Driven - February 2017

South Africa, give the VW Passat a chance.

I first drove the new Volkswagen Passat in 2016, the model I drove was the 1.4 TSI and I thoroughly enjoyed my time with that vehicle. Although I do remember saying that when the 2.0 TDI comes, it will probably take the Passat up another notch. I was correct.

For me, the Passat has two purposes, it’s a family car but also a highway machine. It’s built for laying down kilometres and not missing a beat. A person will look at purchasing a Passat for one of these reasons, or both.

For the family orientated buyer, the Passat is not a bad choice at all. It offers lot’s of space, modern technology, good safety and even a built in child seats in the rear. The downside is that the Passat starts at R468,200 for the petrol variant and R493,000 for the diesel model. These prices maybe out of reach for the normal South African family.

For the sales rep or businessman who uses the roads often and driving as a pivotal part of his work, the Passat is a great fit. In my home country, the Passats are extremely popular cars, mainly driven by people working for large corporations, driving my kilometres up and down the country on a daily basis.

The diesel model I drove recently, fits well into this category. With the R-line package, the Passat is striking, it has a sharp design and just oozes a professional feel.  The interior of the Passat follows suit with a clean design and good technology, such as the App Connect system and Park Assist.

How does it Drive?                

I always forget how a Passat feels until I get back the wheel of one. It feels different from other vehicles in it’s segment. It’s softer and lighter on its feet. For example, even applying the brakes is a smooth process, the same goes for its acceleration, it’s very linear. It feels refined and cautious on the road, it wasn’t designed to be driven very fast, it was designed to be driven for long periods of time. That being said, the car is very driver comfort focused and the overall feeling is one that relaxes you.

The best place then to test the VW Passat is on the open road, and that’s what I did. We had meetings for a few days in Johannesburg, so instead of flying I drove the Passat. Having experienced all the technology offered in these cars, I noticed that there were two optional extras the Passat I drove lacked. This was the Active Driver Display which gives you a digital dashboard and secondly, Adaptive Cruise Control.

The digital dashboard provides a more visual element and makes it easier to see and control certain vehicle data or elements. This means less time fiddling with the steering wheel controls, something that is important during a long drive.

The second option, Adaptive cruise control is a feature that I used on the new Tiguan and loved it. Driving to Jozi from Durban isn’t a bad drive, but over the many times I’ve done it, I find it hard to use the standard cruise control, something this Passat had.  There are lots of trucks, hills, fast cars, slow cars, speed cameras, etc. All these factors mean that cars are forever overtaking,  slowing down, speeding up and pulling out. This makes the drive frustrating because you can be on the brakes quite a bit, which deactivates the cruise control. When all is clear, you need to reactivate it again and if you hit the wrong button, it will set it to the speed that you are currently travelling, not the speed you want to be travelling. So most of the time it’s just easier to not use it at all. This is not just the standard Passat system that has this problem, these things would happen with any standard cruise control system. This is why I much prefer to have the Adaptive Cruise Control as it assists when all these factors come into play. It too is not a perfect system just yet, but it works damn well.

In terms of fuel economy, this car sips, something most people will buy the diesel version for. VW claim a combined cycle of 5 litres/100km. After arriving in JHB and driving around the city for a few days, when I returned to Durban, I got had average of 5.4 litres/100km. Pretty good if you ask me.  The 2.0 TDI performed well and it boasts 130kW/350Nm, which is more than enough for what this car was purposed is.

 

 

Just give the Passat a chance.

For such a great car, it doesn’t sell as well as it could, and you don’t see too many on the roads locally. In South Africa, we love our brands, especially when it comes to cars. When the Passat’s rivals are vehicles like the BMW 3 series, Mercedes C-Class and Even the Audi A4, you know it’s in for a hard time. The thing is, the VW Passat does quite a lot of things better than the cars mentioned above, for a cheaper price at that.

More motorists should give the Passat a chance, forget about how your friends will look at you, or what your side-chick will think. It’s a great option and will benefit your wallet too. Honestly I think it even looks better than some of it’s rivals. It’s not up to me though, it’s your money. The old car was certainly more grandfather-like in appeal, but with this new one, grandad is dead and his much cooler son has taken over.