An elegant sedan

K Shivraj
Saturday, 31 March 2018

Except for the audible suspension and engine, the new Volkswagen Passat is spacious, comfortable and generously equipped

Volkswagen has introduced the new, eighth generation Passat in India. Priced at Rs 30 lakh approximately, the new car may not look drastically different from the model it replaces, there is however more to it than meets the eye. To begin with, it is based on the Volkswagen Group’s MQB platform, and shares a good deal of componentry with the Skoda Superb and Audi A3. 

Elegant looking in an understated way, the new Passat, without charging a premium, comes with a long list of features. The front is dominated by full LED headlights and the horizontal slat chrome grille. The bumper lends a touch of sport. The sides are brought up to speed by a coupe-like roofline and a sharp beltline that help the car to exhibit a taut skin with an amount of classy feel to it. Dominating the rear are elegant looking lights that spill over to the boot lid. 

Classy look
Replicating the classy look of the outside is a cabin finished in a dark shade of grey. The exquisitely finished wood panels on the dash and doors uplift the cabin. The single panel housing of the dash replicates the headlight-grille mono styling, and contains AC vents and a nice analogue clock. The touchscreen multimedia system and HVAC controls occupy space on the centre console. Equipped with a three-zone climate control, the multimedia of the new Passat has Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity; this is in addition to USB, Aux and Bluetooth options. 

The system also has handy buttons for easy access to functions that are frequently used. A proximity sensor throws up commands as soon as one reaches for the screen. If the leather upholstery and soft-to-touch trim areas provide the feel of an expensive car, the build quality of the new Passat’s cabin is quite high. The level of comfort is impressive, and the seats are highly supportive. 

The front seats are power adjustable and heated, and the driver’s seat has memory and massage function. There’s good leg room on offer at the rear even though it may not equal that of the Superb. If the flip-down armrest adds to the comfort level, there is good head room on offer despite the coupe-like roofline. The shoulder room is adequate for three. Featuring an electric sunshade at the rear, and a sunroof, the new car comes with nine airbags (including one for the driver’s knees). The boot-lid of the 586-litre boot can be opened via a button on the remote.

A simple wave of the foot under the bumper will also do a job. The need for more space can be taken care of by folding forward either of the 60:40 rear split seat back. 

Strong performer
Equipped with ABS, ESC and drag reduction, which prevents the front wheels from locking in case of rapid downshifting, powering the new Passat is a 177bhp, 2-litre turbo-diesel engine. It is mated to a six-speed direct-shift gearbox (DSG). Exerting a strong pull from around 1500rpm, and all the way to the 5400rpm redline, the new car puts out a strong performance.

The DSG helps by brilliantly reading pedal inputs. Resort to aggressive driving style, and the performance can be spiky, often accompanied by quick shifts. Paddles mounted behind the steering wheel also aid quick shifts. Making it easy to drive in the city, the DSG works brilliantly on the highway to get the new Passat to carry good speeds. Attention to fuel efficiency is drawn by the on-board Think Blue trainer; it prompts the driver. 

Delivering a ride that has a stiff edge to it, the new Passat displays impressive high-speed stability. It feels planted, and provides a comfortable ride over most road surfaces. The adjustable dampers aid to improve the riding characteristics to a certain extent. The suspension, however, does tend to get caught out by sharp edges, and is audible. It feels like it is on a firmer setting even in ‘normal’ mode. This perhaps has an effect on the handling, which is quite good for a car of this dimension and weight. The new Passat weighs 1.5-tonnes and the steering weighs up well with speed, and provides good feedback. In the ‘Sport’ mode, it feels firm. 

Verdict
With good handling and ride, the new Passat comes across as an accomplished automobile. Overlook the audible suspension and engine, and the new car is spacious and comfortable. It performs well, and is generously equipped. For those who are looking for an elegant looking executive sedan that is not stylish or overtly expressive, the new Passat fits the bill. 

Pros: Elegant looks, equipment, comfort, handling
Cons: Engine and suspension noise

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