IT is a warm, dry and windy Saturday morning as I arrive at Volkswagen’s showroom in Bethlehem.
Waiting outside for a short while, around the corner arrives Volkswagen’s new flagship sedan series. At first sight I see a little bit of Audi, a little bit of Porsche and a little bit of BMW, even. As the new sedan passes to park, at the back I see Volkswagen Phaeton. This is Volkswagen’s real S-class size flagship, on which cars like Bentley’s Continental are based.
Now, apart for some BMW reference in maybe just the headlights, the rest of the Volkswagen Passat endows the Volkswagen Group’s premium empire that include Lamborghini, Bugatti, Audi, Porsche and Bentley, all under the one Volkswagen Conglomerate. And yet, it stays immediately recognizable as a Volkswagen Passat.
From the outside
The new Passat delivers on Volkswagen’s vision of placing the brand firmly in the premium segment of the family sedan market. Tight and sporty, yet elegant lines, a purposeful face with character and a strong shoulder line ends in a coupe-like rear. The low roofline and tight shut lines makes the car look premium. This beauty is more than skin deep. The Passat is based on the Volkswagen Group’s MQB platform, on which other premium cars in the group, more specifically the Audi A4 is also based.
Before getting behind the wheel I hop onto the back seat. The rear leg space is fit for a king. Well-bolstered and supportive leather seats and enough headroom makes for a space that can be utilised for chauffeuring a head of state. Popping the boot lid reveals a large amount of space and a full spare wheel, with the same style aluminum rim as used on the other four wheels.
Behind the wheel
Out of the hot sun and into what can only be described as premium luxury. I set the automatic climate control to LO.I take in the soft-touch plastics, leather steering wheel and seats and also door trim and armrest.
Clear instrumentation in front of the driver and a touch screen includes all the connectivity and infotainment needed.
Everything that is not standard can be specified from the options list. That being said, the new Passat comes with a very long and comprehensive list of standard features. This includes safety features such as acoustic park distance control and the normal active safety features which include ESP, ABS and airbags.
The car is operated keyless. That means it utilises a stop-start button which includes a function to save fuel when stationary.
This test car has the smallest engine derivative the 1.4 TSI mated to Volkswagen’s DSG Automatic gearbox with shift pedals behind the steering wheel for those times you feel like driving in manual mode.
Plant your foot into the carpet, however, and this engine feels and pulls like all but a “baby” engine, more like giant steam train. The turbocharged engine delivers the 0 km/h to 100 km/h sprint in 8,4 seconds smoothly and quietly.
The new Passat is much lighter than its predecessor, making it much lighter on fuel consumption. Build quality is evident in the absence of rattles over broken road surfaces, all whilst the suspension soaks up the road surface irregularities. Push the new Passat into a corner and the absence of body roll and also over- or understeer makes it a dynamic drive also.
This offers a luxury sedan that can match any of its Volkswagen siblings like the Audi A4 or a Mercedes C-class or a BMW 3-Series, but with more practicality if you need space for four with their luggage.
And if you need real German premium luxury and style and do not have brand-image disease, choosing this new Volkswagen Passat is simply a no-brainer.