Variable variant values

Text and photos by Clifford Chow, Oneshift.com.

Introduction & Exterior

Value has plenty of interpretations. In this case, the Volkswagen Passat Variant brings it to you by way of more utility space. Fact is, we found that the more upmarket Audi A6 Avant cousin offers quite a bit less than the Passat.

We tested the eighth-generation Passat Sedan recently and there was so much praise about how it looked and its poise and road manners.


Exterior

The bulk of the Variant model looks just the same as the Sedan. Crisp and clean lines, which see continuity even into and through the headlamps, trick LED brake lamps, which illuminate horizontally, and switch diagonally when the brakes are depressed.

 

The rear of the Variant is pretty to look at, carrying some similarities as it's smaller Golf Variant sibling, the bigger Passat looks more stretched out, with no size constraints compared to the Golf. Side glass gently tapers downward to the rear, framed by the car's roofline and a slightly thicker D pillar, and accented by a chrome strip. The pinching in the sheet metal on the side of the car, forming subtle shoulders, adds to the impression of strength, and extends to the rear of the car, and terminates into the tail lamps. Another addition you might miss, are the rather subtle roof rails for added cargo porting room. Snugly sitting under the wheel arches are large 235/40R19 tyres, which complete the look of the car.

While it does share the Sedan's footprint, the rear does make the Variant model seem much bigger a car.

For a few mm shorter than the previous car, the new car actually has more space, partially due to a longer wheelbase, which sees an extension of 79mmm, extending the car's wheelbase to 2,791mm. The Variant is just slightly taller than the Sedan, due to the need to keep the roofline's height to cater for better cargo room at the rear.


Interior

Providing an air of sophistication over it's smaller siblings, the Passat carries an analogue clock sited in the middle of the dash, flanked by metal accented air conditioning vents. The instrument binnacle, like the Sedan has been digitised, to provide the driver with more flexibility with the display. From monitoring fuel figures and car status checks, the "Discover Pro" SatNav is also reflected within the display, and the size of the dials can be reduced further to provide more map area to aid in navigation.

The infotainment system controls comes in the form of an 8" touchscreen, which also provides mobile linkage via MirrorLink for Android smartphones, and Bluetooth connectivity. USB and Aux points are available too. WiFi connectivity through your own SIM card is now possible; meaning that the car is a moving hotspot, for users to connect their devices to the internet, good for those long trips up North.

Frontal leg room is excellent, with two memory settings for the driver's side electric seat. Additionally, front passengers do get thigh support.

Rear passengers too get plenty of sprawl space. Legroom is sufficient for adults. Although the fifth passenger would not enjoy the transmission tunnel.

Air conditioning offered is a tri zone climate control unit. Frontal vents form a straight path across the dash, only to be punctuated by the clock and the instrument binnacle.

Sound quality from the "DYNAUDIO Confidence" exclusive sound system, is actually good, with a woofer placed within the spare tyre well (this car self-sealing tyres) for pretty good bass.

Where the Variant does shine, is the boot space it can provide. Mentioned earlier, it had more space than the Audi A6 Avant. The automated boot lid opens to reveal 650 litres with the seats up, and once the 60:40 rear seats are folded down, you get a grand 1,780 litres to play with. In contrast, the A6 does offer an already good 565 litres, and grows to 1,689 litres. As a plus, the floorboard in the boot area can also be dropped about an inch and a half if there are any taller items that might need to fit.

So yeah, if you are thinking about doing a round of golf with three friends in tow, then hitting the supermarket later on for some groceries to bring home, then head out to maybe Ikea for a for a long chest of drawers, the Passat Variant will be able to handle all that.


How it Drives and Conclusion

There are four pre-set drive modes to pick from, and one customisable one. The "Comfort" setting gets the suspension soaking up the bumps well, but with a slight bit of roll around the corners. Flip the car to "Sport", the electromagnet suspension firms up, and the six-speed DSG delays cog switches, turning the once relaxed estate vehicle into something that would hark back to the days when you did own a really good hot hatch (that is if you did own one). Steering feel is near excellent, and you can feel the weight of the car shifting from one end to the other, with the suspension sorting out the rear wheels, as you put the car through its paces around some tight corners.

A few moments with the car, and you'd see your confidence grow, as you dare enter corners quicker, and dropping cogs with the paddle shifter before committing to a turn. You'd be rewarded with the 2.0 giving all of its 350Nm, which starts at a very low 1,500rpm, when coming out of a bend, keeping the torque tap on till 4,400rpm. Gearshifts from the 6-speed DSG transmission are quick, and without power loss, allowing the engine to keep its boost. You'd think that an estate car would be rather soggy around the bends, due to the additional weight that the rear has to carry. But in all, the Variant takes to the corners almost like a larger GTI, with the front pushing out just a little from understeer if you apply the power too early.

Century sprint performance is at 6.9 seconds, which is just 0.2 seconds slower than the Sedan, which in turn is just 0.2 seconds slower than the Golf GTI.


Conclusion

Perhaps you may find that the Variant might cost quite a tidy sum going for nearly $188,000 (30 November 2016). But the Passat has crossed over to a higher segment. And looking from that angle, there is plenty of value that you can find here.

We absolutely love how the car handles, and equally how good a profile it cuts.

Read the original article here.

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