This is the eighth-generation Volkswagen Passat available in India only with a 174bhp, 2.0-litre turbo-diesel mill and offered in two trims - Comfortline and Highline (what you see in the pictures). This new-gen luxury sedan is underpinned by the MQB platform, which enables sharing of parts and technologies with other cars in the VW group. Some of these include the Tiguan, Skoda Kodiaq, Superb and the Octavia. The Passat is now up-to-date with features and tech. But is it good enough? We find out.
The Passat's styling is similar to other VW siblings. So it's very conservative compared to other sedans in this segment. But that may actually prove to be an advantage for them. After all, most car buyers in this class don't really want anything flashy. They prefer something very elegant and understated and Passat strikes all the right chords here.
The straightforward yet sharper design language makes it look more futuristic than its predecessor. Look at the lines on the wide triple-slat grille to the 'tornado' shoulder line, till the rear bumper. And even in the tail lamp inserts for that matter. You won’t find many curvy lines. It looks neat, and the LED headlamps with DRLs, LED tail lamps and 17-inch alloys further add to the sedan’s aura.
The intelligently crafted interior looks pleasing with its design, layout and use of premium materials. Many components like the steering wheel, door trims etc. are from other VW's siblings, but impressive quality nonetheless. Fit and finish is perfect as well, thus giving the impression of a flawlessly made interior. Ingress/egress isn’t as good as an SUV, but it has a spacious cabin.
The electronically-adjustable driver's seat provides a comfortable driving position and good view of things outside. Furthermore, passengers are snugly held in the front seats that get adjustable lumbar support. Now in the second row, the headroom is average, but I’m impressed with the legroom and shoulder room on offer.
Of course, the central hump and narrow seat base for the middle passenger will not make things easy for a third occupant on a long drive. But for two occupants, there’s plenty of legroom and a three-zone automatic AC and a panoramic sunroof will keep things airy and roomy. That’s a pretty neat set of features for a sedan in this segment.
I doubt if prospective buyers will feel the need for anything more in that cabin, except for a laptop tray perhaps?
But, that again, would surely be asking for too much because the Passat already gets extensive equipment. Apart from the afore-mentioned comfort features, it gets hands-free parking and parking assist with a 360-view camera. They work flawlessly and make the job of parking this long car a little less nerve-wracking. Besides, one can stow all kinds of luggage and misshapen packages in this huge 586litre boot.
Just wave your foot at the centre of the rear overhang to open the tail gate and close it with a button. Besides, safety is the top-priority for VW. Some of the notable standard safety features that make the Passat secure include 9 airbags, ABS, hill-start assist, ESP, anti-slip regulator, TPMS, cornering lamps etc.
At start-up, there is a slight clatter, but the engine smoothens out on the move. This 1,968cc TDI motor makes the car feel very fast. It's a rev-happy mill and becomes fairly audible only if the audio system is off and the ac is on low. With 350Nm of torque on tap from a low 1,500rpm, it packs in a low-down punch and has a strong mid-range too. It's surprisingly smooth for a diesel mill till the redline (5,400rpm) and doesn't feel strained at these high revs. The six-speed DSG slaps out quick gear shifts putting the power down on the road for the car to make rapid progress. It’s only when you give it some stick (or use paddle shifters), your head’s back and forth movement becomes evident. The transmission responds well nonetheless, and gentle throttle inputs make for a smoother drive.
The Passat offers a choice of modes between eco, normal, comfort, sport and individual too. VW is also offering Adaptive Chassis Control (DCC) that modifies settings on each wheel of the vehicle to match road conditions. All of this can be chosen from the touch screen. The suspension is already a bit stiff, but offers a planted feel and great composure to the Passat. On our way from Udaipur to Jaipur, the comfort mode gave us the better driving experience, by shielding us from the worst the roads could throw at us. Of course, the car feels sharper in the Sport mode. But as the ride firms up a little, the thuds and whacks increase over sharp-edged undulations and badly paved sections. We could hear the suspension work over these road imperfections but not feel them in the comfort mode - another reason why we stuck to this mode.
Still, the steering weighs up adequately and linearly as our speeds climbed. It correctly steers in the direction pointed at with plenty of feedback. Also around bends, there’s not much of roll that will hold the driver from pushing the car’s limits. The brake set-up helps well in shaving off speed, but I felt the brakes to be a little soft and sensitive. Even so, they didn't make me feel nervous on hard braking. Then, the 17-inch 215/55 section wide tyres offer plenty of grip even on our uneven surfaces. VW hasn’t mentioned its ground clearance, but considering there was never an eye-cringing moment when the car went over speed bumps, we have to say it’s pretty good.
|Max. Power (bhp@rpm)||174bhp @ 3,600rpm|
|Max. torque (Nm@rpm)||350Nm @ 1,500rpm|
|Fuel Capacity (in litres)||66|
|Tyre size||215/55 R17|
|Electronically adjustable and heated seats with lumbar support||Yes|
|Different modes of driving||Yes|
|Reversing camera with guidance||Yes|
Competition All Specs
|Max. Power (bhp)||174bhp @ 3,600rpm||174bhp @ 3,600rpm|
|Max. torque (Nm)||350Nm @ 1,500rpm||350Nm @ 1,500rpm|
|Fuel Capacity (in litres)||66||66|
|Tyre size||215/55 R17||215/55 R17|
Compared to the older Passat, the latest-gen is a big leap for the carmaker in terms of looks, features, comfort and technology. It is fun to drive and still offers predictable and secure handling. Also, when it comes to back seat comfort, I'm convinced that chauffeur-driven car owners will love it.
Also, thanks to the MQB architecture, VW Group has been able to share parts and technology across siblings and even brands. This has helped the carmaker make significant savings and eventually price it at a competitive price of Rs 29.99 lakhs for the Comfortline and Rs 32.99 lakhs for the Highline. At this price point, this VW luxury sedan is on par with its rivals like the Skoda Superb, Toyota Camry and the Honda Accord.
Besides, Volkswagen has pulled up their socks and managed to get their service act together. Understandably, this shouldn't make for a dicey buy even for previous Passat owners. So if VW continues to build up this confidence amongst potential buyers, I don't see any reason that will drive away a prospective buyer. He might, in fact, drive away with one Passat instead!
Pictures by Kapil Angane