Get an eyeful of the new VW Passat. A car VW is proud to call its flagship sedan, aside from the Passat CC (comfort coupe) which is still available and based on the old Passat. It’s a subtly pretty piece of machinery. It’s not obvious, grand or appealing to those who like massive roman pillars in front of their houses (they think BMW X6’s look good). No it’s more Neo Georgian looking. It isn’t the last thing you’ll think about before you go to bed, but every time you peer out the window towards the drive you’ll probably go… “Wow, prettier than I remembered it.” It’s bigger and wider than previous Passat’s and its got the whiff of almost an American attitude about it.

The older Passat CC grabbed a fair amount of attention at the 2008 Jo’Burg motor show, but its arrival was delayed by over a year and considering the frosty economic climate since then, which it’s weathered admirably, you can understand VW’s keenness to get the new, proper Passat out onto showrooms floors. VW Passat fans won’t be disappointed at its intelligent value for money propositions. All models are Comfortline specification and the manual, 2.0-litre TDI costs less than R310, 000 and the 1.8-litre petrol turbo, manual just under R295, 000. If you want a DSG gearbox, be prepared to add R15, 000 to the price tag.

In the past the Passat name was about as exciting as the colour beige, prefabricated walls, or your public library card. But no one plays off loyalty for “people’s cars” more than VW and a Passat, like Golf, Polo, etc, is going to need to work very hard at NOT being a sales success…, as long as it stays true to conventional VW product traits of course.

In fact it’s the most VW of all the VW’s once you step behind the wheel. The breed of good value and excellent specification defined if you will. When you’re driving it, it’s effortlessly comfortable and all the switch gear falls exactly to hand, which is fine. Better than fine, how can you criticise a car for being perfectly thought out? This niggles at me though because you also can’t help but feel you’ve mastered it in thirty seconds after climbing in. Seeking out a long term companion is admirable, but I also hope for my long term companion to keep my riveted as the years peel off the calendar. The Passat might struggle on this front.

What’s it like on the road? Well, it drives exactly like a VW. This is to say it all feels weirdly familiar. Not in a bad way, more in a “I need my mug of warm milk or I wont get to sleep” kind of way. The 2.0-litre TDI makes 103kW and an admirably good valued 320Nm. The 1.8-litre TSI does an equally cost effective job at 118kW and 250Nm. Manual or DSG automatic gearbox’s both deliver good economy and an involving driving response. They’ve been plying there trade for years at the VW marque and they are just as good as they’ve ever been… but that doesn’t make them interesting.

This Passat is a resounding success on the specification front however. Every Comfortline model comes with electrically operate and cooled drivers seats (even the cloth seats) and driver fatigue detection. And if you were to check a few of the options lists, of which their aren’t many VW buyers will be pleased to hear, its really good stuff. Like the self parking mechanism that can alley dock as well as parallel park for you now, and an electronically swiveling towbar. Apparently there is also the option of a sensor under the rear bumper that will open the boot if you swipe you foot under it to make plonking your shopping into its class leading 565-litre boot easier. It’s not clear if that toy is coming to South Africa yet but it could make for some fun and games as people wander past your Passat at the traffic lights.

Despite all this and my overall impression of the VW Passat being a very, very good car and very good value for money car more over. It irks me that the Passat is not as good a car as it feels it could’ve been. I couldn’t settle for that – knowing that I was driving around in an automakers “flagship sedan” that still felt like it was engineered by accountancy.

VW Passat Pricing:

2.0-litre TDI (manual) 103kW – R309, 000
2.0-litre TDI (DSG) 103kW – R324, 500
1.8-litre TSI (manual) 118kW – R294, 000
1.8-litre TSI (DSG) 118kW – R309, 000

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