Motoring | Test Drives

2012 Volkswagen Passat - Week 4

It might not be the easiest car to park and the brakes can be a bit grabby, but the Passat’s just sublime on long cruises

  • By Sony Thomas, Deputy Editor, wheels
  • Published: 11:33 February 11, 2013
  • Wheels

2012 Volkswagen Passat
  • Image Credit: Stefan Lindeque/ANM
  • Whether you’re driving or are just a passenger, you’re sure to come back from a long drive with minimal levels of fatigue.

January has been good to us here at wheels. We had quite a few exciting cars gracing our garage over the last few weeks, including the three exotic GTs, a Bentley Continental GT Speed and a Nissan GT-R VVIP among others.

So it was only natural that our good old long-termer took a back seat. Now that the big boys have gone back to their respective homes, there’s suddenly a renewed interest in the Passat. Anticipating this, and keeping in mind I had a trip to Fujairah planned over the weekend, I made sure I had the key well in advance.

Since Dejan had been praising the Passat’s fuel efficiency, I was curious to see how it fared on a long trip. And it definitely didn’t disappoint. Over two days, close to 450km clocked, the average fuel economy figure stood at 7.1 litres-per-100km, which was pretty impressive for a car this size. And the best thing is you needn’t compromise on anything at all to achieve this.

With its longer wheelbase freeing up more space in the cabin — to almost limo-like proportions at the back — it’s a comfortable place to stretch out and relax on a long highway cruise. Being behind the wheel is an equally pleasurable experience, too, with the perfect seating position and the nicely weighted steering adding to the typically German driving dynamics of the Passat.

Whether you’re driving or are just a passenger, you’re sure to come back from a long drive with minimal levels of fatigue. Speaking of the steering, it’s a conventional hydraulic power steering as opposed to the electrically assisted ones you’ll find in many of the rivals.

Although this makes it feel reassuringly heavy on the highway, it also calls for a lot more effort from the driver when manoeuvring in and out of parking spots. Also, I noticed that the brakes were overly grabby at low speeds, and it will take a lot of getting used to before you learn to bring the car to a smooth halt.

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But these are minor niggles that could easily be overlooked considering the other great features that this German family saloon packs.

The progress

Week 4
The 2.5-litre fourpot might not be the most powerful, but it’s definitely one of the most fuel efficient in its class.
Highs: Can be very fuel efficient and quiet.
Lows: Just don’t strain the engine over 3,500rpm.

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?

Facts

Driven by: Sony

Start mileage: 1,842km

Recent cost: Fuel

Average fuel economy: 7.1 litres-per-100km

Highs: Quiet, comfortable ride, spacious cabin

Lows: Steering a bit too heavy at low speeds

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