I am writing a review on my most recent purchase; a 2018 VW Passat 132TSI Wagon in Grey. As I drive over 60000kms a year, I needed to purchase a car that was efficient to drive, safe and affordable, while still being practical for a young family carrying prams and all the associated jazz you get with kids. Coming from a Toyota Prado I didn't want to downsize to a small car.
I had always liked the look of the Passat Wagons; they're very elegant looking. When I started doing my research into the more efficient medium to large cars, I found the Passat to be one of the best on fuel in the ratings. I also looked at SUV’s but the wagons seemed to have a better efficiency and more boot space.
I looked at other cars such as the Ford Mondeo Diesel and the new Holden ZB Commodore in the 4-cylinder turbo petrol version, along with some of the German rivals being BMW and Mercedes. I instantly wiped out the BMW and Mercedes due to cost. I then drove the VW, Commodore and Mondeo.
The VW was the most comfortable and roomier to sit in for longer distances, feeling much better ergonomically and the infotainment was very user friendly.
The vehicle was a demo and really well priced. It was fitted with the Driver Assistance Package, which has radar cruise, lane keep assist, high speed forward collision etc. The tech works really well; it’s not far off a self-drive car. It also comes standard with Apple CarPlay, which I've never had and now I don't think I could go without.
As for performance and drive, it is extremely comfortable to ride in and is well-behaved on the road. It handles as good, if not better than any car I’ve driven and I've driven many cars over time, including my work SS Commodores and XR6 Turbo's.This is a much more comfortable drive. The transmission, being a DSG, can be a little clunky around town but not enough to make me hate it, and mated with the little 132kW turbo motor it definitely feels a lot more powerful than the figures suggest. It doesn’t match the SS and XR6 Turbo, but does feel more responsive and punchy than the VF 3-litre V6 I currently have at work.
The interior space in the Passat is really good for a medium car, with my 2-and-a-half year-old unable to kick the back of the front seats, which he even managed to do in the big Prado. This doesn't come at a cost for front seat leg room either. I am tall and have long legs, and with the seat right back there is plenty of rear seat room.
The boot of the wagon is very clever. It has a cargo blind as standard and the bit I really like is a pull up cargo barrier to not only stop luggage hitting my kids in the back of the head when we have to brake, but it keeps my dumb dog from jumping over into the back seats and putting hair and dirty footprints everywhere. The boot is deep but can be a bit narrow at times with the bigger pram. It does however have very clever little storage pockets on each side and you can drop the backseats flat from the boot (unless of course you have car seats fitted).
I am yet to have any issue with the car. There was a minor warranty issue with the infotainment screen having a line through it but the local VW dealer was great getting it sorted under warranty. It has been practical in every sense and we haven't found a shortfall as a family wagon. My concern coming from the Prado was space but it definitely hasn't let me down.
If I had to criticise the Passat, the biggest issue I’ve found relates to the mostly country driving I do around roo country. The halogen lights are pretty ordinary, so it hopefully can be fixed in the next generation. I would definitely option the LED lamp pack in future. It would also be difficult to fit a light bar because if you were to mount it on a number plate mount it would obscure the driver tech out of the badge.
The other thing that I would criticise is the small centre console and glove box, however this can be overlooked as there are a heap of other storage compartments in the vehicle and they have lined large door pockets. It’s great not hearing things rattle around in them.
To sum this car up; as an entry-level, base-model car with cloth interior it definitely doesn’t feel base spec. It’s very comfortable, practical and quite punchy for a little engine and a real world fuel economy of between 6.5 to 7 litres per 100kms.
The Mondeo was a close second (however I was driving the Titanium spec second-hand at the same price) and in some areas was a little nicer, particularly the leather seats and moon roof, but the comfort and drive were much better in the VW. The Commodore (RS spec) was the most powerful and had a biggest boot of the cars I looked at, but really lacked in comfort and technology. The infotainment was crap and the driver assistance aids were basic. Then on top of that it would cost more in fuel to run. However, I would’ve got a huge discount, as being a Holden they can’t sell.
The one thing that nearly stopped me buying the Passat was a poor dealer experience from one of the largest VW dealers in Victoria. I wanted to buy at my local country dealer but this demo’s price was unable to be bettered and not many dealers had any stock, let alone a demo Passat.
I have absolutely no regrets in my decision and don’t miss the Prado. I would definitely buy another VW product again.