Design and Engineering

Design and Engineering

Good The current generation Passat arrived Down Under in March 2006, becoming one of the larger sized Medium Family segment offerings. The wagon is a great choice for families that require extra luggage capacity; the overall design is understated yet classy and like so many VW’s, the doors close with a reassuring and purposeful quality ‘thud’ like sound.
Not so good This B6 generation is no longer in its spring chicken years (however is not due to be replaced until late 2012) and definitely wears more conservative sheetmetal than a number of it’s newer competitors (however we do think the Passat wagon is ageing gracefully).
Interior and Styling

Interior and Styling

Good A class leading interior no doubt! The fit AND finish is top notch and Volkswagen do the little things very well. Example: the backlit instruments look fantastic (the needles are a cool ice blue colour). Storage is plentiful - a large glovebox, useful sized door bins, even the driver gets a storage bin mounted in the dash. The mid life update from February 2010 see’s soft touch Nappa leather upholstery standard on the top selling 125TDI grade. Second row legroom is impressive and the wagon’s rear cargo area is carnivorous and features a low loading height for ease of loading.
Not so good The Passat’s driver and front passenger seats don’t offer enough support (excluding of course the grippy pews in the top dog R36 variant), however larger folk might not miss the lack of ‘squeezy’ side bolstering. No supersize panoramic sunroof available (a popular option on many new generation family vehicles over the last year – and we doubt this growing trend will end anytime soon).
Performance

Performance

Good Both petrol V6’s are excellent powerplants, the narrow-angled V6 in standard 3.2L tune is a lively engine with a slightly muscular note and the R36 grade with it’s bored and stroked 3.6L V6 feels truly fast and emits a lovely metallic rasp. The entry level 118TSI grade is mated to a high tech seven speed DSG gearbox and offers acceptable get up and go. The 125TDI (sole diesel option as of early 2010) offers an impressive 350Nm of torque (equals the amount on offer in the R36!).
Not so good The six speed DSG gearbox could be smoother (occasionally feeling a touch jerky). At almost 1,750kg the R36 definitely isn’t a featherweight and with ‘only’ 220kW under the bonnet we don’t recommend trying to outpace a HSV (but we doubt the target market would be interested in this kind of behavior).
Ride and Handling

Ride and Handling

Good The all wheel drive system (in the V6 FSI & R36 grades) ensures the Passat with all round excellent composure not matter the weather conditions. The front wheel drive Passat’s are also on the money for a family hauling vehicle (and better than almost any similar sized SUV in the ride and handling stakes).
Not so good Ride quality suffers over rough surfaces where the Passat can feel slightly unsettled; a little too much tyre noise from in the cabin (most noticeable in the second row); the AWD system adds approximately 100kg to the petrol V6 Passat’s kerb weight, yes it ensures safe and swift progress but the extra weight may not be what a performance car fan wants. The steering (an electric system) could offer a more natural feel, even in the R36 where it initially feels heavy has too much of an artificial feeling when the going gets quick.
Buying and Owning

Buying and Owning

Good Yes it’s a German product but you needn’t question the value for money on offer here – lot’s of expensive technology (i.e. Direct injection engines, twin clutch sequential manual (DSG) gearbox, and all wheel drive with the two V6 engines), strong safety credentials (8 airbags!), and a high quality fit AND finish inside and out.
Not so good Petrol engines prefer the more expensive 98RON fuel.