Volkswagen Passat in India test drive

Seems like it is raining Germans for the Indiandrives team. Off late, I had reviewed the Volkswagen Jetta in India and next comes the Volkswagen Passat. But then the difference apart from the size and price difference between both is that I would only be able to give you a test drive report of the Volkswagen Passat in India. The reason been that the car was assigned long term duties to some magazine and it was to reach its destined place. But then some requests later, we got the car for an hour to be able to conduct the test drive. Wasting no time, I got down to getting the test drive details in place. I was given the company’s newly launched petrol model, the 1.8 TSI. I did remember mentioning in the Jetta article that the PD motors of yore would be relegated to oblivion now once the Tdi comes into its own. How right was I in this context? But then Volkswagen had to discontinue the Tdi motor as well since it doesn’t conform to the emission norms.

The looks of the Passat are more like the Volkswagen Jetta albeit in a bigger form. The head lamps structure has been slightly reworked to accommodate the frame of the grille and it somehow reflects sister concern Audi’s design language. The VW logo on the front signifies the German roots of this C class competitor. The Volkswagen Passat in India is also the older model and a new one has been recently released all over the world. Well, it may be coming to Indian shores this year along with the Volkswagen Jetta 2011. The head lamps by the way are Bi-Xenons and do a good job of making driving at night easy. Now, you would ask me as to how I came to find out about its night jaunts capability. Well, one of my cousin owns this car but then his car was away for service and since I was going on a Volkswagen hunting spree, I had to get this article competed today. Now, does that make sense? There are side skirts to the car to give it a sporty look. Those 215/55 R16 are a different design from the Volkswagen Jetta and the big ORVMs are also aerodynamically enhanced. The circular LED split tail lamps also do their job well in giving the car a design element of its own. The best part is the VW logo which can be used to open the boot lid. It somehow feels a bit classy than others in its category. The twin tail pipes don’t seem that classy to look at but they serve their purpose well.

Now the boring part of any Volkswagen car, the interiors. Don’t get me wrong. The reason I said this is because they are so immaculate. The Passat’s interiors are no different. Infact it is near to the Superb in terms of the interior build quality. Not a single thing is out of place. Notice the meter dials and you would realize that they look like the ones on the CBZ Xtreme (pardon me for writing this, but then I couldn’t think of any other thing). This makes the dials seem too plasticky. But then turn on the light, an everything becomes fancy. The three spoke steering wheel is different than the Jetta but it is closer to the Polo. It has got chunky audio, Bluetooth and cruise controls on it. At first look, the central console materials also feel like they would those shiny plastics but then try prodding them and you would realize the high quality that they are made up of. The six-CD changer touch screen music system which is the same RCD510 unit which the Volkswagen company employs in almost all of its vehicles. The sound quality was crisp though and no issues on this front. Also on the meter dials front, there is a multi information display on the front which actually tells you visually to depress the clutch to start the car. Rear seat space makes this strictly a 4 seater with the transmission tunnel taking a big part of the middle passenger’s place. Leg room is just about average and seriously lacks behind its cousin, the Skoda Superb.The 560 liter boot space is also cavernous.

Driving the Volkswagen Passat in India now made me realize the unusually high 42Psi of tyre pressure that Volkswagen used to recommend earlier. It is now down to a respectable 38Psi. This piece of information was garnered from my friend who had to go through this problem. This made the ride quality very stiff. The suspension is tuned to be more on the softer side. This makes this car a better chauffeured one but then the lack of rear seat space doesn’t favor this. The steering wheel is light and good to hold at, drive in city speeds. But then on the highway, it becomes disconnected. The ride quality remains unfazed over broken surfaces also. NVH is of a high order as even with the car crashing into potholes, there wasn’t any noise inside the cabin. Nor did anything come loose in this car even after the 50,000 kms it had on the odo.

Earlier the Volkswagen Passat in India came with two engine options. One was the old 2.0 liter Tdi which produced 138bhp and 253 Nm of torque. It also had the DSG gearbox. But then due to emission strangulations, the engine had to be phased out. The petrol motor is an all familiar 1.8 liter TSI motor which produces 160 bhp of peak power @ 6,200 rpm whereas the torque produced is 250Nm between 1500 to 4500rpm. It is mated with a 6 speed manual transmission. The transmission as with all Volkswagen units is a breeze to use and operate. This car speeds from 0-100 kmph in only 9.3 seconds and runs out of breath at 210 kmph. As experienced in the Superb, there is little of torque available lower down the rev ranges. Trundling through traffic was something which should best be left for the chauffer since I personally felt that the car’s size works against it.

Brakes as expected were phenomenal with discs at the front and rear with ESP, traction control, EBD and ABD working in tandem to slow down the car from high speeds. The brake pedal feel was also good and seemed natural. Speaking of the brake pedal, I had noticed that the clutch pedal was also progressive. Safety is Volvo rivaling with 8 air bags in all the nooks and crannies that one can find. Then there is the collapsible steering column, 3 point seat belts with pretensioners and the likes.

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Fuel economy for a TSI motor as expected was good with 10.3 kmpl in the city and 15.6 kmpl on the highway. Drive it more enthusiastically and the figures are bound to see a southward spiral.

I personally liked the Volkswagen Passat in India for its looks, neutral handling, good ride quality, interiors and VW badge. What I didn’t like was the rear seat space, more gizmos should have been provided for and the price point. Since there is only one variant available as of now, the Volkswagen Passat price in India is Rs 19.77 Lakhs (ex-show room, Mumbai). Its competitors would be the Skoda Superb, Honda Accord, Hyundai Sonata Embera Transform, Toyota Camry and the Nissan Teana. There is a desirable and stylish Volkswagen Passat CC to take on the likes of Mercedes CLS.

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