2008 Volkswagen Passat V6 | road test

Posted on Aug 19, 2008 by

You might not realise
that this new top-of-the-range, mid-size saloon car from
is actually a rather exciting prospect, until you drive it! The
Passat V6 FSI is like a powerfully-efficient secret agent in full and
perfect disguise. On crowded Dubai streets, you might not notice this
efficient performer amongst all the glamorous, go-getting
Mercedes-Benz and BMW cars. In a blink of an eye the powerful Passat
is gone, disappearing a little quicker than you might imagine
possible.

is a
good looking car with strong and modern body lines, giving the sixth
incarnation of the Passat model range a well-thought-out yet
understated look – a sense of ‘not-shouting’ style that VW are
always keen to shout about. This car, after all, is aimed at a
professional man or woman who doesn’t feel the need to announce
their arrival with oversized wheels, spoilers and bonnet bulges. But,
thanks to that V6 engine first seen in the pleasing R32 Golf, the
pumped-up Passat is more than ready for some action; if you’re
feeling boisterous, that is.

Its performance figures
speak for themselves; underneath that mild-mannered exterior lays a
250bhp, 3.2-litre V6 engine that really tugs the Passat along by the
collar with plenty of gusto, even though the car is fairly well
weighed down with luxury – 100kph comes in just 6.9-seconds whilst
the top speed is a dragster-esque 246kph. This saloon is no slouch.

All of this pulsating
performance is well wrapped-up in the right safety package too,
meaning the driving experience is never frightening; it’s more
enlightening; the grip and composure of the chassis and suspension
buoying-up your bravado and turning you into a better driver the more
you push the car. This road-tester certainly enjoyed the Passat
through twists and turns and roundabouts.

VW’s well-developed
4MOTION four-wheel drive system, again seen to good effect on the
Golf R32, works a treat in the Passat too, distributing the engine
torque to all four corners of the car within micro-seconds, instant
decisions that all add up to a nicely planted car that’s happy to
receive the ‘point-and-shoot’ treatment usually reserved for what
people call ‘pure drivers cars’ and not motorway cruise-liners,
of which this car must surely more honestly call itself.

The smooth and silky
engine grunt is pretty well faultlessly delivered by the
state-of-the-art, twin-clutch DSG gearbox; giving you fast upwards
and downwards gear changes in full auto mode, or by using the
nicely-precise ‘up and down’ paddles nestling behind the luxury
and sporty steering wheel of the Passat. Switch the gearbox into the
sport mode and things get really racy with delayed up-shifts and revy
‘gear-holding’ that keeps the engine power and the mechanical
soundtrack in their sweet spots, heightening your senses and driving
pleasure. So, is the Passat a pure-bred driver’s car or a motorway
kilometre-eater? Well, it’s a bit of both.

Your only clue to the hot
VW’s performance prowess come from the extra chrome on the
medallion-shaped front grille, the staring, challenging headlights
and circuit-inspired, multi-spoke alloy wheels – and all this is
only probably spotted by the more trained and in-touch automotive
eye, leaving the rest of the car to exude a decent level of quality,
but never flamboyance.

Inside you are again
greeted with good quality and all the luxury and technology you could
ever realistically need. The front seats are simply stunning; a work
of automotive art in sandy-beige Alcantara – beautiful to behold
and completely at your adjustment-command in twelve different
electronically-assisted directions. Just lovely! The beige-theme does
continue, a little too much in my opinion, throughout the rest of the
interior, with many of the plastic surfaces that met my eye just that
little bit too, well, beige. There are other colour options with
which to deck-out your own Passat interior, so you can banish the
beige if you like, but just make sure you keep those fabulous seats,
as every day that you nestle down into them will be a real treat.

 

 

Rear passenger legroom is
not so great for a car with a wheelbase that measures a lengthy
2.72-meters, but overall, the interior feels spacious enough, no
doubt helped by that light beige colour, and the boot is certainly
big enough to make the Passat a reasonable family-man choice, too. I
definitely enjoyed my time inside the V6 VW; I would be happy to
describe the interior space as a comfortable and quality-feeling
place to be, but you do have to remind yourself to just relax and
drive, rather than fiddle with all of the gadgets, of which there are
many.

Useful touches, such as
the controllable bi-xenon headlights offer impressive long-distance
visibility down our dark desert roads, with the integrated
cornering-illumination following the bends in the road as you turn
the steering wheel and neatly lighting your path. It may sound like a
small thing, but you miss it when you don’t have it in other cars.

Possibly a little less
useful is the ‘Park Steering Assistant.’ This gizmo offers an
automated option when manoeuvring into a parking space that is
parallel to the road. The driver works the accelerator and brake
pedals whilst the car steers itself into the parking space with a
space sensor. It feels a little odd to have a car driving for you and
you must remember to stop the car when you’re parked, as it will
only steer for you. Whilst the system works well enough, it seems to
take a little too much time to sort itself out; time that you could
have spent walking away from the car that you’d already manually
parked a minute or so earlier, giving you more time to hit the malls.
A glimpse into the future no doubt, but unless you’re particularly
prone to crashing and scraping your expensive wheels against the
kerb, you probably won’t use this device often, if at all.

So, the looks are
pleasantly understated, the performance and driving characteristics
are very enjoyable and the levels of comfort and cruising capability
are also to be admired; the only slight problem I foresee though, is
that the V6 Passat sits on the consumer fence too much – premium
brand cruiser, or cracking driver’s car? If you want both then this
really is a great car choice for you, and at prices for the V6
starting from AED 139,000, you get two cars in one, but usually a
customer wants either one or the other.

Volkswagen may now be in
a position to take the fight to Mercedes and BMW, but I’m still
interested to see if you can actually persuade a buyer out of
Mercedes or BMW for the same amount of money? However, even with
these wider questions unanswered, the V6 Passat still delivers well
across the board and as such is definitely a recommended test drive
for anyone looking in this sector of the market.

Technical Specifications

BodyStyle – 4-door mid-size sedan
Price – AED 139,000
Engine – 3.2-litre V6
Power – 250bhp
Torque – 246Nm
Transmission – Dual-clutch DSG
Top Speed – 246km/h
0-100km/h – 6.9 secs

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