Johannesburg - Everyone knows the Barcelona trio of Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar right? Better known as ‘MSN’ they score almost all the goals, grab the headlines and on the odd occasion, Suarez's take a bite at another player.
But for the South American attacking force to receive the ball and terrorise defenders, it needs needs to be won back and distributed by midfielder Sergio Busquets. The gangly 28-year-old does the dirty work in the middle of the park and doesn’t receive much acclaim for it.
And that brings me to the Volkswagen Passat, undone by its Audi cousin when the brands had co-franchises in the 1990s. The Passat was never a car executives could brag about around the braai. It doesn’t take away from the fact that it’s been a brilliant motor car.
The Passat does things so well, like the dirty work that it goes unnoticed. It rides like a Mercedes S-Class and is so brilliantly made that its shut lines are so tight an ant couldn’t fit between them.
The new 2.0-litre TDI engine, a new addition to the range since it was launched with 130kW/350Nm might seem underwhelming on paper and is initially when I drove it around the Magaliesburg area in Gauteng.
Then I imagined what type of experience a Passat owner would want…relaxed, unfazed almost orchestral in its nature.
He or she would want a gradual surge of power, not a thumping load of torque low-down in the rev range. And that’s what the engineers have gotten spot on with this engine: it suits the car so perfectly, and has a relationship only Joe Biden and Barack Obama could rival.
The six-speed DSG ‘box is a boon and honestly should be left in Drive (i.e. not Sport) all the time to appreciate the car. Let’s be frank, the 0-100km/h time of 8.2 seconds and top speed of 228km/h aren’t the figures potential owners will look at, probably more at the claimed figure of 5.0-litres/100km.
So, I’m not saying we should never mention ‘MSN’ again, but keep a look out for players like Busquets. They might lie in the shadows, but without them the job can’t get done and that is why the Passat deserves to do well (it's a 2017 SA Car of the Year finalist), it’s one of the best-made cars in the world, but people overlook it because it doesn’t have the brand cache.
Range jigged up
Meanwhile Volkswagen South Africa has restructured the Passat line-up; the range has been whittled down to two equipment lines: Luxury (1.4 TSI and 2.0 TDI) and Executive (2.0 TSI and 2.0 TDI). The former receives LED headlights, three-zone climate control and heated leather pews.
The range-topping Executive specification has App Connect, smarter leather seats and LED headlights cornering functionality and LED daytime running lights. To add a touch of ‘boss’ to your Passat, it has the cool R-Line styling package (sporty front grille; front and rear grille; side skirt as well as 18" wheels). The 2.0 TSI model also comes with the Dynamic Chassis Control, that’s also available on the Golf GTI.
Two new features that are now available on the Passat are tow assist (only with tow package) and area view (only available with park package). The terms are self-explanatory, with the former using an optical display to visualise steering angles and automatically steers the car and the trailer into place. The driver controls the pedals.
While the area view system uses four cameras to provide the driver with a 360 degree of the car’s surrounds. Peruse through the new spec sheet here.
1.4 TSI Luxury 110kW DSG R468 200
2.0 TSI Executive 162kW DSG R522 400
2.0 TDI Luxury 130kW DSG R493 900
2.0 TDI Executive 130kW DSG R522 40