Refined all-new Volkswagen Passat arrives on the quiet
- Credit: PA
High-mileage drivers and families rejoice because the eerily-quiet new Passat is finally here, says Matt Kimberley of the Press Association.
'All-new' doesn't translate as 'unfamiliar' in Volkswagen-speak, so while most of the new Passat's parts are genuinely new, the controls and layout are as familiar as your own pillow.
Big improvements have been made in sound insulation and refinement, but petrol power has been kicked to the kerb. This Passat is diesel-only – with 120PS 1.6-litre, 150 and 190PS 2.0-litre turbo diesels and a 240PS 2.0-litre twin-turbo unit. Judging by minuscule past petrol sales, that shouldn't be a problem.
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Looks and image
It's not the emotional tour de force Volkswagen would have you believe, but it'll probably still look as middle-management handsome in 10 years as it does today. Strong lines, but restrained shapes, are like a face that's grown more defined and distinguished with age.
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The Passat has always maintained a solid image centred on quality, space and comfort. It's never dramatic, but it's done the job. This time there's actually something to get a bit more excited about, because the new sound-deadening makes the mile-muncher's cabin one of the quietest places anywhere on the road. It's exceptionally, eerily quiet.
Space and practicality
Along with a huge boot – 586 litres for the saloon and 650 for the estate with the rear seats in place – there's now 40mm more rear legroom and a good deal more width for shoulder room. Three children will find the bench seat surprisingly spacious.
The car itself is a gnat's wing lower and shorter than the old model, but it's a little bit wider, so parking in bay spaces will be that tiny bit trickier. There's an almost comical amount of automated and semi-automated parking aids, though, should you wish to delve into the options list.
Behind the wheel
The spooky quietness turns your thoughts to the high-quality interior materials, albeit on our range-topping test car. There's little or no wind noise, and not even the wide tyres make much racket.
On a slight negative there are lots of blank switches round the gear lever, unless you get the highest trim levels and plunder the options list.
Adjustable driving modes make loads of difference to the ride and handling, but it's comfort mode that suits the Passat best. The others are too unforgiving over bumps, but engage comfort and the miles just fly by.
Value for money
Avoid the price jump of more than £5,000 for the 240PS bi-turbo engine, which is wrapped up with a new DSG automatic gearbox and four-wheel drive, and you can get a lot of car for your cash. SE Business trim, with its sat-nav and treasure chest of trinkets, is the one to go for, linked to the 150PS 2.0-litre turbo diesel.
Who would buy one?
Apparently, 80% of Passats will be company cars, so high-mileage drivers will be first in the queue. Low emissions and that supreme refinement make it not just tax-friendly, but a tempting alternative to the likes of the Audi A4 and Mercedes C-Class. It's a significant step up, and without resorting to clichés it really is rather nice.
This car summed up in a single word – genteel.