The Volkswagen Passat is one of the largest selling sedans in the world - and one of the most popular. With its executive mid-sized proportions and luxurious interiors, the Passat has always been the perfect business/family sedan for the middle class in Europe. Of course, in India, the Volkswagen Passat is more expensive sitting in the 30 lakh sedan range along with the likes of the Skoda Superb, Honda Accord and the Toyota Camry. After a brief hiatus from the Indian market, the Volkswagen Passat is now back in its third avatar albeit internationally, this new generation is the 8th or in Volkswagen terms, the B8 Passat.
The Volkswagen Passat is the quintessential sedan. It is well proportioned, has just enough styling bits to give it road presence and is, in an Indian context, quite large. In fact, if you as a child drew a three box car in the back of your school book, the new Passat would instantly reminisce that proportion and design. A longish bonnet, a large greenhouse and a large boot all placed in a rather stately manner on the Passat screams sensibilities. The 8th gen gets a much sharper design as compared to the previous car but it is still an evolutionary design as expected from Volkswagen.
The grille is now larger and has more chrome with the headlights flowing into it almost forming a single piece. The chrome also continues to the front bumper and forms a distinct line of trim that runs through the doors, into the side and on to the rear bumper at a slight angle giving the car that forward stance. The wheels, 17 inchers, are cleanly designed and the rear is reminiscent of the last gen car but is now sleeker and better looking, especially with those LED tail lamps. On the whole, then, the Passat does have the attention to detail you can expect from a Volkswagen product without needing to shout about it. Is it underwhelming? No. Unassuming? Yes, most certainly.
Interior Design and Features
The same simple design that Volkswagen has implemented on the exterior has also continued on the interior of the Passat. A large gloss black central console, horizontal wooden inserts on the dashboard and AC vents with design extensions that remind us of the Audi Q7 are all elegant and of course, the quality of everything is top notch. Where the Passat excels in terms of fit and finish, it does slightly disappoint in terms of features. There should have been more, the larger screen like the one on the Tiguan for starters, and more importantly, the smart LCD instrument cluster that you get on the A4. You do however get the expected large sunroof, front seats that massage you, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and the signature analogue clock right in the centre of the dashboard.
The front seats are some of the best in the business and as we mentioned earlier, they come with a massage function. Even design-wise, they hark back to Passats of the past with horizontal stitching. Around the rear though, while the leg room is enough to throw a small party in, the seat, especially when it comes to under-thigh support, just doesn't feel good enough if long distances are what you intend to travel in the back of one. In the city though, the Volkswagen Passat would be the ideal car if you intend to have your chauffer drive you around.
Engine and Performance
The Passat comes with the tried and tested Volkswagen Group 2-litre diesel engine in India. While there were plans to launch the car only in the GTE or plug-in hybrid spec earlier, the increase in the GST tax structure for hybrid cars meant scrapping that plan and sticking to the diesel. There will, however, be a petrol engine in the Passat in the near future. Coming back to the diesel though, the engine makes 174 bhp of peak power and 320 Nm of peak torque and is mated to a 6-speed automatic.
The Passat doesn't feel urgent. It doesn't feel sporty. What it does have going in spades is the fact that it will hold high speeds the whole day without a whimper of complaint and will continue to do so day after day. There is a sense of solidity in the Passat that you find in the likes of bigger and more luxurious cars. As a long distance cruiser, the Passat is almost unbeatable. In fact, if I was asked to get into one and drive it from Delhi to Mumbai on short notice, I wouldn't blink an eyelid.
Ride, Handling and Safety
Being a highway cruiser as we mentioned earlier, it is imperative that the Passat has the chassis to deal with the horrible roads that we have here in the country. And expectedly, it does. It is very comfortable and as we have mentioned earlier, it just has a sense of solidity that is reassuring. Now, remember, the Passat isn't like the smaller sedans from the Volkswagen group that has that edge of sportiness. If you are looking for a sedan to carve up a set of mountain roads, you are better off with the likes of the Jetta or the Octavia. The bias towards comfort is very obvious once you drive the Passat.
And this is also why the Passat comes packed with safety features. 9 airbags, traction control, hill hold and a tyre pressure monitoring system all come as standard. The brakes are phenomenal too. Of course, you get ABS and EBD as standard along with traction control. All in all, the Passat not only feels comfortable and solid but also extremely safe - almost like a cocoon that you can place your family in.
Price and Verdict
The Volkswagen Passat is an expensive car with prices ranging from Rs 29.99-32.99 lakh (ex-showroom). And at that price, you would be hard pressed to look past the plethora of SUVs in the segment and choose this instead. That said, the Passat still holds an air of social superiority that no Japanese or American SUV can ever beat and of course, it is more comfortable than those too. It might not appeal to the enthusiast, but if it is discreet motoring in sheer comfort that you are looking for, this is it.