Volkswagen Passat 2.0 TDI

The Passat has left Autocar HQ. In the 12 months we’ve had it, we’ve put a reasonable 16,800km on it and it’s been a firm favourite with anyone who’s been a in it–be it in the front or rear seats.

But it’s not just the feel-good factor that has own us over. This car’s proved beyond doubt that once you leap over its Rs. 32.88 lakh price, there’s a whole worlds of joy in owning a Passat.

Effortless is the world that keeps coming to mind, and that’s not just because the engine makes a huge 35.69kgm of torque. It’s effortless because it is silent, smooth and has all the solidity of a block of granite. It’s not lacking for equipment and is the kind of car that lets you know, the minute you step inside, that you’re in something special.

The Passat is a proper travelling companion and this we realised on your various trips to Pune, to my farmhouse in Karjat, and to Mahabaleshwar. Key to its long-distance ability is its pliant ride, its high-speed stability and the strong, silent engine. That it can go 900km between fill-ups also meant we could do long stints. Then there’s the small things like the way it has five inputs for audio – a six-CD change,r an Aux-in port, an SD card port, an iPod dock and via Bluetooth – so we’d never run out of music. The seats are very comfortable and the car is supremely refined, even at speeds that would make a locomotive blush.

The motor has enough grunt to propel the Passat with adequate verve even when fully loaded, and apart form an initial bit of hesitation or lack of immediate response that is so typical of a twin-clutch unit, the Passat accelerates in a way that belies its benign character. We’d flex our right foot, wait as the smooth gearbox paused slightly to pick the right ratio, and then sit back as the car shot forward rapidly.

The Passat is incredibly calm and composed, giving you a sense of confidence very few cars can ever match. The eight airbags and vault-like build play to your instincts or self-preservation, especially when you have to share the road with 40-tonne trucks piloted by drivers who can’t see beyond their windscreens.

My daily home-to-office commute was relaxing too. Thanks to the fairly flat torque curve and surge of power that kicks in well below 2000rpm. Even at a crawl, the car would amble along quite easily, and left in D the gearbox would shift up early and seamlessly in the interest of fuel economy, adding, adding to the Passat’s relaxed demeanour.

You do feel its size while driving in traffic though, and its massive 4769mm length makes finding parking space quite difficult. And no, the park-assist system isn’t as useful as it makes itself out to be. I’d find it easier to park the car myself rather than drive back and forth till the sensors figured out a slot they deemed sufficient for the car. Also, the black interiors and leather seats would intensify the heat in summer – the AC had to struggle to cool down the cabin.

But these aren’t serious issues and are easily overlooked. What you won’t forget though is how reasonable the Passat is to run on a daily basis. It gave us a consistent 13.4kpl. with a worst figure of 8.4kpl when Ouseph had the keys – he has that effect on cars. So fuel efficiency is impressive and coupled to that 70-litre tank, we would get a comfortable 900km between fill-ups. That’s an impressive figure, give the spirited driving and the constant use of the steering-mounted paddle-shifts. It’s even been quite reasonable with maintenance costs. The first scheduled service at 15,000km costs us RS 16,000. Which we think is reasonable give the size and class of this car.

There was one big glitch though and that was when the alternator packed up in Mahabaleshwar. The car had to be trailered to Pune, where VW didn’t have to required part. It took close to three weeks for the car to come back as they had to import the alternator from Germany. Also, repairs weren’t cheap at Rs 48,430.

This apart, it’s been a faultless 12 months, and we wish we could’ve had another twelve. The Passat may not have the sheer badge snobbery of any of the German big three (Audi, BMW, Merc), but its talents easily outshine its seemingly expensive asking price. If you want a truly comfortable, luxurious and effortlessly fast saloon for Rs 30 lakh, this is easily the best one around.

Source: Autocar July 2012

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