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Volkswagen Passat R-Line 2.0 TSI (DSG) Review

Text and photos by Clifford Chow,

Her symmetrically angled grill accompanied along the top by a chrome strip, spanning over and to the sides of her headlamps. In turn the headlamps looked deep set under those lenses. Although they were large, with a tinge of aggression, they exuded a sense of calmness from her gaze, a sense of reassurance. Assurance came in the form of classy LED headlamps with turning lamps included.

Her proportionate bonnet looked the part. Long, with continuity from the grille, toward, and forming the A pillar. Another subtle line passing from the inside of the headlamp units join up with the break between the bonnet and the front fender, making a crease which runs along the doors, below the front and rear window sills, to terminate at the C pillar. A pinch in the sheet metal, beginning after the front wheel arch, flows below this crease, and through the door grab handles; creating beautifully sculpted shoulders, tapering slightly upward and finding their way to define the top edge of the boot lid.

In the rear, tail lamps flow near flush with the bodywork, striped in design, they illuminate, displaying a red horizontal series of lines, which are only to change to a vertical angle illumination when the brakes are depressed.

Her emblem seated in the middle of the boot lid doubles as the handle, keeping away ugly key holes, or bumps for an obvious place to house the rubber gob for the switch actuated solenoid boot opener.

What made all 4,767mm of the Passat all so special was that, while almost the same length as the previous car, her added wheelbase of 79mm, extending her wheelbase to 2,791, meant that she provided more room for you. More space to stretch out, and surely, a more comfortable ride. Width-wise sees a minor increase of 12mm to 1,832mm. While looking just slightly sleeker with 14mm less in height, she sat at 1,456mm tall.


Ok enough of speaking as if she's a real person. The first thing you'd likely notice about the Passat, is how much attention the guys at VW have given to the dash. Metal accented air conditioning vents, with continued styling which spans across the centre console to the passenger side, and on the centre console, no one would be able to miss the beautiful analogue clock which sits in the centre of the dash. With all this modern switchgear, the brilliant idea of having an analogue clock really does stand out as a classy link to the past.

Behind the wheel, the dashboard is fully digitised and very customisable. The display area between the dials, is switchable from monitoring fuel economy and checking car information, to displaying the car's "Discover Pro" SatNav, which according to Volkswagen, has been further optimised to provide quicker route calculation. In this mode, the driver is also able to reduce the size of the speed and rev dials to increase the display area of the map.

The amount of thought that went into the user interface is astounding. Within the instrument binnacle, lies an eight-inch main touchscreen display unit, similar to other Volkswagens in their range. Inclusive with the system is MirrorLink for Android smartphone connectivity. USB connectivity is via a point located in the central compartment, together with an auxiliary connecting point for the likes of an MP3 player. As a plus, the B8 Passat now comes with WiFi connectivity, which can be an excellent thing for those long road trips up North.

Air-conditioning is a dual-zone climate control unit in front, and another climate control unit at the rear.

The electric driver's seat with two memory settings, and come with lumbar support and a massage function. There is plenty of legroom for rear passengers, with plenty of stretch room for my 172cm.

Cargo space is a very good 586 litres, which is 21 litres more than the previous model. Folding the 60/40 rear seats down, brings up the maximum load to 1,152 litres. In contrast, the Ford Mondeo has a 550 litre volume, and 1,466 litres with seats folded. Maximum advantage to the Ford, but again, we don't normally drive with the seats down.

How it drives

What we really love about the car is that the same 2.0 found in the iconic Golf GTi, has found it's way into the Passat. Meaning that performance is a mind blowing 6.7 seconds. In essence, the bigger and heavier Passat is just 0.2 seconds slower than the iconic Golf GTi.

With the R-Line model, we got 18" alloys, which gives excellent grip, but on the flip side, passenger comfort did suffer with the enhanced handling. There was some noise intrusion from more serious bumps on the road, but as a compromise for good handling, we certainly loved how the car felt.

In Sports mode, the electromagnetic suspension which is part of Volkswagen's Dynamic Chassis Control system keeps the suspension firm, but never rock-hard-jarring. Directional changes are taken in stride without much body roll. The system works not with a static set of settings, but one which adapts and adjusts with the conditions presented to it. We simply loved how the Passat could eat up tight corners. Powering out form them with a front drive platform would normally induce plenty of understeer, especially with the maximum torque of 350Nm on tap at 1,500rpm. But the traction control keeps the front from misbehaving, the moment the wheels begin slipping up. For added involvement, the R-Line comes equipped with paddle shifters behind the wheel, for you to manually switch gears of the 6-speed DSG transmission.

When revving above 3,000rpms the engine becomes a raspy sort of vocal, but the excellent engine mounts mean that you do not get vibrations intruding into the cabin.

With three modes, "Sport", "Normal" and "Comfort", the biggest surprise was that of the three, the most rewarding of the three was in "Comfort" mode, where the Dynamic Chassis Control works its magic of giving you a smooth, comfortable ride, while still ensuring that body roll is kept at bay around corners. On the straights, she rides almost like a soft fluffy cloud, but without the uncontrolled bounce you might get from other cars.

With the added use of aluminium, the Passat has seen weight reduced, according to sources at VW, on some models, up to 87kg. What I do know, is that this is a rather large car, but handling-wise, it is nimble.


Volkswagen has successfully built a much bigger car within almost the same footprint, with iconic GTi performance. No longer a just another full-sized sedan, she now falls into the much sought after executive car segment.

She's quick on her toes, yet so classy.

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