2011 VOLKSWAGEN PASSAT REVIEW
Vehicle Style: Medium wagon
Price: $57,990 ($63,690 as-tested)
Fuel Economy (claimed): 9.7 l/100km
Fuel Economy (tested): 11.9 l/100km
The V6 FSI Wagon blends power with purpose - but at a price. Then again, you get what you pay for.
Quality: The new Passat, while conservatively styled inside and out, hits the right notes when it comes to cabin quality.
Chrome-ringed gauges, brushed-alloy dash trims and a finely-upholstered leather steering wheel are some of the highlights. Nappa leather seats and trim complete the picture.
It’s certainly classy; the only thing we could find for complaint was that the front cupholders feel flimsy (a minor nit-pick).
Comfort: The seats are commodious both front and rear with a wide range of adjustment to the electric front seats.
The back seats rate highly for comfort, with good legroom, shoulder room and headroom. Rear passengers also get a pair of face-level air-conditioner outlets, along with a pair of cupholders in the fold-down centre armrest.
Equipment: Standard features include dual-zone climate control, cruise control, rain-sensing wipers, dusk-sensing headlamps, front and rear parking sensors, heated and power-adjustable front seats, a trip computer, iPod/USB audio connectors, Bluetooth integration, an in-dash six CD stacker, foglamps and 18-inch alloys.
Options fitted to our car included sat nav, a reversing camera and a panoramic glass sunroof.
Storage: The Passat wagon can hold an impressive 588 litres with the 60/40 split rear seatbacks in place, and 1716 litres with them folded.
The back seats fold flush with the boot floor, and numerous tie-down points and hooks help keep loads secure.
ON THE ROAD
Driveability: Reprising its role from the last-gen Passat R36 is Volkswagen’s familiar 3.6 litre VR6 engine, which boasts 220kW and 350Nm. It’s a smooth free-spinning unit and has no trouble hauling the 1700-kilo Passat wagon up to speed (although thirsty when worked hard.)
Throttle response is excellent; the V6 really hits its stride above 4000rpm. Torque is strong in the lower reaches of the rev range too, so it’s more than happy to lug around town in fifth or sixth gear.
The six-speed DSG automatic provides quick, near-seamless shifts. It’s well-suited to the V6 Passat, but we found its low-speed clutch engagement to be a bit snatchy at times.
Refinement: Tyre roar on coarse asphalt is really the only major refinement issue with the Passat, with its solid build quality and extensive acoustic insulation keeping the cabin quiet.
Suspension: Our car was equipped with the optional Adaptive Chassis Control system, which allows the driver to switch between Comfort, Sport and Normal suspension tunes.
In Comfort the damping is softer, Sport mode firms up the dampers and makes the chassis more responsive, while Normal is the midpoint.
On the whole though, it’s a tad firm. Comfort is best for around-town duties, while Sport and Normal are fine for highway cruising.
The V6 FSI is perhaps better described as an executive express than an out-and-out performance car, but traction and cornering is sharp on a winding road (although with some body roll).
Braking: The beefier braking hardware of the V6 model has no trouble halting the Passat, but the pedal feels too spongy. It’s not an issue during hard braking/emergency stops though, as the Brake Assist system firms up the pedal markedly in those situations.
ANCAP rating: Not tested.
Safety features: Eight airbags (front, front side, rear side, curtain), stability control, traction control, ABS, brake assist, Electronic Differential Lock, pretensioning front seatbelts, three-point belts on all seats.
WARRANTY AND SERVICING
Warranty: 3 years/100,00km and 24 hour roadside assist with 12 years anti-corrosion warranty.
Service costs: Servicing intervals are set for every 15,000km/12 months, with the average service ranging in cost from $400 to $580. The first major service is due at 60,000km/48 months, and costs roughly $1100.
HOW IT COMPARES | VALUE FOR MONEY
Subaru Liberty GT Premium wagon ($56,990) - Closest in price, the Subaru also shares a similar drivetrain layout (automatic AWD) to the Passat
However interior quality isn’t quite up to the standard of the VW, nor is boot space. (see Liberty reviews)
Holden Commodore Sportwagon SV6 ($45,790) - It’s a size bigger, much cheaper, and has nearly as much brawn as the Passat V6.
Downsides include a less capacious boot and lower-grade interior plastics, but the home-grown Sportwagon is still the best-value family wagon around. (see Commodore reviews)
Volvo V60 T6 ($67,950) - Stylish, appealing and an eager performer, Volvo’s V60 T6 is a finely finished and luxurious contender. It’s a little smaller (and more expensive) than the Passat, but we like it a lot. (see V60 reviews)
Note: all prices are Manufacturer’s List Price and do not include dealer delivery or on-road costs.
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
The sporty Passat V6 FSI is a highly-polished family-wagon and an enjoyable sporting drive. Its Achilles heel however is that its price pushes it towards the top end of the medium segment.
With just a few optional extras - sat nav, reversing camera, adaptive chassis control, panoramic glass sunroof and auto-closing tailgate - the price of our tester soared above $60k.
If you simply must have a European wagon with a decent dollop of performance, then the Passat V6 FSI Highline should be on your list. But if you just want a grunty wagon to haul your family around, we’d recommend the cheaper Commodore Sportwagon.