We started the urban side of our evaluation in a parking lot... outside the city. We went there to press the reset button in our minds. Before we plunged into the roaring city traffic, we noticed that the vehicle was rather shy at flexing its wheels. Even though the maximum steering angle looked modest, this didn’t seem to affect parking maneuvers or give the car a turn radius outside of the class’ average.
Even though we are talking about a vehicle that tips the scales at about one and a half tons (3,300 lbs), the Passat feels at home on our crowded city streets. The steering, which is even lighter that the previous model’s one, allows you to dance through the morning madness, with the 320 Nm maximum torque, which is available between 1,750 and 2,500 rpm, contributing to the positive feeling. We would’ve liked the torque band to be wider, but the precise shifts offered by the six-speed manual compensate for this.
Inside the city, you usually find yourself in one of the first three gears, with the six speed manual having just the right gearing for these ones: not too long, but no too short either. The clutch proved to be a friendly bloke and showed us that it has a good relationship with the stop-start system. The latter proved to be a perfect organ for the Passat and it didn’t just have a psychological impact. Tackling the early morning rush hour, we managed to achieve a fuel consumption of 8 liters per 100 km (29.4 US mpg), without having to make any compromise, such as turn the air conditioning off.
In fact, the Passat manages to make it to the podium of its class in terms of fuel efficiency. It’s hard to compare test drive figures, as the traffic is never the same, so we’ll suppose that all carmakers manipulate the truth to the same extent and tell you that the Passat offers official fuel efficiency figures that sit at the top floor of the segment. According to VW, the Passat B7 needs 5.6 liters of diesel to cover 100 km of urban roads (42 US mpg).
So, you’re an owner. You know that your car has “frugal” written all over it so you set off in a relaxed mood - what’s the first thing that you feel? Well, the frontal visibility is OK, allowing you to keep your state of mind. However, turning your head to the rear will make you sweat a little bit, as the C-pillars aren’t quite aware of the fact that the driver also needs rear visibility. As for the mirrors, they also bring a mix of emotions: while the interior one serves its purpose just fine, the shape of the exterior ones affects the visibility. Our test car was fitted with auto-dimming mirrors (the interior and the exterior one on the driver’s side), which really make a difference.
Roads should be perfect stretches of asphalt that make every journey a delights. Unfortunately, the real world is far from offering us that and the crowded cities make it more and more difficult for the driver to avoid potholes or notice imperfections. Fortunately, from the moment the wheel moves, you feel that the German engineers have been well paid, as the Passat acts as a shield, protecting you from everything the urban roads throw at you.
The vehicle we tested came fitted with front and rear parking sensors, using the generous (touch-screen) display of its RCD 300 entertainment system, as well as acoustic signals (which can be deactivated) to guide the driver. We tested the system’s limits - here’s what we found: when the graphics inform you that you’ve reached the “game over” status, the actual distance to the object that threatens to become one with your vehicle is about 8 cm (3 inches). No, your lawyer can’t quote us.
As for the shopping trips, the Passat seems to be perfect for this type of adventures. You’re busy all day at the office and really don’t have time for the gym. So you choose to buy a set of weights to play with at home. Just worry about your bench press capability, transporting them will be no problem with the Passat. And if you’ve just melted your credit card and feel guilty for holding one too many bags, placing these in the humongous luggage compartment (it's pretty hard to fill all 566 liters of it, trust us) will make them seem like crumbs, bringing back the pleasant feeling we were talking about earlier.
The boot-opening button on the key, carried over from the B6, is a handy function. Speaking of "boot", the Passat has one more trick up its sleeve. Actually, we should use the “pant sleeve” for this one: a special system allows you to open the boot lid by placing your foot under the rear bumper - we can't tell you how well this feature actually works, as our test car hadn't been gifted with it.
The Passat is an animal that is pretty well adapted for the urban jungle, with the frugality, decent dynamics and high level of comfort weighing a million times more than the few visibility issues and the rather dull interior.Continue reading
Hold on, Lou Cheeka would like to say something...
Man, we finally get a new Passat. I just love this car. What do you mean it’s a facelift? Can’t you see it looks new? Anyway, have I ever told you that, back in my European years, I used to drive around in a Volkswagen Golf? I wanted to get a Passat so badly, but just couldn’t afford one. Just ask any of my old friends who still hang around in Eastern Europe: the Passat is the greatest car ever. Here, hold this, let me get behind the wheel and take me a picture, so I can send it to the guys back there. No, wait, make a video.
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