ATTENTION TO COMFORT
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.