2012 Volkswagen Passat - Week 3

An economy challenge uncovers another of the Volkswagen Passat’s talents, writes Dejan Jovanovic.

Image Credit: Stefan Lindeque/ANM
Six-speed gearbox is not a double-clutch DSG, but it’s still a smooth one.
Wheels

There’s good news this week, and more good news. We’ll start with the good news. The Volkswagen Passat is currently available in a sales promotion starting from Dh83,000, so if you want your very own wheels Coty contender and winner of the best mid-size saloon of 2012 award, you’re in luck.

The other good news is that when you have a five-cylinder 2.5-litre engine wheezing out 170bhp that asphyxiates itself every time the rev needle crosses 3,500rpm, helplessly reaching out for a brown paper bag, the upside is that you save yourself a lot of fuel. This is because you won’t find the ear-assault very pleasant as you rev the Passat’s sole engine choice beyond its comfort zone, instead choosing to keep the engine barely over tickover. It helps that at a steady 120kph the Passat rests at around 2,000rpm, and the instant fuel consumption display hovers at about 6.5 litres-per-100km.

That sounded like a challenge to me. How low can that figure go over the course of a week’s worth of commuting? The six-speed automatic gearbox (single clutch, not a DSG) has plenty of ratios and there’s just enough torque (240Nm) to slay the electronics’ kickdown urgency. My daily commute is 9.5km of stop-go traffic mixed with some low-speed trundling along, plus a 15km blast in the fast lane. I’d changed my strategy for the week and moved into the middle or right-most lanes of Shaikh Zayed Road mixing it with the Sunnys and the occasional scything lunatic who lane-carves everything in his sight only to get nowhere no faster.

With painfully slow acceleration and dead-on legal speeds, the Passat’s weekly fuel economy dipped to below six litres, for a day, before sporadic runs to the supermarket levelled that figure off to 6.5 litres-per-100km. An outdated and underpowered engine, sure, but over in the slow lane, I swear you’d never tell.

Facts

  • Driven by Dejan
  • Start mileage 1,500km
  • Recent cost Fuel
  • Average fuel economy 6.5 litres-per-100km
  • Highs Can be very fuel efficient and quiet
  • Lows Just don’t strain the engine over 3,500rpm