The new car is noticeably quieter- and smooth-riding, the engines (familiar from other VWs are all a little more frugal) and the car, already as well festooned with options as the luxurious VW Phaeton limousine, is now available with market-leading driver fatigue detection systems, automatic parking (both parallel and rear-on) and a city emergency braking system that protects you from collisions – with metallic objects, not humans – below 20 mph.
In the UK, the car comes in three model levels (S, SE and Sport) available in either estate or saloon options with three direct injection TSI turbo petrol engines (1.4/120bhp, 1.8/158bhp, 2.0/207bhp) and three 16-valve TDI turbodiesels (1.6/104 bhp, 2.0/138bhp, 2.0/168bhp).
All engines are available with six-speed manual or twin-clutch DSG gearboxes (seven speeds for the smaller engines; six for the high-torque models) but Britain won’t get either the offered 4Motion versions, or a forthcoming VR6 version. No demand, say the importers.
A Blue Motion version of the 1.6 diesel, emitting just 109g/km of CO2 despite its comprehensive spec and impressive performance is coming later next year.
We tried a full-house 168bhp diesel with six-speed DSG, and it was superbly smooth and powerful, with a beautifully integrated stop-start system and an abundance of torque that made passing acceleration very accessible, and good fuel consumption easy to produce.
The 2011 Passat is noticeably more refined and smooth riding than its predecessor (especially with the adjustable suspension option set in Comfort), though its steering doesn’t have quite the sharpness of a Mondeo.
Should I buy one?
The seventh-gen Passat may be a car of few surprises, but an amazingly large proportion of the population don't want any: in the 100 countries or so where this new Passat will be sold, it is deservedly close to being the ideal car.
Volkswagen Passat Sport 2.0 TDI 170
Price: £25,623; Top speed: 133mph; 0-62 mph: 8.8sec; Economy: 53.3mpg; CO2: 139g/km; Kerb weight: 1560kg; Engine: 4cyl, 1968cc, turbodiesel; Power: 168bhp at 4200 rpm; Torque: 258lb ft at 1750-2500rpm; Gearbox: six-speed dual-clutch auto