The Volkswagen Group’s 2.0-liter TDI engine needs no presentation. The B7 Passat manages to make the most out of the powerplant’s efficiency, regardless of the fact that the road you are driving on is surrounded by buildings, trees or guard rails. While in the city you get moderate gearing, as you mainly use the first three gears, the open road will see you work with the relatively long gearing offered by the rest of the transmission.
This helps the Passat avoid refuels, but it won’t turn it into an Autobahn blitzer. But don’t get us wrong, you don’t necessarily need the 170 hp version of the engine - our test car’s muscles were enough to provide decent performance for the targeted audience.
You need just under 10 seconds (9.8 to be more precise) to hit 100 km/h (62 mph), while the top speed sits at 213 km/h (132.5 mph). Between these speeds, the engine is able to show you that it can understand what your right foot is trying to say. However, in many cases, the long gearing means that you need to downshift in order to deal with overtaking.
The gearing is not the only twin-faced side of the Passat, as the same duality is shown by the steering. During city driving, the light steering is OK, as it allows you to tackle the heavy traffic, but when you exit the urban area and you build up some speed, this becomes a the weak point of the car.
It manages to convince the front wheels to follow your lead, but that’s about it. This is a one-way street: once your intentions are translated to the road the story ends, there’s no feedback. While this is enough both for city driving and for open road episodes that have conservative drivers in the main roles, we were curios to see what happens when the 18-year old son steals his dad’s keys.
We started our adventure outside public roads, in a deserted parking lot. The dusty tarmac exaggerated the vehicle’s dynamic tendencies, just like getting your skin wet allows you to feel everything more intense (since this is a review, we recommend ginger massage oil for testing the latter statement).
We deactivated the ESP and got down and dirty. We tried pretty hard to make the Passat’s rear end step out at city speeds plus a few tens of kilometers per hour, but the car staid focused, refusing to completely lose it. We applauded and returned to the open road. The twisty open road to be more specific. As you can imagine, the vehicle’s serious understeering tendencies quickly determined us to quit trying to pilot the car.
One thing is clear: the Germans didn’t intended to make the Passat offer a sporty feeling. We’re pretty sure that if they had wanted to, we would’ve ended up with a decent play partner. As we found out, there’s a strong argument that supports this: (again outside public roads), we tried to shoot at the vehicle’s composure by flicking the wheel at frightening speeds. The suspension, together with the ESP (when it was activated), did a wonderful job at keeping things together, offering us a lot of confidence for normal driving. However, the evaluation process was distorted by the winter tires, which really couldn't take the punishment.
Occasionally, we had to ditch some of the vehicle's speed, with this kind of efforts showing us that the vehicle's brakes really deserve a set of applause (yes, we know, this is the second one). The stopping power is good, but what really impresses is the fade resistance.
Want to hear a really good one: even during this rather extreme testing conditions, the suspension managed to keep our bodies isolated from the road’s flaws. What can we say? It’s such a shame to feel that the chassis has unexploited potential. However, most Passat buyers probably don’t care about this. But maybe this sort of involving driving experience would grow on a part of them if VW decided to sprinkle some spice over the Passat...
Speaking of normal driving, we ended our handling quest in order to introduce the Passat to the highway. Volkswagen promises a fuel efficiency of 4.1 liters (57.4 mpg) for this environment. Introduced in autoevolution’s reality frame, the vehicle returned a highway fuel efficiency of 5.7 liters per 100 km (41 US mpg) for a 130 km/h (80 mph) cruise, using the sixth element of the gearbox.
All in all, the Passat proves to be able to cater for your long distance travel needs, doing this in a way that keeps you relaxed, but without moving one muscle on your face.Continue reading
Hold on, Mary would like to say something...
Everybody has needs and it's important that these are all catered for. You guys need to understand that I need a car that can bring me to the right mood even before getting into it. The Passat’s appearance, which seems to be a combination between a robe and a business suit, will affect my inner chi and I’ll have to attend even more group experiences to be able to find it again so, please, do something about this.
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