Words and photos by Kevin C. Limjoco
There is elegance in simplicity. The new Volkswagen Passat fits that description. It looks very inoffensive and stoic, so much so that it almost looks deliberately visually unexceptional. VW’s own new four-door coupé CC model’s f lamboyance more than makes up for the Passat’s indifference. The 2014 Passat is unchanged from last year’s model that we tested using different engine variants ranging from the direct injection turbocharged gasoline Inline-4 to the forgettable inline-5, to the excellent 280 bhp V6. Now we test the popular 2.0-liter direct injection turbodiesel, which is found practically throughout the entire Volkswagen model range for good reason. In the top-range Passat TDI SEL Premium, Volkswagen combines its versatile engine known for its frugality and tremendous tractability with its suave mid-size saloon. The point being to offer maximum fuel range in a solid almost full size sedan for mature consumers looking for solid Teutonic ability without attracting attention.
The Passat is far from unattractive but it also doesn’t inspire fiery emotions either. But everything about it shouts quality from the simple shutting of the doors to the more vital
experience behind the steering wheel. The Fender Premium Audio System with 8 speakers plus subwoofer comes standard in this trim so you can definitely have your rocking soundtrack
to make up for whatever dryness that the exterior whispers. The minimalist and bright interior is highlighted by tasteful faux Autumn Nut Burl interior trim. Ergonomics are very straightforward and familiar. It’s a very muted and high standard cabin were you can barely hear the characteristic coarse rumble of the diesel engine but unfortunately there is perceptible road noise from the all-season Continental 235/45 R18 94H tires (on 18” x 8” alloys). You cannot defeat the traction/stability control and there are no steering wheel paddleshifts to override the dual clutch transmission, which are hardly deal breakers to its target market. The infotainment/navigation system is very good and easy to use with extensive device connectivity through the Media Device Interface, which includes a supplied iPhone cable and Bluetooth for both audio steaming and telephony but oddly our test unit didn’t have a USB input slot.
The Passat drives with purpose and handles like a much smaller car. The 12.3” front and 10.7” rear disc brakes had marginal fade when driven aggressively but overall the system worked without a hitch with good feel and confident control. The very best feature of the Passat though, which makes up for whatever little gremlin or nuance that may bother you, is its fuel range. With a slippery .29 drag coefficient, the diesel powerplant and an 18.5 gallon fuel tank, our test car had the capability to travel effortlessly for 1,180 kilometers!
So if you are looking for an authentic German mile-eater, with a huge trunk, very spacious and comfortable cabin, pedigree, and real world practicality, it’s difficult to torpedo the Passat TDI. It’s a very high quality car that can actually be fun to drive too, and with that astonishing range, it will be able to extend the experience longer than almost every sedan in its class.
Engine: Inline-4, 1968 cc, dohc 16V, Direct Injection Intercooled Turbodiesel, 6-speed DSG
Max power: 140 bhp @ 4000 rpm
Max torque: 236 lb ft @ 1750-2500 rpm
0-100 km/h (0-62 Mph): 8.6 sec.
Top speed (mph): 192 km/h (120 mph) Governed
Fuel mileage: 30 mpg City / 40 mpg Highway
Price as tested: US$ 33,915.00
+: Strong real-world driving values, incredible range, very comfortable.
-: Almost industrial, no HID headlights, no rear sonar sensors to support rear camera.
Editor’s rating: 9.5/10