Wednesday, May 01, 2013

VW Passat TDI test Drive

The current Passat is quite a good-looking car, in a very conservative way.

It looks big and pretty impressive in person. It has a classic German look with a bit of really modern, simple design touches up front.
It is not as slick as the new Ford Fusion or Kia Optima. But it looks more upscale and is a much more mature design than the Accord or Camry. 

The interior is another story…

Sure, it looks and feels a bit more upscale than the Jetta, but not by much. There are still too much cheap plastics in to many places. And the whole design is really depressing. Especially in grey. With that cheap looking metal trim everywhere…

It might be the worse looking interior in its class. There is not one interesting shape, design element around. The rear view mirror looks like it came from Pep Boys. And the dials for the air conditioning look and feel cheaper than most cars out there.
(At least the standard stereo sounds really good)

It is actually much worse than the previous Passat’s interior. The one that came out 2005!

But it is big. The back seat is one of the roomiest around. You would have to get a full sized model to get that much room. 

The 1st time I started the car, it sounded pretty loud. Louder than other VW diesel models like the Jetta and the Golf.
Not sure if it got quieter of if I got used to it, but I didn’t seem to notice it that much other times.

The engine is a pleasure to drive, as usual. With lots of power all the time. 
The 6-speed manual is really nice. Although, like with other VW 6 speed transmissions, shifting into 1st can be a bit rough at times.
While it is nice of VW to offer a manual in the Passat, it is restricted to the base or SE models. Which means no leather, GPS or sunroof. It’s like being punished for enjoying shifting your own gears…

Steering is a bit too light for my taste. Even if it feels pretty accurate on the freeway. It still isn’t as tight as you would expect from a German car.

The suspension is always very comfortable and the car feels solid. Although not as much as the new Malibu or the Buick Regal.

The TDI is rated at 31City and 43Hwy. (the automatic TDI is rated at 30/40).
I did match the city rating. But as usual, I got much more on the freeway. During my trip to the desert, I averaged 51MPG. Quite an amazing number for such a large and roomy car. And the ride was one of the quietest I have experienced in a long time.

With the new Passat, VW has succeeded in making an American car. A car built in the US and not sold in Europe.

They have taken most of the German character that people want when they are getting a VW. Which is really weird. 
The ride is comfortable but a bit too soft. The steering is too light. The doors don’t make that super solid sound when you close them. The interior is cheap.

The Malibu I drove the week before felt much more like a European car than the Passat. And so does the Buick Regal.

Although I am a big fan of VW's 2.0 Liter Diesel engine, it is competing with many other sedans getting almost 40MPG these days. Using much cheaper regular gas.
Besides a better range, I don’t think there is a financial advantage to the TDI in the US.

The model I drove was the TDI SE. Without any options. At $26 225. Or about $2000 more than the regular 2.5L SE.

The only thing the Passat offers is a larger back seat than the competition. I am not sure it will be enough to keep it competitive in the next 4 years or so…


Anonymous said...

Vince, you forgot to mention that the Passat offers more repairs too, and you can get them with the base model.

Anonymous said...

Wow, do these things look bad or what? The exterior is textbook safe , and right out of last decade. As well, the interior really and truely is almost identical ( dash centre stack) to the 1995 Nissan Altima, look it up. VW will suffer great falls in sales stats because of this and with the likes of some stiff, stylish competition.

Anonymous said...

Room is important when you're over 6' tall; and have kids just as tall or taller. I'd buy it in a heartbeat just for the room alone. Done deal!

Anonymous said...

There are so many cars out there that are better looking, have nicer interiors, get great fuel economy and are reliable. Volkswagen dealerships used to be the worst, not sure if that has improved at all. As a former VW Passat owner I can say that even if someone erased my memory of the horrific previous ownership experience, there is nothing about this car that would even entice me to look in the window of the car if it were parked next to me, not to mention walk into a dealership to buy one.

Dav said...

The saddest thing is that this exterior design is a less attractive rip-off of the 9th generation Chevy Impala, a car that was no 'looker' when it was introduced back in 2005.

Every time I see one of these 'newish' Passats on the road, all I can think is that the driver must have completely given up on any hope of driving something remotely interesting.

Anonymous said...

Sooo...This is the new Pep Boys Passat? Maybe VW should have sold it to Motortrend since they do nothing but praise this craptasic mobile (Im sure VW pays MotorTrend a lot of money for their praise).