Family motoring has never looked so good
- 2010 Volkswagen Passat 118TSI; 2.0-litre, four-cylinder, turbo petrol; seven-speed DSG; wagon: $40,990*
Options (as fitted):
- Metallic Paint $700 (Silver Leaf); Electric Glass Tilt/Slide Sunroof $2000; RNS510 Satellite Navigation $2500; MDI $300; Leather Upholstery $3000
Words by Matt Brogan | Photos by Brendan Nish
Offering more car and less engine capacity, the new entry-level Passat 118TSI model, as tested this week, represents even greater value from a marque already synonymous with some of the best bang for your buck passenger cars in the business.
Although the 'bang' part of the equation may appear to have wilted somewhat, the base-model offering -- now featuring a 1.8-litre four-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine -- relies on the latest turbocharging and direct injection technology for healthy performance and frugal fuel economy - the list-topping requirements for any 'buck' conscious family buyer.
Add to that a safety list that's second to none, and a level of standard features that leaves most rivals in its wake, it isn't hard to see why family motoring has never looked so good.
With wagons beginning to make a comeback in the popularity stakes, Holden Commodore Sportwagon is a particularly good example, the demand for more features at a competitive price is one challenge Volkswagen's Passat models meet head-on.
Boasting a generous standard level of equipment - even our base model offered front and rear acoustic parking sensors, optical reverse parking assistance, six-way electrically adjustable driver's seat with lumbar support, dual-zone climate control, dusk sensing height adjustable headlamps and cruise control - an impressive, if somewhat expensive, options list is also available on any model across the lineup, allowing Passat buyers the ultimate flexibility in tailoring a vehicle to their individual needs.
Add to that the reassurance of eight airbags, Electronic Stability Control (ESC) with Traction Control (TC) and an Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) with Emergency Brake Assist (EBA) and Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD), the five-star ANCAP safety rated Passat wagon is a smart choice for family buyers not wishing to compromise on safety.
But more than ticking boxes on style, safety and specification, the Passat wagon is a genuinely comfortable, and pleasantly quiet, family car. All five seats offer enough room to stretch out, the rear seat's legroom even spacious enough to accommodate lanky teenagers or adult passengers - no compromises here. As well, all five seating positions offer adjustable headrests and three-point inertia reel seatbelts, the front pews adding pyrotechnic pretensioners and height adjustment.
Up back, the cargo area is equally capacious. 630-litres of space is available with the rear seats in place (to window height). Fold down the 60:40 split-fold rear seats and this area is increased almost three-fold to 1731-litres. For added security, a retractable (and removable) cargo blind is included as standard, as are four chrome plated tie-down hooks.
But where the Passat 118TSI really comes in to its own is under the bonnet. The modern four-cylinder engine, though small of capacity, is big enough in performance to see 0-100km/h times of 8.7 seconds. Developing 118kW at 4500rpm, and peak torque of 250Nm from 1500rpm all the way to 4500rpm, the quiet and economic unit is also satisfyingly driveable, thanks in no small part to Volkswagen's seven-speed DSG (automatic) transmission.
The DSG is a great piece of kit, and through twisting country roads or multi-lane urban freeways is smooth and decisive. Unfortunately in stop-start traffic, car parks and when reversing, the transmission is a little gauche, stumbling at brief throttle applications and occassionally presenting lag after being prompted while coasting - such as when entering a roundabout.
The issues are, for the most part, trivial, a simple matter of growing accustom to the car. And, after a few days, you'll find your right foot working with the transmission to circumvent its personality traits.
On the plus side however, the DSG transmission does extract every last kilowatt the engine has to offer, while also keeping fuel consumption to a minimum. The official combined ADR fuel consumption figure for the Passat 118TSI is just 7.8L/100km (our week of predominantly city driving tallied 8.7L/100km).
As with most German cars, the steering in Passat is quite firm, tactile and perfectly linear, the level of feedback almost on par with that found in luxury marques such as BMW or Audi. Similarly, the suspension arrangement is positive and well sorted, an agreeable blend of confident handling and a comfortable ride.
Priced from $40,990 to $67,990, the Passat model lineup offers a wide ranging list of powertrains, transmissions, specification levels and drivetrains to suit just about every application.
If you're chasing a frugal, well finished family hauler without the bulk -- and fuel bills -- associated with an SUV, then this is one wagon truly worth the weekend test drive.
CarAdvice Overall Rating: How does it Drive: How does it Look: How does it Go:
*Pricing is a guide as recommended to us by the manufacturer and does not include dealer delivery, on-road or statutory charges.
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