, and there’s lots of front-end grip and excellent body control, so the Passat feels composed on any road. It’s not as much fun as a Ford Mondeo or Audi A3 Saloon, though.
The 2.0-litre engines are a little gruff at low revs, and the twin-turbo unit is noisier than the 148bhp version when revved hard, but otherwise the Passat is impressively refined. Engine, wind and road noise all fade into the background at motorway speeds, which leaves you nicely cocooned from the outside world. True, models on 18-inch wheels generate some road noise over rough surfaces, but it’s not bad enough to seriously disturb you.
Buying & Owning
The Passat costs a little more than the equivalent Ford Mondeo, but is cheaper than a BMW 3 Series or Mercedes C-Class; in fact, it’s priced pretty similarly to the smaller Audi A3 Saloon. Low CO2 emission figures help to keep company car tax bills modest, and leasing costs are competitive. Resale values are also decently strong, so any depreciation loses won’t be huge.
Quality & Reliability
There’s nothing ground-breaking about the Passat’s interior, but the incredible level of fit and finish and the sumptuous materials make it look and feel suitably upmarket. The Passat was too new to be included in the latest JD Power customer satisfaction survey, but Volkswagen as a brand was rated good for mechanical reliability.
Safety & Security
Not only was the Passat awarded a maximum five-star crash test score by Euro NCAP, it comes with nine airbags and a sophisticated stability control system. SE versions and above are also fitted with a city emergency braking system to help avoid or minimise low-speed shunts, and adaptive cruise control that keeps you a set distance from the vehicle in front. Security experts Thatcham awarded the Passat five out of five for resisting theft, and four out of five for resisting being broken into.
Behind The Wheel
You shouldn’t struggle to find the ideal driving position, thanks to plenty of adjustment to the steering wheel and seat. All versions have a comfortable driver’s seat, but SE models and above get an especially comfortable one, with an adjustable seat cushion angle and electric adjustment of the backrest. The standard touch-screen infotainment system is easy to use, as are the buttons on the centre console. It takes a while to get used to all the controls on the steering wheel, however.
Space & Practicality
There’s loads of space up front, and two tall adults will have plenty of stretching room in the rear seats (a relatively chunky central tunnel makes things a little tight for three people in the back). The big boot will hold a lot of luggage, although the saloon boot opening makes it trickier to load bulky items than it is in hatchback rivals such as the Ford Mondeo. Folding the rear seats is easy, though; simply pull a pair of levers in the boot and the seats automatically fold down.
All versions come with air-conditioning, a digital radio, Bluetooth and alloy wheels, but we’d go for SE, which adds front and rear parking sensors, automatic lights and wipers, and larger wheels. SE Business models get sat-nav, while GT cars also come with leather and Alcantara upholstery, three-zone climate control and heated front seats; both these versions are worth a look. We wouldn’t bother with R-line trim, which is expensive and simply gets sportier looks inside and out.