Motoring | Test Drives

2012 Volkswagen Passat - Week 5

Our new boss of bosses, James Hewes, commandeers our long-term Passat

  • By James Hewes, wheels
  • Published: 15:49 February 18, 2013
  • Wheels

Passat
  • Image Credit: Stefan Lindeque/ANM
  • The interior boasts lots of room and is very comfortable for long drives.

Having touched down in Dubai at the beginning of January, I was looking for a car
to shuttle me around for my first few weeks here. My excitement peaked when the wheels team told me they had the perfect car — my heart raced, I’d seen the Ferrari California parked outside the office… They must mean that, right? After all, this is Dubai, doesn’t everyone here drive a Ferrari?

Imagine my surprise, then, when Sony reluctantly handed me the keys to the trusty Passat. And although I’ve only spent my time shuttling up and down from hotel to office with the odd long drive thrown in, I can see why he was so reluctant to let it go.

My first impression is the huge difference between this and the previous model — it looks, feels and acts like a much bigger car. The interior is enormous and the cavernous boot effortlessly swallowed up my suitcases, golf bag and other bits of luggage.

The driving position is fine, although I can never quite get the combination of seat position and steering wheel right, and there’s plenty of visibility for the hundreds of lane changes that are an essential feature of runs up and down Shaikh Zayed Road.

Sony sung the praises of the Passat as a long-distance cruiser, and my trip out to Bab Al Shams and back confirmed his impression. The excellent Fender audio and easy iPod connection also helped.

It’s not all praise from me, though.

The steering is too heavy, something others on the team mentioned too, to the extent that U-turns and small roundabouts require more effort than they should. The rear-facing camera makes reversing into tight spaces much easier, but the general manoeuvrability of the car is some way off what it should be.
It feels big and heavy.

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Despite these shortcomings, the Passat is slowly growing on me. The team were absolutely right, though; this is, in many ways, the perfect car for Dubai. After a Ferrari, of course.

  • Driven by James
  • Start mileage 1,995km
  • Recent cost Fuel
  • Average fuel economy 7.1 litres-per-100km
  • Highs Huge interior, large boot, good all-round visibility
  • Lows Heavy steering

The progress

Week 5

The brakes are 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.
Highs Quiet, comfortable ride, spacious cabin.
Lows Steering a bit too heavy at low speeds.

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?  

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