Volkswagen new Passat: Impressive improvement

The new Passat was launched by the Volkswagen group in Paris on the eve of the Paris Motor Show and as the car was being unveiled, the first impression was that it looked like a Baby Phaeton.

A three-dimensional grille dominates the front of this car. The reverse angle from the headlamps to the grille points downwards and, coupled with the low air intake and the low fog lamps, emphasises the wide look. The front of the new Passat is much sharper than the outgoing model. The side profile of the car is clearly defined by a taut look with the character line that runs all the way round the car. The rear lamps with their design again echo a theme from the Phaeton.

The car is loaded with safety features. Let us just name a few new ones, because the list is unending. To start with, there is a driver fatigue detection system which is being introduced for the first time in a Volkswagen car. The system detects flagging driver concentration and warns the driver with an acoustic signal lasting five seconds while a visual message also appears in the instrument cluster. The city emergency braking system protects one from collisions at speeds below 40 km/h, a very handy system for the Indian bumper-to-bumper city traffic.
The city parking system selects a parking slot that is suitable for the car as you drive by and gives an indication in the meter console to the driver that it has selected the parking slot. All you need to do is select reverse and modulate the brakes while the car steers itself into the slot.

The moment you step inside this car, you can feel quality and luxury. Starting from the leather seats that support you in all the right places and make you feel absolutely relaxed, the fit finish and the quality of material inside the car are top class.

The new Passat has McPherson struts with lower wishbone and anti-roll bar at the front and a four-link suspension with an anti-roll bar at the rear.

The two-litre TDI common rail engine has been further improved by extracting more power and fuel efficiency. At the same time, they have also refined the engine further by reducing vibration and clatter. In fact, it is difficult to differentiate between the petrol and diesel variants. Now the engine makes 170 PS at 4,200 rpm and a hefty 350 Nm of torque between 1,750 and 2,500 rpm. This high torque at low rpm endows the car with a solid punch while accelerating from low speeds. This two-litre TDI engine is mated to a six-speed DSG (direct shift gearbox) with paddle shift.

The road conditions in Barcelona were perfect to put the Passat through her paces as the motorway conditions highlighted her long-distance capabilities and, at the same time, the country roads gave you enough opportunity to test the handling capability of the car.

The first thing you notice as you start driving the new Passat is that you are totally isolated from all the road and wind noise. You get a safe and secure feeling as if you are cocooned in safety. The hard work that they have put in to reduce the NVH by using special glasses all round has paid off. This was one of the quietest cabins I have experienced. This is a long-distance car as it munches miles on the motorway without any effort. The car is extremely rewarding to drive on tight and twisting roads as she holds her line round corners as if she were on rails. The suspension set-up is spot on as she offers excellent ride quality and, at the same time, handles like a dream. The electro-mechanical Servotronic steering with speed-dependent power assistance gives a good feedback and is light at low speed in city traffic and weighs up nicely as the speed increases.

The two-litre TDI engine with the DSG box gives the car very good drivability as she pulls strongly right from 10 km/h onwards thanks to the high torque at low rpm and the super-efficient DSG box. This is an easy car to drive within city traffic as well as on the highways and, if you wish to have some fun, you can use the sport mode and use the paddle shifters and throw her round corners and I can guarantee you that she will bring a smile to your face.

After spending a day with the new Passat it is certain that the car has improved in every department, be it looks, performance, ride, handling or the quality of interior. All I can say is that the best just got better.

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