2012 Volkswagen Passat | first drive

Posted on Jun 26, 2012 by

Volkswagen Middle East has launched the brand-new Passat, bringing what they call ‘peerless German engineering’ and new levels of affordable luxury and innovation to the region. Speaking to Stefan Mecha, MD, Volkswagen Middle East quickly revealed that the German brand is bullish on significantly bumping up their volumes in the Middle Eastern market and are planning on introducing their international best sellers starting with the new Passat and the Polo sedan in September this year.

The new Passat is a direct competitor to the ever-popular Toyota Camry and has the potential to dethrone the Camry as the best selling car in its segment if given the right push by the company. VW has fired the first shot in this volumes war by pricing the new Passat just a few thousand dirhams more than the Camry and that will, in my opinion, should frighten the Japanese carmaker. The Camry is known for being a reliable, cost effective and frugal sedan offering adequate space and comfort. The Passat offers similar economy, comfort and space with the addition of a premium logo and that is what Volkswagen is banking on. Keep in mind though; this is not the European version but the North American and the Chinese version with an extended wheelbase offering ample space for a six-foot tall passenger to be seated comfortably behind an equally tall driver.

Available with a 2.5-litre 170bhp five-cylinder engine and a six-speed automatic gearbox, the new Passat range includes 16, 17 and 18-inch alloy wheels, electric seat adjustment, leather seats, a Fender sound system, radio-navigation system, front fog lights with static cornering lights, automatic climate control, ambiance lighting and keyless access engine starting and locking system.

Driveability is at par with other cars in this segment. There is no immediate rush of power when you floor the pedal but the power delivery isn’t disappointing. While driving in the mountains the car did feel a but out of breath while going up inclines and you will desire a bit more torque in the lower rev range. On highways however the Passat leaves nothing to complain about. There is very little engine and road noise penetrating into the cabin.

The new Passat offered in four trim levels – S, SE, SEL and SPORT. The entry level model – the S – is designed specifically for corporate customers, and features ABS and ESP safety systems, driver and passenger head curtain and side thorax airbags, a Bluetooth system with voice command, multifunction steering wheel with audio and phone controls, cruise control, radio with MP3 and CD player, a 60/40 folding rear seat, armrests in the front and rear and electronic vehicle immobilization.

The SE model includes a six-CD changer with MP3 player, a leather multifunction steering wheel, rear air vents and 16-inch San Jose alloy wheels.

In addition to the features seen on the S and SE models, the SEL brings 17-inch Sonoma alloy wheels, leather seat covers and a high-end sound system from Fender with a subwoofer in the boot. A mobile device media input with iPod and iPhone cable is also standard on the SEL, as is a powered driver’s seat, front fog and cornering lamps, keyless entry, pushbutton start, a sunroof and dual-zone climatronic air conditioning with air quality sensors.

The flagship SPORT model adds part leather seats, 18-inch Bristol alloy wheels, a touch-screen navigation system with a 30GB hard disc, SD card reader and DVD drive, memory function for the driver’s seat and a powered front passenger seat.

The new Passat also features tyre pressure sensors, insulating glass and a special acoustic film integrated into the laminated safety glass of the windscreen to help keep out external noise.

The new Passat will be built at the Chattanooga plant in Tennessee, USA. Starting prices for the Middle Eastern market are as follows.

UAE (Dubai & Abu Dhabi)   AED 90,999
Saudi Arabia                              SAR 93,900
Kuwait                                         KWD 6,999
Qatar                                            QAR 90,999
Oman                                           OMR 9,650
Bahrain                                       BHD 8,990
Jordan                                         JD 31,900
Lebanon                                     US$ 33,900
Iraq                                              US$ 25,700

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