The new Passat by Volkswagen will soon roll into India. Shapur Kotwaldrives it down Autobahn in Germany
A smooth, silent and sophisticated ride adds to the refinement factor of any car and this kind of refinement only happens when a car is carefully planned and the plan is executed with severe discipline. The new Volkswagen Passat possesses this kind of refinement, which exudes from its airy cabin, its sturdy interiors and the fine drive, that too, after the speedometer needle is drifting between 200 and 205 km an hour, while we rocket down the Autobahn in Germany. There is no road noise or roar from the tyres, barely any wind or lower body noise and the overall stability feels solid.
We got to check out the new Volkswagen Passat at Wolfsburg, Germany, which happens to be Volkswagen’s nerve centre and the place where it was initiated. The Passat, which will be launched in India next month, will be assembled from kits at Skoda’s facility in Aurangabad and initially, only the 2.0-litre TDI diesel will be on offer and that is the same one we are driving in Germany.
According to Volkswagen designer, Murat Gunak, the Passat is a car that has a very complex identity. A most striking feature of this new identity is the wide V-shaped Volkswagen grille – on the Passat, it is finished in attractive chrome. In addition, the new Passat has a more tipped-forward, ready-for-action stance as opposed to the earlier car that was more laid-back. The headlamps and rear lamps that merge circular and rectangular themes are also a feature being implemented more and more across the VW range. To improve packaging and for better space management, the Passat uses a transversely mounted engine and an independent rear suspension setup. It has been built on a stretched version of the PQ45 platform that is used on the Golf; the platform used on the Passat has been named PQ46.
Powered by Volkswagen’s Pumpe Duse (PD) motor, the Passat, unlike most modern direct-injection diesels, does not use the common-rail system of distributing diesel at high pressure. Instead, this system uses individual fuel pumps placed on top of each fuel injector that allows for instant reaction and high pressure. Typical of a PD motor, power comes in strong and rushed once the motor is past 2000 or 2200rpm. Acceleration is now very sporty, the punch of the PD engine thrusting the Passat forward with 32kgm of torque. While overtaking, we easily breeze past cars on a rush of turbo boost and torque and this actually makes the car feel quite light-footed.
The six-speed gearbox is slick-shifting and when we stopped at a signal on a hill, we tested the auto-hold brake function. Owing to this function, the car does not roll forward or back and one can activate this mode by pressing a button next to the gear lever and brake pressure is only released when you accelerate out of the parked position. The DSG, which is the best automatic gearbox in the world, will be on offer in India. Seamless acceleration, a sport mode and a ‘tiptronic’ manually selectable option mean the dual-clutch gearbox can only serve to enhance the driving experience.
We got a good idea of the car’s ride quality and comfort from the suspension when we drove around in Wolfsburg. The ride is absorbent over expansion joints in the road and all you get is a muffled ‘thunk’, with only really sharp-edged bumps causing the stiffer front to make a racket. Suspensions that have been raised and re-tuned to especially suit Indian roads will be available in India and as a result, the ride characteristics are likely to change. Even on a hilly section that we drove on, the Passat manoeuvred around twisted roads quite capably and even around corners, it manages the change in centre of mass well, regardless of its huge size. Unfortunately, though, the electric steering takes away from the excitement of the drive, making it uninspiring.
When it comes to comfort, however, the Passat has it spot on. The front seats offer good support and are large with lots of leg and shoulder room. The rear seats are comfortable as well. However, rear legroom is a bit short but the solid Volkswagen build and high quality door pads and rear air conditioning vents more than make up for that minor detail. The top-end version of this car will probably come fully loaded.
Three trim variants are to be launched in India. So far, Volkswagen hasn’t said anything about the pricing but they dropped hints that the Passat will be priced between Rs. 19 lakh-24 lakh. It might not be a BMW or an Audi but what the Volkswagen Passat has working for it is the fact that this is a sturdy, comfortable car that performs well and will keep you safe. In addition, it is an extremely well-engineered diesel saloon and should provide you with the luxury element as well.
Technical dataVW Passat 2.0 TDI SEL
Rs 19 lakh-24 lakh (est)
Top speed 209kph
0-100kph 9.8 sec
Turning circle 11.4m
Kerb weight 1454kg
Engine4-cyls, in-line, 1968cc
Installation Front transverse
Power 140bhp at 4000rpm
Torque 32.6kgm at 1750-2500rpm
Gearbox 6-speed DSG auto
Front suspension: Independent MacPherson struts, lower wishbones
Rear brakes: Ventilated discs
Fuel tank 70 litres
Boot 565 litres
Wheels 6.5 J x 16
Tyres 205 /55 R 16