One of the biggest problems facing the VW Passat in the UK is that the class in which it will compete is contracting at a fairly terrifying rate. What’s more, petrol-powered large family cars are taking a smaller share of sales than ever before. So whereas 10 years ago a 2.0-litre petrol Passat was about as mainstream a purchase as it was possible to make, now it has a new role to play.
Welcome, then, the Passat 2.0 FSI niche product.
You can see why. If you have read our group test you’ll already know that, on paper, the argument in favour of the 2.0-litre diesel unit is almost overwhelming. Be it economy, CO2 emissions, real-world performance, resale value or range, the 138bhp diesel Passat is so clearly the pick of the range that any other choice seems at best highly individual, and at worst somewhat perverse.
Yet there are still those who remain suspicious of diesel or simply want an engine that will rev cleanly past 4000rpm and, for them, the 2.0-litre FSI Passat proves an entirely accommodating proposition. In fact, the petrol-powered range of Passats will start with a 113bhp, 1.6-litre engine, but the necessarily short gearing and the engine’s uncouth manners means it need neither delay us here nor you in the showroom. Instead, we’ll major on its altogether more soothing and satisfying big sister.