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Earlier this year myself and my partner decided a bigger vehicle was needed due to the imminent arrival of our first born. Having looked around on a limited budget we decided that the Passat offered us the best level of comfort, space and luxury for our money. That was around six months ago and having had the benefit of hindsight would I still buy this car? That's a tough one but I would have to go with no. Let me just highlight this car's advantages before I come to the reason why I would not buy this vehicle if I had my time over. The level of comfort and luxury is astounding for those on a budget, the climate control is truly excellent, the stereo is magnificent with dedicated tweeters, woofers and mid range speakers, there are plenty of cubby holes to store all your detritus (trust me, with a baby, that is a very good thing!). It even has the capacity to use the air con to keep the glove box cool and by extension, anything you place in there. The boot is the largest I have ever had on a saloon and includes metal hooks to secure items, a place for a first aid box and even a 12v electrical point. The pram and all the assorted baby stuff fits in there easily, even when we need to also have a suitcase for us (the parents). The ride quality is excellent, this car seems to whoosh along and is a joy on long motorway journeys. It's not sporty by any means but if you want sporty, don't buy a big saloon car. It also has an impressive level of sound proofing which keeps out the vast majority of noise (I will detail later why I know how good the sound proofing is!). This car really is tight as a drum and extremely reliable. Adding up to be a great vehicle, don't you think? Believe me, if I could end the review here I would have to say it is one of the best vehicles I have ever owned but unfortunately we now come to the crux of the problem. A problem know all to well by owners of Passat's built around and just after the turn of the century: Water Ingress. In other words, it leaks like a sieve. But you won't notice, not at first. Remember how good the sound proofing is? Well the carpets will soak up all that water until it gets to a ridiculous level (at least two inches!). Then and only then will you realise that all is not right. This problem can be down to a number of things including: Grommets under battery getting clogged, Air filter not sitting right, Sun Roof and door seals amongst other things. I have had all these things checked and corrected (not sun roof, don't have one!) and I am fairly sure it is still leaking, albeit at a much reduced rate. This in itself would not be the end of the world if Volkswagen had not, in their infinite wisdom, decided to place the brains for the main electronics in the car, under the passenger seat. This can lead to an extremely large bill, of at least £1000. Also, because the sound proofing is so excellent, the only way to dry the vehicle completely after such an episode of water ingress is to remove the carpet in its entirety and either dry it out (labour intensive and expensive) or to replace it completely (extremely expensive, I had a quote of £800!). It's a shame because I desperately want to love this car, in all other area's it is excellent but for this one, great big fault. My advice would have to be that if you want a Passat, save your pennies and buy a facelift model as I am reliably informed that the fault has been addressed in these models.
I loved this car from the first moment I saw it. I test drove the Turbo Diesel version and was stunned by its performance. Unfortunately there was a long waiting list so I had to be patient. That was three years ago. As it happened our leasing company had a special offer. I could have the 20V Sports version instead of the bog-standard one. They were trying to introduce them into the country at that time and wanted people to get the sporty versions out on the road. I'm a company car driver so I need a car that is reliable and effortless to drive. I do a high business mileage and with customers all over the country I need to be sure I'm going to get to my appointments on time and fresh for the meeting. Three years later, what is my opinion now? Well, for Volkswagen there's good news and there's bad news. Firstly, the good news. Speaking as a driver, this car is without a shadow of a doubt one of the best cars I have ever driven. I looked at quite a few before choosing the Passat. The BMW 3 Series was simply too small. I have quite long legs and with the driver's seat in a comfortable position for me, no one can sit behind me. Same problem with the Audi A4. Absolutely no problems like that with the Passat. The Passat is the first car I have had with Air-con. Now I wouldn't be without it. I love driving with the windows down in good weather but when it gets just too hot (as it was in the South of France this year when we were on holiday) it's great just to be able to shut the windows and crank up the air-con and just sit there watching everyone else sweat. The performance is superb. Remember, this is a non-turbo version but the 5 valves per cylinder performance is outstanding. And this is not at the sacrifice of petrol consumption. I get a regular 33-34 mpg overall. And I'm renowned for having a lead foot. Handling is stunning. For such a big car, corners are no problem at all. Change down, tuck in, foot down and it goes round like it's on rails. Even the ABS performs well, although I'm not a fan of the system. So, you are probably asking, what's the bad news. Well, firstly I answered as a driver. Now I must answer as an "owner". The Passat is without any shadow of a doubt the worst car I have ever had. It has spent almost as much time in the garage as on the road. No, I am exagerating there, but it seems like it. Day 3, one front headlamp bulb blew, not a good omen. Since then I've had the front suspension develop a disturbing rattle over uneven ground. They've never fixed it despite several attempts. I just hope I get rid of it before it falls apart! The lumbar support in the drivers seat collapsed. I suffer from a bad back so this was a disaster. It took them over three months to get a replacement seat back from Germany. That was just about the most uncomfortable 3 months driving I've had. The windscreen cracked. This was not a stone strike damage. It just came in from the side and spread across the screen. The weirdest one was the day the key jammed itself in the drivers door lock. It wouldn't turn, it wouldn't come out. I had to get in the passenger side. Obviously I couldn't drive it with the key sticking out the side of the car. It was in the garage six weeks before they got a replacement lock and key from Germany. This year the air-con failed. This required a complete replacement of all of the gubbins behind the dash. This was a 3 day job. They managed to finish it just before we went to France, thank God. So, the Passat is a real Jekyll and Hyde car. Would I have another one? Sadly I have to say No. I would dearly, dearly love to be able to say yes but I can't. If I had bought the car myself with just a one year warranty I would have been tearing my hair ( what's left of it) out. I leave you to judge. But be warned.