In a day and age where big touchscreens, pages-long features lists and cool interiors are defining our cars, is the old-school charm of the Volkswagen Passat still appealing?
It may not sport the biggest touchscreens and tech but there’s still not much missing from this cabin. So there’s electronically adjustable ventilated seats up front with a massage and memory function for the driver. Three-zone air conditioning, 8-speaker touchscreen infotainment system with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay and a regular power socket in the rear to allow you to charge a laptop.
In terms of driving aids there’s 360-degree camera, hands-free park assist, and tire pressure monitoring system. Comfort-wise, there are manual sun shades for the rear doors and an electrically operated sunshade for the rear windscreen, semi-automatic tailgate and a rather large single-pane sunroof. The Passat is also available with Volkswagen Connect, which adds on a great deal of interactivity and features to the already feature-rich package — and you can read all about it in our seperate review here.
Safety is also up a couple of notches with 9 airbags, disc brakes all around and practically all the three-letter abbreviations you could associate with safety systems: ABS, ESC, HSA, ASR and EDL.
While most Passat owners will most likely be driven around, this is one car in which you’d want one of the two driver’s seat settings set up for you. Yes, it may be diesel-powered but this oil burner has quite a bit of character. The 2.0-litre TDI under the hood makes a very healthy 177PS and 350Nm of torque and that enough to propel the Passat pass the 100kmph mark in a brisk 8.65 seconds.
It’s also a motor that likes to rev and the 6-speed DSG is up for the task. It’s quick changing when the going is fast and since there are less ratios to choose from, it’s not constantly working at city speeds, proving that sometimes less is more. Yes, it doesn’t really turn your insides upside down with its performance but there’s something about the way this TDI responds to throttle inputs that makes driving it really pleasing. Must be one of the reasons that Volkswagen have given it a ‘launch mode’.
In city traffic it’s smooth and easy going and when a gap in traffic opens up, it’s eager to respond to even the lightest prod on the go pedal. It’s reasonably efficient too, returning 11.29kmpl in our efficiency test in eco mode. Out on the highway again the Passat is very much at home happily cruising along at triple-digit speeds while the engine ticks away gently at 1700rpm. In this mode efficiency goes up significantly and our highway test saw the German return a very healthy 18.78kmpl.
Further adding to the pleasing nature of the Passat is the adaptive dampers and paired with the DCC or dynamic chassis control menu, you can choose one of five settings: Eco, Comfort, Normal or Sport, depending upon your driving mood or conditions. You can even configure the 5th ‘Individual’ setting to your preferred driving setting. Yes, they all do what they say on the label so no surprises here. Overall, though, the suspension is very nicely set up for our roads and big bumps and potholes are taken care of without any complaints. There is still some firmness to the overall setup though, and that means smaller imperfections in the road like level changes and tiny bumps do filter through at city speeds
When we first drove this Passat in 2017 we discovered that it is for that customer who appreciates its understated nature, values all its tech and revels in that old-school charm. Volkswagen currently has an excellent offer running that knocks 4 lakhs off the asking price. So the Comfortline Connect Edition is available for Rs 25.99 lakh and the Highline Connect Edition is available for Rs 28.99 lakh. Yes, if you are that kind of person now’s the best time to pick one up, if you already haven’t. It ticks a lot of boxes, drives brillianty and will certainly fly under the radar. Yes, sometimes a bit of retro charm can be a very good thing.