Volkswagen India reintroduced the Passat in India recently. This was the car that the company entered India with, back in 2007 and now a decade later, will again serve as the flagship car in the Indian market for Volkswagen. The 2017 Volkswagen Passat is based on an all new MQB platform that underpins many Volkswagen Group cars. Surprisingly, this is the first Volkswagen in India to be based on this platform. The eighth generation Volkswagen Passat was introduced nearly 3 years back globally, and is now finally here to serve us in India. We got a chance to drive this all new luxury sedan from Udaipur to Jaipur for nearly 400 kms. Here’s a detailed road test review about this German beauty.
The Volkswagen Passat has always been about understated looks and the legacy continues with this eighth generation model. The car we see here gets a nice drooping nose with sharp looking LED headlights and a typical multi-slatted chrome front grill. In fact, the grill and the headlights merge together really well and give a continuous wide look to the front. The lower section of the bumper in typical Volkswagen fashion, comes with a thin strip of chrome and cornering lights at either ends. The sides are characterised by the sharp shoulder line that runs from the front wheel arch to the rear. The rear view mirrors are mounted on the doors instead of the A-pillar, while the 17-inch alloy wheels look elegant. The rear design is where you will be reminded of the previous generation Passat. The design is now completed by slimmer full LED Tail lights and a plain, but chunky-looking rear bumper. The entire car gets a chrome strip on the lower section which gives it that luxury car look. Overall, the design of the new Volkswagen Passat will turn heads due to its stylish front end and will age rather well, thanks to its clean German design cues.
The highline trim of the Volkswagen Passat gets an all black interior theme. The dashboard is laid out in typical Volkswagen fashion, which means it is superbly built, but misses some of the new age and innovative design elements. That said, the dashboard gets an Audi-like design with multiple strips that hideaway the front AC vents in them. The centre console gets a touchscreen infotainment system which is pretty up-to-date, with features like apple CarPlay and android auto, but we would have definitely appreciated a bigger touchscreen display. The steering wheel is again a familiar affair and can be seen even on cars like the Polo. The instrument cluster is easy to read and gets a central multi-information display. One of the major highlights of the 2017 Volkswagen Passat cabin is the matte finish wood panel that runs across the dashboard, front door and also the rear door, and also the retro-looking analog clock atop the dashboard. There are also features like a three-zone climate control system, a start-stop engine button, controls for the rear electric sun blind and the various drive modes.
The seats on the 2017 Volkswagen Passat come with black Nappa leather that feel rich and premium. The front driver and passenger seats are fully electrically adjustable with lumbar support, while the driver’s seat gets first in the class massaging function too. The feelgood factor at the rear seat is added by the panoramic sunroof, sunblinds for the rear windows and the rear windshield, and also the rear AC vents. The build quality as always on any Volkswagen is brilliant and easily the best in class, with good quality plastics. Space at the rear isn’t class-leading, but even for a 6-footer there is enough legroom to be at comfort. The rear bench though, is most comfortable for two, thanks to the high central tunnel and the protruding rear centre armrest. Boot space is enormous at 586 litres.
The Volkswagen Passat is powered by a 2 Litre Diesel engine that develops 177 bhp and comes mated to 6 speed dual clutch automatic gearbox. The gearbox drives the front wheels only, like most other cars based on the MQB platform. Power delivery is extremely linear and the reason for this linearity is the smooth operating six speed gearbox with well-chosen ratios. The engine has a gravelly note that cannot be ignored when standing next to the car, but once settled inside, noise levels are pretty well contained. You do hear the engine in here, but it feels extremely smooth with no hint of vibration at all, which is impressive. This is a strong engine and driving it out on the highway is a joy. The car cruises effortlessly at high speeds and often you do not realise the speeds you are doing. Wind noise is superbly contained as well, but there is a bit of tyre noise that creeps in when the road surface is less than perfect. The gearbox complements the engine superbly with quick and smooth shifts.
The 2017 Volkswagen Passat comes with Dynamic Chassis Control (DCC) that alters the suspension, steering system and gearbox according to any of the drive modes (eco, comfort, sport, normal, individual). The ride quality in Sport mode gets pretty hard, and you realise each and every bump inside the cabin. In comfort mode though, the ride is pliant and there is less movement in the back seat. The ride is very well damped and can be comfortable, given that you are in the right driving mode. The Sport mode also weighs up the steering system, and there is a lot more heft to it. This gives you confidence to push the car to the limits. In fact, overall dynamics of the new Passat are quite confidence-inspiring. The car feels extremely planted at speeds as high as 180kmph. It also masks long distances well. Our 400 km drive from Udaipur felt as if we covered less than half of it, still feeling fresh at our destination, Jaipur.
The 2017 Volkswagen Passat comes loaded with safety features like 9 airbags, ESC, hill start assist, electromagnetic parking brake, auto hold function, 360degree camera, and handsfree parking with Park Assist.
The Volkswagen Passat is a brilliantly engineered, luxury car. Although it has a confused focus – whether to pamper the rear seat passenger or to thrill the driver. Our bet would be that Volkswagen chose to focus more on the driver, going by the sporty all black interior, DCC and the beautiful dynamics. This car will appeal to the younger generation, rather than some wealthy lawyer. This is a car best enjoyed from the driver’s seat, but when you have to go for that odd party with your wife, this one won’t disappoint from the back seat as well, thanks to its comfortable ride quality and rear seat space (for two). It has been priced at a premium, but its one that you would like to pay, if you are in your 30s, like to drive and don’t fancy other German mini SUVs.
Words: Siddhant Nagvekar; Photography: Ritesh Madhok