When: January 2011
What: Volkswagen Passat 2.0-litre TDI BlueMotion
Occasion: Irish Test Drive
Inside & Out: 8/10
The Volkswagen Passat has been on sale in Ireland for a few weeks now and they are already starting to be a familiar sight, quite simply because there has been a long line of people waiting to get another one. This new seventh generation model isn't all that radically different to the one it replaces, from a visual point of view. However, there is an imposing new grille that makes it look more like the VW Phaeton, a car that only sold in single digit numbers here in Ireland in any given year. The rear end of the Passat has been improved too and these are distinctive clues to the car's new identity.
The really clever stuff goes on inside though as there has been a marked improvement to the cabin. Gone is the silly, fiddly electronic handbrake, to be replaced by a slightly less silly and fiddly electronic handbrake. The fit and finish are really very good and there is now more of an executive feel to the cabin. This makes the car feel closer to an Audi and distances it from rivals from Toyota and Ford.
Engine & Transmission: 9/10
The engine line-up consists of a 1.4-litre TSI 122hp petrol unit and then a raft of diesel options, starting with a 105hp 1.6-litre and moving up to a 2.0-litre with a choice of 140- and 170hp. We tested the 140hp 2.0-litre diesel fitted with the DSG automatic transmission. It serves two purposes: it can be ultra smooth as an automatic and then if you do want to change gears manually you can.
The 2.0-litre 140hp diesel engine is probably the best all-rounder as it comes in at a good price point and also has plenty of power, pulling well. This is a car that is made for motorway cruising though despite the power and presence of a DSG gearbox, emissions are still low at 135g/km putting the car in motor tax Band B - with annual road tax of €156.
Ride & Handling: 7/10
The VW Passat is very comfortable and the set-up of the car appears to be aimed at making this ideal as somewhere to spend lots of time and cover lots of kilometres. The Passat have improved in terms of handling too over the years and the steering is a little more direct now than in previous incarnations of the car. It doesn't feel as 'flickable' as a Ford Mondeo does, but then few potential Passat owners are going to worry about this too much.
Equipment, Economy & Value for Money: 8/10
The Passat comes in three grades, starting at the base Trendline level, which has 16-inch steel wheels with hubcaps. But you do at least get manual air conditioning, all-round electric windows, aux-input for your mp3 player, ESP stability control and lots of airbags.
Add another €1,900 and you get the Comfortline grade we tested, which adds the 16-inch alloy wheels, climate control and a multi-function display to name but a few. Another €1,800 gets you the Highline model, which boasts 17-inch 'Michigan' alloys, Alcantara bits for the upholstery, heated front seats, a CD changer, tyre pressure monitoring system and a full-size spare wheel.
Fuel economy at 5.2 litres/100km is very impressive, as is the fact that emissions are just 135g/km. It should be noted that all the diesel variants with a manual transmission are in Band A, so annual road tax will be just €104.
CompleteCar Index: 8/10
This new VW Passat is bound to be a strong seller in 2011 for lots of reasons. It is well-priced for a start and with the balanced engine range it is thankfully good value to run too.
Volkswagen Passat 2.0-litre TDI 140hp DSG:
Engine: 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder diesel
Maximum power: 140hp at 4,200rpm
Maximum torque: 320Nm at 1,750rpm
Acceleration (0-100km/h): 9.8 seconds
Maximum speed: 211 km/h
Fuel economy (combined cycle): 5.2 litres/100km (54.3mpg)
CO2 emissions: 135g/km
Motor tax band: B
Annual road tax: €156
Retail price: Official price of test car without options is €32,885