It was a fine May day when we took off to sample a series of Malaysian delights and taking us there was a car we have become quite familiar with, albeit with some updates this time.The Volkswagen Passat has been in the Malaysian market since 2011, when it arrived fully imported.
Two years ago, the CKD (completely knocked down) Passat was launched with a price tag lowered by some RM15,000.
Recently, it was updated with new features such as Bluetooth for telephone connectivity and audio streaming, 12-way electrically adjustable front seats for better long-haul comfort, and an improved anti-theft alarm with immobiliser and electric folding mirrors.
Externally, there’s no way of telling if it is or isn’t a Passat with enhanced features, still having a 1,517kg kerb weight comfortably atop a set of 17-inch wheels with 235/45 tyres and no external markings to tell it apart.
It’s a sporty cruiser costing RM169,888 (on-the-road without insurance), being RM1,000 cheaper than last year with a few more elements found within for this year.
Although it comes with a humble displacement of 1.8-litres for its four-cylinders – turbocharging and direct injection has compensated well.
It produces 158bhp from 5,000 to 6,200rpm and 250Nm of torque from 1,500 to 4,200rpm and uses a seven-speed DSG gearbox.
In order to appreciate the additional equipment, Volkswagen Group Malaysia organised a “food trip” with lots of highway driving.
With three journalists in a Passat, we made off at 10am from Café Barbera in Bangsar; a stone’s throw away from Wisma Volkswagen on Lorong Maarof, Kuala Lumpur.
From there, we travelled north for two hours to the quiet town of Bidor, Perak to indulge in some duck drumstick noodles at the original Pun Chun restaurant on Jalan Besar.
|At the Pun Chun restaurant in Bidor; on the right is a pair of steamed pork buns (char siew pow) next to a plate of roasted duck (siew ngap) paired with roasted pork (char siew) and lightly garnished with some parsley.|
It was here that tales of succulent and tender herbal duck meat originated.
After the satisfying meal, we had a driver swap, allowing me to relax in the front powered passenger seat and take in the scenery as we pushed further north towards Ipoh.
The beauty about electrically adjustable seats is finding that preferred position is easier, compared with the manual mechanical type.
It was a comfortable drive, and thanks to the comfortable suspension, I dozed off and awoke at the next destination - Ming Court Hong Kong Dim Sum.
|Tim sum at Ming Court Hong Kong Tim Sum in Ipoh|
Nestled in Jalan Leong Sin Nam, just behind Excelsior Hotel, the entrance can often be missed by those who are not so alert.
In any case, we had to deal with the plethora of dim sum dishes served to us.
After the dim sum meal, we left for Kellie’s Castle, located near Batu Gajah where an unfinished, ruined mansion lies; previously built by a Scottish planter named William Kellie Smith.
For this part of the journey, I moved to the rear seats.
The Passat’s generous rear leg-room comes in handy with people often lounging into their seats.
Thus, having more knee room than necessary comes as a major bonus here.
The Passat’s firm suspension handled uneven roads very well.
We also managed to steal a moment to enjoy a cup of coffee at the Clearwater Sanctuary Golf Resort before finally hitting the road home.
For us, the “food trip” served as a strong reminder of the Passat’s charming blend of spaciousness, comfort, performance and handling.
It stays well-planted during spirited driving on twisty roads and feels effortless when cruising at low or high speeds.