VW Passat get the details right

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A rear view of the VW Passat 132TSI Wagon

The Passat wagon has a well-sorted load area that is only one item on a long list of well-thought-out practical details.


VW Passat 132TSI wagon

Price: $36,990 + orc
Engine: 1.8L 4cyl turbo-petrol
Safety: ESC, ABS, 9 airbags, tyre pressure warning, reversing camera, driver fatigue warning.
Economy: 7.6L/100km
Value: ****

Sedan-based wagons continue to enjoy a reasonable share of the market, which interestingly in­cludes a fair proportion of younger drivers. Whether it’s for individuality against the unabated popularity of SUVs or simply a rejection of SUVs’ new-found homely image, a wagon sets the car and driver apart, offering practicality with considerably more style and without sacrificing driver engagement.

Dashboard view of the VW Passat 132TSI Wagon


In addition to elegant looks, the new Volkswagen Passat wagon is a model of practicality. Sharp presentation and quality trim materials are now a recognised hallmark of VW interiors, and starting with the load area (which is, after all, the only difference to the sedan), there is a long list of well-thought-out details. Head rests recess to aid driver vision when there are no passengers.

There are no unwanted intrusions in the large square compartment, with its hard flat floor, no load lip and an easy access height. A full-size spare wheel sits underneath, and there’s a neat storage pocket on each side along with release latches to fold the 60/40-split back seat while standing under the tailgate. At least 2m of load length is available with seats folded, although they don’t lie totally flat, and there are two positions for the cargo securing net.


Occupants in the rear will find the seats spacious and nicely shaped for two adults, with plenty of leg and headroom. A centre arm-rest includes cup holders, the storage pockets on the seat back and door are convenient and a temperature control is integrated with the air vents. Three children could fit but not all in child seats. Anchorages are easily accessed and ISOFIX is provided.

All this says there’s an overwhelming feeling of good design here that’s typical of the current generation of VWs, with smart, clear presentation and first-class fit and finish. Even this entry model’s cloth trim looks sharp as well as appearing enduring. Instrumentation features a classic two-dial setup with a digital information screen between them. A 6.5-inch navigation and audio screen sits neatly in the centre dash with easy-to-identify dials and buttons around it.


Steering wheel view of the VW Passat 123TSI Wagon


A highlight for drivers is the shaping and adjustability of their seat. Despite less-than-reassuring manual levers for height and tilt, this seat has a long cushion for leg support, a massive amount of travel adjustment and power-operated squab and lumbar adjustment. It’s also nicely bolstered for side support.

All three cars in the Passat line-up have wagon options to the sedan for $2000 extra. Our test car, the 132TSI, is $34,990/$36,990 plus on-road costs. The 132TSI Comfortline ($39,990/ $41,990) comes with a driver assistance package as well as leather-appointed trim, heated seats, advanced infotainment, fog lights and keyless access. The 140TDI diesel Highline ($45,990/ $47,990) steps up the presentation with higher-grade leather appointments, premium trip computer, 18-inch alloys, and luxury trim detail. Highline is the only model where you can option a $3500 pack that includes active parking assist and a panoramic sunroof.


In the 132TSI, the 1.8L 4cyl turbo- petrol engine delivers smooth and effortless performance. Aided by the 7spd DSG automatic transmission, with its almost seamless shifts, the engine always feels ready for changing driving conditions and responds willingly, without annoying downshift delays. A hill-hold function negates awk­­ward starts. The self-activating clutch can, however, feel a little disconcerting in slow parking manoeuvres.

The gearing, along with maximum torque produced from just 1250rpm, ensures this Passat is both agile around town and a relaxed cruiser.


In addition to its entertaining performance, the 132TSI is also blessed with the right suspension set-up for both enjoyable ride and surefooted handling. Starting with its 55-profile tyres that cushion short sharp bumps, the ride is always compliant, even on corrugated dirt roads, and yet the precise handling has not suffered. Electric power steering is evenly weighted with crisp turn into corners, the car sits balanced and poised through a series of bends, and the extended electronic differential lock ensures optimum traction at all times.


For all its well-considered practicality and sharp styling, VW Passat wagon is nevertheless an engaging driver’s car, and arguably the entry-level 132TSI is the most appealing package.

Written by Ernest Litera
April 04, 2016



Pricing: *** ½
Features & equipment: *** ½
Presentation: ****
Comfort: *****
Ride quality: ****
Noise: ****
Performance: ****
Economy: ****
Handling & braking: **** 1/2
Safety (ANCAP): *****


Price: $36,990 + $4504 (est.) on-road costs. Model range $34,990-$47,990.
Safety: 9 airbags. Reversing camera. Front/rear parking sensors. Auto lights/wipers. ISOFIX fittings. Driver fatigue warning. Tyre pressure warning.
Standard features: Three-zone climate-control. Sat-nav. Part-electric front seats. Cloth upholstery. Roof rails. Apple CarPlay & Android Auto.
Options: Autonomous emergency braking. Adaptive cruise control. Lane departure warning. Lane-keeping assist. Blind spot system.


Drivetrain: 1798cc 4cyl turbo-petrol engine. 7spd DSG. FWD. 132kW, 250Nm. 70L fuel tank. 7.6L/100km (RACV figure); 6.0L/100km (govt figure).
Wheels: 17” alloy, 215/55 R17 tyres. Full-size alloy spare.
Towing: 1800kg braked trailer capacity (90kg towball load).
Environment: 137g/km CO2.


Ford Mondeo. Best cross-country handling, and loaded with equipment. $34,640 (2.0L petrol), $38,640 (2.0L diesel)
Hyundai i40. Good all-rounder, with features, finishes and extended warranty. $32,490 (2.0L petrol), $35,090 (1.7L diesel)
Mazda6. Best overall package for presentation, build quality and value. $33,840 (2.5L petrol), $41,780 (2.2L diesel)

Front view of the Ford Mondeo
Rear view of the Hyundai i40
Rear view of the Mazda 6