Motoring | Test Drives

2012 Volkswagen Passat - Week 3

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

  • By Dejan Jovanovic, wheels
  • Published: 11:45 February 6, 2013
  • Wheels

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

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 An outdated and underpowered engine, sure, but over in the slow lane, I swear you’d never tell.


  • 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

Related Links
The progress

Week 3
A small niggling issue with the radio presets could leave you humming Justin Bieber all day long.
Highs Nice Fender sound system
Lows Not so nice radio preset controls and electronic brain

Week 2
A trip to a furniture store has us scratching our heads at the massive cargo, but the Passat lived up to it with its 529-litre boot.
Highs Massive interior and cargo room
Lows Good thinking with the 60/40 seats, but extra step needed to drop the seats down

Week 1
We were happy to welcome the new American-built VW Passat to our household — after all, we did vote it the wheels best mid-size saloon of 2012.
Highs We know it’s good: it’s our 2012 midsize saloon of the year
Lows But will we still think so three months down the line?

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