From £19,620
Quiet, refined, economical and a perfect companion for eating up a thousand miles in a week

Our Verdict

Volkswagen Passat 2011-2014
15 million VW Passats have been sold in 100 countries since its launch in 1973

The VW Passat is a competent family car - but does it show any flair?

21 September 2011

What is it?

Warm petrol engines, such as the 158bhp 1.8 turbo in this VW Passat, are something of an anomaly in repmobiles these days. Whereas in decades gone by it was all about power and performance for the typical insurance salesman’s company car, 2011 requires most to run an ultra-efficient diesel to keep CO2 emissions, fuel bills and benefit-in-kind rating to a minimum to please their employer.

Volkswagen has a history of warming over the Passat to please the more enthusiastically minded company car driver, the 20-valve 1.8-litre turbo model from the turn of the century being the best example.

This latest warm Passat, VW’s closest offering to the BMW 320i, can crack 0-62mph in 8.5sec and return 40.9mpg at the pumps, while CO2 emissions are 160g/km. On paper, it seems like performance with a conscience.

What’s it like?

While a turbocharged 158bhp petrol engine may sound like a good starting for turning the Passat into the enthusiast’s mid-size saloon of choice, this doesn’t turn out to be the case.

The performance isn’t the issue; the Passat feels plenty quick enough and the 185lb ft of torque is available from just 1500rpm, making acceleration feel brisk and overtaking a simple exercise. The real-world economy is also decent, the 40.9mpg quoted combined figure being easily within reach with a sensible head on.

It’s the chassis that dulls any whiff of excitement. The steering is devoid of any real feel and gives very little feedback as to what’s going on with the front wheels, except from which way they’re pointing. This translates to dull handling that makes the Passat feel like one its more sensible diesel siblings.

This Passat does share two more positive traits with its diesel siblings, however: excellent ride quality and superb refinement, particularly on the motorway. The ride is supple and composed at almost all speeds, while the engine is almost inaudible when it settles into a long motorway run.

The interior isn’t inspiring to look at, but is functional, comfortable and spacious, with an excellent driving position. Much like the rest of the car, then.

Should I buy one?

This Passat is very good at what all other Passats are very good at. So it’s quiet, refined, economical and a perfect companion for eating up a thousand miles in a week.

But there’s very little to distinguish this particular Passat from any of the other models in the range, given the disappointments of the matching the engine’s sporting potential.

You’re best off spending an extra £1000 on the more economical (61.4mpg), lower emitting (119g/km) and almost as quick (9.8sec to 62mph) 2.0-litre diesel, which is the best Passat at being a Passat.

Volkswagen Passat 1.8 TSI SE

Price: £21,375; Top speed: 137mph; 0-62mph: 8.5sec; Economy: 40.9mpg (combined); CO2: 160g/km; Kerb weight: 1502kg; Engine type, cc: 4cyls in line, 1798cc, turbo, petrol; Power: 158bhp at 5000rpm; Torque: 185lb ft at 1500rpm; Gearbox: 6spd manual

Join the debate

Comments
21

27 September 2011

[quote Autocar]Volkswagen has a history of warming over the Passat to please the more enthusiastically minded company car driver.[/quote]

I don't think this is the case. They offer the engine because it has more power and cruising potential but it has never been and will probably be aimed at the enthusiastic driver, in this model or any that have gone before it. Any enthusiastic driver worth their salt would always go for the equivalent BM or Mondeo.

Also this car offers no sporting pretentions in any other way, be that styling, body addendum or suspension set up.

 

 

It's all about the twisties........

27 September 2011

Another dull and boring Passat nothing to see here.

27 September 2011

Its not clear in the reveiw is this the 11ish year old engine 20v 1.8 turbo or a completely new 1.8 turbo .

27 September 2011

[quote Old Toad]

Its not clear in the reveiw is this the 11ish year old engine 20v 1.8 turbo or a completely new 1.8 turbo .

[/quote] It is the new EA888 turbo similar to the engine in the current Golf GTi. Engine sounds good and I did like the Passat when I first saw it. But having seen a few on the roads it is the rear end I dislike very unimaginative as said dull. A peach of an engine in a dull car that is good at cruising down a motorway but don't expect to have fun .

27 September 2011

[quote JezyG]But having seen a few on the roads it is the rear end I dislike very unimaginative as said dul[/quote]

Strange isn`t it, I am not a fan of any VW product.....except the new Passat. I love the slightly sharky nose, its easily the best application of this corporate nose job. The rear looks good with the low chrome trim too. I would take it as an estate I think.

27 September 2011

[quote jonfortwo] I would take it as an estate I think.[/quote]
.. in which case you'll get it with the old rear bodywork! Carry over of the D pillar is especially obvious.

New front end does look good though, agree there.

27 September 2011

Having owned the pre facelift version of this, good to see they have moved the electronic hand brake button. Previously it was next to the light switch to the right of the steering wheel. Very awkward position for someone like me who is slightly vertically challenged!

27 September 2011

[quote Old Toad]

Its not clear in the reveiw is this the 11ish year old engine 20v 1.8 turbo or a completely new 1.8 turbo .

[/quote]

No, it's a different engine. The one you're thinking about is not 11ish years old though; it originates from the 1980s, and was last seen in the Beetle last year in 150bhp turbo form, just before it was axed.

27 September 2011

Let's see, so this new Passat is quick, economical (for a petrol version), well built, has a comfortable and roomy interior, has an excellent ride and is very quiet and refined, correct?

Well, seeing as I rarely, if ever, drive at speeds which would test the uninspiring handling/steering and don't particularly care if it has a dull image (in fact I quite like the unexciting image - and wouldn't buy a car to draw attention to myself), I'd say it ticks all the right boxes for me.

27 September 2011

Fidji ,

Thanks for that .

So am I right in thinking this engine is set to replace the 158bhp turbo and supercharged 1.4 which I thought was for the chop as it was too expensive to produce .

The engine makes sense to me if you are not a high mileage driver as no doubt this car is cheaper to buy than the diesel equivalent . Not particulate filters to worry about either .

Pages

Add your comment

Log in or register to post comments

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

  • 2016 Audi A3 Sportback e-tron UK review
    First Drive
    29 September 2016
    First UK drive finds the facelifted A3 Sportback e-tron remains a first-rate plug-in hybrid that is packed with tech if a little short on driver appeal
  • Citroen C11.2 Puretech 82 Furio
    First Drive
    29 September 2016
    Citroën's city car gets a new sporty-looking trim level, adding visual adornments, but no premium for the 1.2-litre Puretech triple we're driving
  • Mercedes C350e Sport
    First Drive
    28 September 2016
    Petrol-electric C-Class is a surprisingly well-priced alternative to a diesel but not the greatest example of the new ‘PHEV’ breed
  • Car review
    23 September 2016
    Aston kicks off its ‘second century plan’ with an all-new turbo V12 grand tourer
  • Ford Ka+ 1.2 Ti-VCT 85
    First Drive
    22 September 2016
    A rounded, refined and well-sorted bargain supermini – once you’re used to the confusing role redefinition imposed on the once-cheeky Ka