High-mileage drivers and families rejoice, writes Matt Kimberley, because the eerily quiet new Passat is finally here.
What’s new? ‘All-new’ doesn’t translate as ‘unfamiliar’ in Volks-speak, so while most new Passat’s parts are genuinely new, the controls and layout are familiar. Big improvements have been made in sound insulation and refinement, but petrol power has been kicked out. This Passat is diesel only andudging by minuscule past sales, it shouldn’t be a problem.
Looks and image: Not the emotional tour de force Volkswagen would have you believe, but it’ll still look as middle-management handsome in 10 years as it does today. Strong lines but restrained shapes - more defined and distinguished with age. The Passat has always maintained a solid image centred on quality, space and comfort. It’s never dramatic, but it’s done the job. This time there’s something to get more excited about as new sound deadening makes the milemuncher’s cabin one of the quietest places anywhere. It’s exceptionally, eerily quiet.
Space and practicality: Along with a huge boot – 586 litres (saloon) and a gargantuan 650 (estate) with the rear seats in place, there’s more rear leg and shoulder room. The car is a gnat’s wing lower and shorter than the old model, but it’s a little bit wider, so parking in bay spaces is a tiny bit trickier. There’s aautomated and semi-automated parking aids but on a practicality note, avoid the cream interior. After only a few hundred miles the test car had already started to look grubby.
Behind the wheel: The spooky quietness turns your thoughts to the high-quality interior materials, albeit on our range-topping test mule. There’s little or no wind noise, and not even the wide tyres make much racket. On a slight negative there are plenty of blank switches around the gearstick, unless you get the highest trim levels.
Adjustable driving modes make loads of difference to ride and handling, but it’s Comfort mode suits the Passat best. The others are too unforgiving over bumps, but engage Comfort and the miles just fly by.
Value for money: Avoid the over £5,000 price jump for the bi-turbo engine and get a lot of car for your cash. SE Business trim, with its sat-nav and treasure chest of trinkets, is the one.
Who would buy one? Apparently, 80% of Passats will be company cars, so high-mileage drivers first in the queue. Low emissions and supreme refinement make it not just tax-friendly, but a tempting alternative to the Audi A4 and Mercedes CClass. It’s a significant step up, and without resorting to clichés it really is rather nice.