New Volkswagen Passat (2015) First Drive

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Volkswagen has introduced the new eighth-generation Passat in South Africa.

In a bid to shatter perceptions and take aim at premium brands such as Mercedes-Benz and BMW, Volkswagen has come out with all guns blazing with the new Passat. With over 22-million worldwide sales since 1973, the Passat remains an important model for Volkswagen and it just got a whole lot better.

The launch of the new Volkswagen Passat took place in Port Elizabeth and we were there to drive this all-new model.

What’s Changed?

Just about everything. This new Passat is built on Volkswagen’s MQB platform and is some 85 kg lighter and up to 14% more efficient than the outgoing model. The Passat is now also 2mm shorter, with the wheelbase extended by 79mm. It also sits some 14mm lower and 12mm wider than before. The interior length has increased by 33mm and the overall changes in dimensions have cumulatively increased interior space despite the car being marginally smaller than the outgoing Passat.

The new Passat takes on a more premium look with a lowered bonnet and windscreen that has been shifted towards the rear and the front grille features fine chrome detailing that gives the car a sophisticated face. Halogen headlights are standard while LED headlights with LED daytime running lights are optional. At the rear, the LED lights are wider yet leaner, and set in wide shoulders for added presence. Overall, the look of the Passat has taken a huge leap forward and it’s actually quite a good looking car in our opinion.

Step inside and you are met with a classy interior too. A prominent horizontal air vent design element stretches across the dashboard, adding to the premium feel as does the central analogue clock. There is much to like about this interior, as its design is attractive, clean and functional. The biggest highlight of the interior must be the Active Info Display, with the new Passat being the first Volkswagen model to benefit from this feature.

The optional Active Info Display is a fully interactive display replacing your conventional instrument cluster and it’s marvellous. The 12.3-inch display virtually incorporates key instruments as well as navigation, very much like the Audi Virtual Cockpit. The display can be configured to your preferences using the mounted controls on the steering wheel and it makes driving the Passat that much more appealing. A head-up display will also become available in the new Passat in early 2016 for the first time.

In terms of infotainment, the latest generation 6.6-inch Composition Media system is standard across the Passat range. The system takes care of a range of functions including Bluetooth connectivity, CD Player, USB and Aux connectivity for MP3 playback, SD card reader and vehicle information including a performance monitor and lap timer, just in case you need it. The Discover Pro Navigation system with an 8.0-inch colour touchscreen is available as an option.

The Passat Lineup

Three petrol engines power the new Passat with a diesel engine expected in the second half of 2016. The first is a 1.4-litre turbo engine delivering 110kW and 250 Nm of torque. This engine is offered with a 6-speed manual transmission as standard while a 7-speed DSG transmission is an option. Fuel consumption for this engine is rated at 5.3L/100km in manual form while the DSG is slightly more efficient at 5.2L/100km. The 0-100km/h sprint is achieved in 8.4 seconds with a top speed of 220kph.

Buyers can also opt for the 1.8-litre turbo engine which delivers 132 kW and 250 Nm. This engine is mated to a 7-speed DSG transmission that contributes to a combined fuel consumption figure of 5.8L/100km. As you’d expect, 0-100kph is quicker at 7.9 seconds with a top speed of 232kph.

Lastly, there’s a 2.0-litre turbocharged engine on offer, the same engine that does duty in the Golf GTI and it provides good entertainment with 162 kW and 350 Nm of torque on tap.  A 6-speed DSG transmission ensures a 0-100kph time of 6.7 seconds with a top speed of 246kph. Combined fuel consumption for this engine is rated at 6.2L/100km. All three engines feature BlueMotion efficiency optimising technology as standard.

The Passat is also available in two trim levels namely Comfortline and Highline, each with its own set of standard features. There’s also an R-Line package available as an option for both trim levels but this comes standard on the Passat 2.0 TSI.

There’s also a full host of driver assistance systems available for the Passat and these include an Automatic Multi-Collision Braking System, Driver Alert System, Adaptive Cruise Control and Park Assist. In terms of safety, the Passat is fitted with ABS with EBD, front and rear Park Distance Control, Electronic Stability Control and a total of six airbags. ISOFIX child seat mounts are also fitted as standard.

How Does The New Passat Drive?

The launch route took us from PE to Port Alfred and back, totalling almost 300km and giving us the chance to sample all three engines. Our drive started out in the top-of-the-range 2.0 TSI in R-Line trim. The steering is noticeably light yet well-proportioned and it makes the Passat feel nimble and agile. Performance in this model is excellent with plenty pulling power at your disposal.

The driver also has the choice between four driving modes including Comfort, Normal, Sport and Individual which is selected via the driver profile selector. In Sport mode, the Passat is eager to get a move on and it responds with vigour to throttle inputs. The DSG transmission is faultless in its shifts which go unnoticed as you cruise along making for smooth power delivery throughout. The drive is also quiet and refined with engine noise barely making it into the cabin, which is testament to the Passat’s good build quality. The fuel consumption readout showed figures above 11L/100km, but figures below 10L/100km should be easy to achieve with a more restrained driving style. Thanks to the Dynamic Chassis Control, (DCC) fitted as standard on this model, ride quality is excellent and the Passat soaks up bumps and lumps effortlessly, delivering a smooth and comfortable drive.

Excellent drive and handling characteristics are also evident in both the 1.8 TSI and 1.4 TSI with only marginal differences in performance being noted. The 1.8 TSI, although not as forthcoming as the 2.0 TSI, still provides excellent performance and never left us wanting more, despite having 30 kW and 100 Nm less on tap. It was only in the 1.4 TSI that a significant change in performance was felt. Under hard acceleration, the 1.4 remains composed, but the engine can be heard working hard under the bonnet and is therefore more suited to conservative driving styles. Despite the watered-down performance in this 1.4, fuel efficiency was good with the readout showing 7.3L/100km. Driving in Eco mode will certainly help matters and other modes for the 1.4 and 1.8 include Normal, Sport and Individual.

This new Passat impressed us with its modern and classy interior, and excellent driving ability. We will have the new Passat on test soon to give it a thorough evaluation, but for now take a look at what you can expect to pay for the new Passat.

New Volkswagen Passat Price in South Africa

1.4 TSI Comfortline 110kW Manual – R378 800

1.4 TSI Comfortline 110kW DSG – R398 800

1.8 TSI Highline 132kW DSG – R444 200

2.0 TSI R-Line 162kW DSG – R476 800