2011 Volkswagen Passat in India test drive

')">While Indians are going gaga over the new technologies which have found their way under the hood and body of the new Passat, we at Indiandrives quietly managed to convince Volkswagen India to loan us the car for a test drive. No issues out on that front but then as far as I know, Volkswagen haven’t started delivery of this car as of yet. So, out on the road, its an exclusive piece of work. That can be understood with the number of stares that we received at each and every signal. But then, frankly speaking, I have got used to all this attention having driven Audi TT, BMW Z4 and even the Audi A8L. Shifting the focus from me onto the real star, the 2011 Volkswagen Passat in India, it feels as if nothing much has changed in this car from the old one. However peer closer and you would notice that the head lamps have been readjusted and feature a more sharper design. The typical Volkswagen grille is present along with the VW logo. Check on Road Price

Personally, I feel that the 2011 Volkswagen Passat is no different than the Vento or even the Jetta, that is for the layman. The 205/55 R16 tyres fill up the wheel arches completely but then it isn’t something that you would call as innovative. The shoulder lines of the car now swoop forward and look much more muscular. The rear boasts of tail lamps which are borrowed from the older generation Phaeton. Twin tail pipes do justice to the moniker of this being a performance car giving laps of luxury. The swooping roofline towards the rear also means that this form would soon be adapted to the Volkswagen Passat CC. The Volkswagen monogram at the rear has been now made anti theft proof and holds a special purpose. I will come to more details about the special purpose later on.

Interiors of the car, again in my opinion, don’t look too inviting. That is until you seat yourself into the leather seats. The driver’s seat felt as if I have sat on a sofa. Volkswagen officials were quick to add that this car also comes with beige interiors. I am sure that must have felt so much better than the dark grey expanse filling the whole cabin. Now, when I say German engineering has got attention to detail, I mean it. Has anyone ever thought of having small cooling fans besides the seats? I bet, no one would have. Using leather upholstery in Indian climatic conditions is a big no-no. Even though the dual zone auto climate control would be in full swing, at the end of the trip, in hot sweltering Indian summer, the backside of the shirt or coat that the occupant would be wearing (I am no male chauvinist pig) would be bathed in sweat. To avoid this, Volkswagen have provided for small cooling fans just adjacent to the front seats to cool the spinal area. Thoughtful? Yes, very much. I don’t know why but I hate the Volkswagen car internal security system which can be operated only from the driver’s end. Imagine asking your chauffer to lock the doors. Irritating. The music system also felt crisp. The meter dials are also subtle enough but look beautiful once the automatic darkness sensing lights come on. What Volkswagen have done is kit the 2011 Volkswagen Passat in India with equipments galore. There are rain sensing wipers, analogue handmade small clock in the dashboard, leather seats, cornering lamps, auto dimming lights and much more.

Rear seats, the ones which have been designed keeping in mind the chauffer driven clientele of the Passat, are supremely comfortable. More so like a sofa where you just feel like jumping up and down, just for the heck of checking out the cushioning. There are rear AC vents as also remote control for controlling the audio system. The rear armrest also makes way for putting in long objects like Ski racks or hockey sticks. The boot space is also very generous and plus can be accessed from the back seat of the car. Volkswagen haven’t adopted the bimodal boot approach from the Skoda Superb, nor have they brought in the patented boot opener wherein one has to keep the car key in pocket and just wave their leg beneath the boot. Lo and behold, the boot pops open.

Volkswagen had definitely set, their own sister concern, the Skoda Superb as a benchmark, as far as the ride and handling of the Passat is concerned. Being built on the same platform means that the Passat has to more or less better its dynamic abilities to shadow that of the Superb. The 2011 Volkswagen Passat in India has an all absorbing ride quality unlike the Superb which sometimes is caught off guard by road irregularities. Throw whatever roads at it, the Passat swallows them whole. Build quality is typical Volkswagen and not one panel looks out of place. It is this very quality which would stand out for the life of this car. What has improved significantly is the handling of this car. While the old model felt a bit apprehensive around corners, the newer one is more or less like the Superb. It attacks corners with a new found gusto, though not exactly in the same ball park as the Superb but yes, there is better agility. The ESP can be turned off via a switch in the central console and this allows for some fun antics, provided that there is no one else on the road or it is a deserted stretch. The steering wheel also is a lot more tauter in feel. However like BMW cars, the steering wheel is no extra light at parking speeds and feels a bit heavier, unlike its Skoda counterpart.

The 2011 Volkswagen Passat in India comes with only a single 2 liter diesel engine as of now. it produces a maximum of 170 Bhp of power while the torque figure reads as 350 Nm. It is offered with both DSG as also a 6 speed manual transmission. My test car came with the DSG gearbox. Now comes the time to elaborate on the technologies Volkswagen has used in this car. BlueMotion, as they call it, is a group of technologies working simultaneously to ensure that the engine runs smoother, cleaner and more efficiently. Low friction materials have been used for the construction of the engine, plus the gear ratios have been more optimized now. Also they have longer ratios in the interests of eking out more fuel economy. The tyres are also low rolling resistance ones. Since it was a test drive and not a review, I couldn’t time the 0-100 kmph lap but one thing which I noticed is that the DSG gearbox is ultra responsive. It seamlessly shifts between gears. Moreover, there is also a start stop mechanism, which detects that the car is stationary for more than 10 seconds and switches off the engine. Volkswagen claims that this saves about 10 percent of fuel. However the downside to this which I experienced is that the electronic power steering stops working as well. The embarrassment that I felt when I was about to take a U-turn from a signal and the engine stopped suddenly since I was stationary at the signal for more than 10 seconds was something which left me redfaced for quite some time.

Volkswagen have given this car some very powerful brakes. They just shed speed in a jiffy. Moreover, there is ABS, EBD and ESP to help them sort out any panicky situation. Safety is one aspect which Volkswagen have stressed on this car with about 6 airbags, collapsible steering column, parallel parking assist, driver alert system and reverse camera. Phew! that was a really long list. The parallel parking as also the reverse camera is something which is usually not available in this price range. The parallel parking is something which can be called as a real party trick. However the parallel parking doesn’t take care of the outside rear view mirrors and this is something which the driver has to take care of himself. Slotting the car in reverse gear swivels open the chromed VW logo and reveals a nicely hidden camera. The display comes up in the big screen of the music system. Parallel parking however is something which actually feels very eerie when you actually have to check out the accelerator and the brake and remove your hands off the steering wheel. The car would park itself. The Driver Alert system has been borrowed from Mercedes and Volvo cars wherein the car monitors a driver’s driving patterns via his steering inputs and if it feels like the driver is constant at a speed for about 15 minutes, then it flashes a coffee icon and if the driver still doesn’t react, then it gives audible warnings and as a last attempt sends shudders via the steering wheel.

Fuel efficiency, though I haven’t checked out, is said to have vastly improved due to the inclusion of the BlueMotion technologies. It is said that the 2011 Volkswagen Passat in India would return 13 kmpl in city and 18 kmpl on the highway. Impressive enough. This car is currently available in three trim levels namely Trendline which is the base variant, Comfortline which is the mid level variant and the top end version Highline model. It is also priced very competitively. The 2011 Volkswagen Passat price in India starts from Rs 20.81 lakhs and goes all the way to Rs 25.68 lakhs for the top end variant. The review of the 2011 Volkswagen wouldn’t be done however very soon the Passat would be compared with its sister concern Skoda’s Superb and the Honda Accord.

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