Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Quality Passat Ups the Ante

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Quality Passat Ups the Ante

Article excerpt

Byline: By Malcolm Robertshaw

In the autumn of 1996, Volkswagen set the motoring world talking with the introduction of the striking new Passat. It was the fifth generation of the mid-size family car first launched in 1973 and it certainly set a new benchmark for interior quality.

In short, it was a hard act to follow.

From June 24, the sixth generation Passat takes up the baton, aiming to continue the good work of its predecessor by raising standards even further in the heavily-populated family car/repmobile sector.

Bigger and better than the outgoing model and priced from under pounds 15,000, it will go head-to-head with the likes of Ford's Mondeo, Vauxhall Vectra and Peugeot 407, with Volkswagen targeting a UK sales figure of around 32,000 in a full year ( split up into 19,000 saloons and 13,000 estate cars due on stream this November.

From launch, a quartet of engines will be available ( 1.6-litre FSI 113bhp and two-litre FSI 148bhp petrol, plus diesel power represented by 1.9-litre 103bhp TDI and two-litre TDI 138bhp.

VW also promises two-litre TDI 168bhp, two-litre T-FSI 198bhp and 3.2-litre FSI V6 248bhp engines to follow by the year-end while six-speed manual and automatic transmission systems are offered for all models and the innovative clutchless Direct Shift Gearbox (DSG) is also an option for the two-litre diesel derivative.

Trim levels of S, SE, Sport and SEL are generous, with the entry level 1.6 FSI S model including semi-automatic air con, electric front windows, electrically adjustable and heated door mirrors and four-speaker sound system with CD.

Undercutting its predecessor by pounds 175, this base model is a competitive pounds 14,995 and its value for money is enhanced by standard issue ABS braking with Brake Assist and Electronic Brake Force Distribution, Electronic Stabilisation Programme and a sextet of airbags. Whichever you plump for, the Passat has quality in spades.

Styling cues with a hint of VW's Phaeton luxury limo and sculpted lines down the flanks linking eye-catching lighting set-ups front and rear, contribute to a bold, handsome silhouette.

While I preferred the brushed aluminium trim to the wood inserts on some models, build quality shines through in a superbly-crafted, generously-roomy cabin within which both the fabrics and plastics have that expensive look and feel. …

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