Volkswagen Passat 1.8 TSI
Engine: 1,798cc 4-cylinder petrol, direct injection, turbocharged
Maximum power: 160PS at 5,000 to 6,200rpm
Maximum torque: 250Nm at 1,500 to 4,200rpm
Transmission: 7-speed direct shift gearbox (DSG)
Acceleration (0 to 100kph): 8.5 seconds
Standard features: Dual front airbags, curtain airbags, dual front side airbags, anti-lock braking system (ABS), brake assist, ISOFIX child seat anchor, electronic stability control (ESC), hill-hold control, flat tyre indicator, "Rest Assist" drowsiness detection system, park distance control (front and rear), cruise control, front head restraints
Nett selling price without insurance: RM169,888
The Passat is among Volkswagen’s most popular models in Malaysia, with more than 6,000 imported and locally assembled units sold since 2011.
It is also among the most successful cars in the world, with over 23 million units sold since 1973.
So, you might want to ask; why are we reviewing the seventh-generation Passat which had its global launch nearly four years ago?
The reason is simple - Volkswagen Group Malaysia offered us a three-day loan of the locally assembled Passat, which now comes with enhanced connectivity, security and comfort features.
This 1.8-litre turbocharged D-segment executive sedan now offers Bluetooth, telephone connectivity and audio streaming as well as 12-way adjustable electric front seats and memory function for driver’s seat.
The enhanced Passat which is assembled in Pekan, Pahang also has an anti-theft alarm system with electronic immobiliser, and electric folding exterior mirrors.
While there are no reverse camera and in-car GPS navigation system here, we don’t think this is a deal breaker as the Passat has a barnful of premium comfort and safety features.
These include rear air-conditioning vents, leather upholstery, a “Press and Drive” engine start function, rain sensor for wipers, and automatic bi-xenon headlights with LED daytime running lights.
We were also impressed by the clarity and depth of the sound reproduction from the eight-speaker MP3-capable audio system, connected to a touch-screen display and six CD changer set-up.
An analogue clock, located below the central air-conditioning vents, imparts a dash of old-school charm to a dark themed interior.
We also liked the space-saving electronic parking brake switch, with an auto hold function which is a boon on congested roads and in stop-and-go traffic as it reduces muscle work for the driver’s left arm and right leg.
When the car is braked to a standstill, the auto hold function keeps the brakes applied until the driver steps on the accelerator again.
The Passat has lots of storage options including a deep centre storage box, cup holders and door bins, as well as a cavernous 565-litre boot.
It has a 2,712mm wheelbase and we also found more than adequate leg and head room for 1.7-metre adults.
Regarding its ride and handling, the Passat has a familiar dynamic performance that reminded us of why we love driving turbocharged Volkswagen cars armed with the famous dual-clutch direct shift gearbox (DSG).
The automatic DSG provides silky smooth and lightning quick gearshifts, and together with the powerful 1.8-litre TSI engine, we found a punchy drive with fluid acceleration when we stepped hard on the accelerator pedal.
The DSG has a Sport or “S” mode for more driving enjoyment, while drivers can also use the steering paddle shifters, for quick gear up and down-shifts.
While the Passat is not a sports car, it has a pleasing “steer, point and shoot” quality that its Korean and Japanese rivals are unable to match.
At the same time, the Passat has a refined and quiet ride quality as noise intrusion into the cabin is low, and the gruff exhaust note is well-muted even when we approached the RPM redline.
Although the MacPherson-type front and four-link rear suspension set-up is typically European-firm, it is well-sorted out.
We had no complaints from our rear occupants regarding ride comfort on rough and bumpy roads.
We noted that the RPM needle was at 2,200 to 2,300rpm when the car is moving at 110kph.
At 80kph, the RPM needle was at 1,600 to 1,700rpm.
In summary, the Passat can be a spirited drive when one is in a hurry, but without the rough, gruff noise and bumpy ride quality that are typical of sport-oriented cars.
We feel that the Passat is a premium executive car that certainly represents the sophisticated level of engineering, design and packaging that has helped the Volkswagen Group as it vies for the coveted title of being the world’s top automaker in terms of sales volume.
According to Volkswagen, the Passat is rated with a fuel consumption of 7 litres per 100km on a combined cycle.
However, we doubt Passat owners can achieve this fuel efficiency as drivers would always be tempted to engage the car’s dynamic performance qualities.
In our opinion, the Passat is an impressive express for comfortable long-distance journeys, with a refined and premium executive car ambience in the cabin, as well as eager pulling power and composed agility.