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The first thing you will notice as you enter the cabin is how much space there is compared to other estates and saloons. The headroom in both the front and the back is suitable for someone upto 6ft 7 inches. 4 persons can sit in the car comfortably, 5 can be done but the person in the middle at the back may feel a little uncomfortable. The spacious cabin also extends to the boot which can fit 3-4 large suitcases. From a practical point of view it scores very highly due to generous diemensions of the car.
Economy wise in real life you can obtain 60 mpg on a long motorway route, 45-50 on A roads and 30-35 on B roads. Whilst technology as advanced a little further now these are still very commendable figures considering the age of this model as well as a 1.9 engine and 130 bhp. It is an excellent balance of power and engine size and can accelerate up ascents that other less powerful cars would not be capable of.
The interior has lasted well with no wear and tear noticable. The paint work has suffered from some minor sunning and a little rust. The SE trim could be better equiped, though with the climate control and 6 disc changer extra option the car does feel more like an SE. Though the in board computer is an interesting and informative facility. When these cars were manufactured it was early days for satelite navigation technologies.
One disadvantage of this car is that VW dealership servicing can be expensive. There is often a long list of advisories. Sometimes servicing and MOT bills can reach thousands of pounds.Selected parts are subject to a price match scheme with other local garages. Sometimes they can let you hire a rental car for free if the bill is particularly large. Customer service is variable with some agents who are keen not to deliver the car to the house and another shouting just say yes in the background! Usually the car is cleaned prior to recieving it after the service.
The Passat has always had a nice look to it but with VW's new corporate front end it looks a more handsome beast than ever before, we went for the standard colours as paying extra for paint seems idiotic to me. Chose the red as i'd seen it look good on golfs and it really sets the Passat off well and makes it stand out from the silver grey herd.
The Bluemotion is VW's eco range so has stop start technology (you can turn it off) which can be a bit disconcerting if you are not used to it. I don't know if its to do with this but low speed stalling seems to happen quite a bit, mind you all you have to do to restart is push in the clutch.
We've got the 2 litre sport Bluemotion and its averaged 50 odd mpg on runs.
Now the important bit you've all been waiting for...... does it drive like an eco diesel?????
No it doesn't it drives like a very good car
We specced up our car a bit (as its the company paying not us) So had the fancy in car satnav stereo combo with the ipod gubbinsry. its a good system but the satnav is not as configurable as some i've used so can take you some odd routes. however it does have all of europe on it.
We also had the big glass sunroof option which is apparently great if you are in the back but not really noticeably different up front.
35000 miles in 11 months , its been a great car with only a couple of issues, its on the very end of its second set of new front boots and the tyre sensor has played up along with the central locking when I power washed the car a bit too vigorously.
The biggest gripe has to be reserved for the Dealership, the blokes in the overalls seem great and know their cars really well, however you can't speak to them without going through a lying (yes we'll ring you when its in/done) phone monkey who's job seems to be to annoy and frustrate at very turn.
Make sure your local dealership is good and you'll love the Passat
So before I begin what will almost certain be quite a long rant I had better let you know that I worship in the church of VW. Admittedly I do not accept the ones with engines in the front, and there is quite a gap in the VW museum from 1938 until 1945, but all that aside, VW were one of the greatest innovators in the car industry. I say were in the past tense as the VW Audi Seat Skoda soup which makes up the modern VW group seems to make similar cars which have varying versions of adequacy.
And if you are one of those that think that Clarkson is relevant , and that 0-60 really matters , then maybe you had better just take yourself and your Daily Mail off to your sky plus enabled TV and watch reruns of Top Gear until snow is a memory and the last Polar Bear drowns. Or maybe you are interested in the torque settings on the overdrive polarity interface , again probably not the review for you , why not try www.vw/boringdatathatstrangeuncleslike.com. This is really about owning VW Passat , its rather like getting your partners ex-boyfriends to sit you down and tell you all about the things she will not do , and the fact that she has 3 nipples ( one of them hairy ) and that when she says she had a few brushes with the Police , she actually means 3 counts of GBH , 2 intent to supply and a serious firearms offence.
So lets get the good things out the way first ; nothing has actually snapped of yet, no bend pedals,no jammed cd's and no squeaks or rattles(apart from the engine) and the cup holders. Those of you who have read my review on the Audi A4 will know that I like cup holders, and particularly more than one , and of a quality which will hold your Soya Lata with a sprinkle of nutmeg and 1.5 sugars . So the Passat has one really strong on in the dash , 2 in the massive centre console , 2 in the back and in the doors 2 holders for 2 litre water bottles. So whilst we are on a theme lets get the inside of the car done over first.
The room inside is excellent, so in the front and for rear seat passengers. The seats are comfortable, they seem to be adjustable in just about every direction , they do exactly what seats do, which is provide a excellent alternative to standing. So on first view the Passat estate is a really large drinks holder.
So lets start with the looks ....its boring, and its an estate . Vw try with a bit of mock chrome at the front , but it really is a very tired and boring looking shape. If you ever buy one you need to get some stickers in it quick , if you don't then you could be wandering around Sainsburies along with all the sales people, part time funeral directors and geography teachers looking for your Passat , it does not just look like other modern passats , it looks like passats from the last 20 years, and worse still like the Skoda's, Audis and BMW's and every other manufactures that knock out these identikit CAD designed boxes . So it's boring to look at, but that's a subjective opinion and some people like the anonymity of the design
So on to the interior , i have already mentioned the excellent cup holder to person ratio ( there is also one in the back but that snapped off when our 3 year jammed a Teddy in the cup hole) . The boot is "trip to Ikea huge" it's big enough for a fat lad to sleep in when there tent leaks on a I'll advised camping trip to Wales ( it was in-between camper vans, so after the air-cooled and before the t25. 1.6 tdi, i told you I loved them ). There is a really poor boot cover venetian, and quite often when you pull it over your ikea furniture, or valuable it opens when you are driving, and makes quite a clunk. I have given using it as i rarely ever go up North, so the chances of the car being robbed are quite low. There is also a kind of second boot over the spare wheel , which is really useful for dirty walking boots , dirty clothes or flat bread storage. The boot also has a 12v supply which is handy for popping a freezer box in or if you were ever abducted , then forced in to the boot and needed charge your mobile or maybe play your gameboy. I have gone on about the boot for a while, and thats because its a really good feature, and its not hard to shine in such a pile of magnolia , the boot really is the highpoint of the car. So onwards to the rear of the car , where agin you find seats which again offer a good alternative to standing, but not quite as comfortably. Rear leg room is excellent ,and is again a useful 12v supply and vents for the rear seat passengers, a large arm rest site in the middle, and apart from holding Coffee or bear fur it's pretty rubbish.It opens up to revel a a compartment which is only really good for holding very small books, and the not many of them.
So now to the driver and passenger area , ,which continues in the same dull style , more black plastic with crappy silver edging , it all works , and its all Ok , but nothing sparkles as being a great bit of design. The driving position is ok, the comfort is adequate, and the various cubby holes are ok. The stereo is fine, but again no longwave so unless you want to spend £700 on the dab version there will be no test match special, and as ever on this version there is no Ipod connector ( later versions have a jack plug, but it's not very good as it's in the central box thing that sits in-between you on the front seat passenger , and reminds you the days when this was there as a way of hiding the transmission tunnel. )
All the controls feel positive, the cruise control is excellent,and all the knobs and things to push are positive and feel like they will last a while. All the human control interfaces are just dandy, but all of this adequacy is ruined by one massive horrible feature which will stop me ever wanting one again....
The electronic hand break.
When humans find the perfect design it may change shape of the generations, and sometimes we find a new way of doing something fundamental, a good example of this would be the Mousetrap, the can opener and of course the hand break . You stop your car, and you pull on the hand break, it's been this way for years , its works , it's safe , it's reliable , it's a bit of throwback and yes its and mechanical.So VW decide that they will put a switch in the dash , next the vents , and then have a complex system of having to push various pedals before you can pull away. This is then made worse by the fact that if you are on a incline, then you can pull away without actually pressing the button. Its confusing, and then the switch start sot malfunction (mine and a colleagues) and it does not come on when you press the button. Its such a great system that NO other VW's that i borrow have them in. Its the single biggest reason i want rid of this(and missing test match special on LW) boring example of adequacy.
So as well as the hand break button failure what else has gone wrong 80 000 in 2.5 years. Well the engine fell out ! All the mountings snapped and the engine twisted in the engine bay causing some 2.5 k's worth of damage .It was of course covered under warranty, but in my head the engine and gearbox repairs have make the car that little bit noisier. Then at 95K the clutch failed, this led to a gearbox fault at 100K . The repair went badly and at 114k the gearbox failed again. I am counting the days until the heap gets dragged away to be a unreliale taxi in Birmingham.
MPG is a good 45-50 , acceleration is fine as is the general ride and handling of Aslam ( we call it that as it's like a wardroom on wheels ) .
So on reflection this car is adequate, in a age when for 22k you expect a lot more than adequacy. Would i buy one myself NO , would i recommend you buy one NO , not unless you want to do funerals at the weekend , and if that engine had fallen out whilst on the motorway it may be your own.
ust as a added the note , out of my colleagues mine has been the most reliable, with Turbos and wheel bearings being the biggest failure on the list thus far.
I've had a few Passats over the years, preferring the estate versions because there is so much more room inside. Where I really find that they come into their own is the room available for the rear seat occupants. Here, it is almost like VW have cut the car in half right behind the driver's seat and then added an additional 6" wide bung into the car and welded it all back up again. The result is that there is a lot of legroom for the rear seat occupants, even when the front seat people have their seats fully back and you can easily get 3 adults abreast across the back seat.
So looking at this particular model, I have a 2004 diesel VW Passat 1.9 TDI 130. Having previously only had the 110 bhp versions, I was quite shocked to note how much of a power difference the extra 20 bhp made to this 130 bhp model - fast and responsive with good acceleration throughout the range. Economy wise you do take a hit. Whereas with the 110 versions I easily could get well over 50 mpg, the 130 version would get me into the high 40s, and possibly just over 50 mpg on a long run if I was gentle. But still, very good for such a large car.
Interior wise I've got a full leather fit, the first time I've ever had this from VW and I've got to admit that the quality is good and the finish is excellent. Comfortable and practical, the car is a joy to drive over long distances and for long durations.
Fittings wise the stereo and combined 6 CD player give a great sound quality. Easy and logical operational control with an 8 speaker sound system means it will satisfy the most demanding of music connoisseurs. The car also has air conditioning which seems to have little impact on the overall fuel economy. I know at times in the coldest setting, I've had to turn it up because it got a little too cold for me and at the other end of the scale it will quickly warm the entire cabin area.
Controls are all within easy reach of the driver and there are loads of pockets and storage spaces around the car for someone to put their little trinkets etc. In addition, it also has the computer display which will give the mpg, journey time thus far etc and more importantly how many miles you have remaining in your fuel tank - particularly important when you have run low on fuel, which normally gives you about a 50 mile range when the low level light comes on.
OK, to balance, what are the negative points? A minor point but the computer LED display sits between the clocks and is a red display, whilst the lighting for the clocks etc and all the dials and controls is in blue. Slight colour clash for what is a classy and well laid out display. The drinks holder for 2 drinks for the front seat occupants now sits by the handbrake lever between the seats. Not a bad position, but when you have the armrest as I have with the top panel slid forward, it kind of blocks the rearmost of these 2 drinks holder. Again, a minor issue, but can be annoying. When you fold the rear seats down, you have to remove each of the 3 rear headrests in order to fold the seats flat. Equally, with the rear seats flat, you can't put the front seats fully back.
Finally, servicing costs. Well it is a VW and they are not particularly cheap. Mine has been set up for the long life service meaning about 20k miles between servicings, so it has saved me some money. But when you are paying something like £90+ just for an oil change, it can get very expensive.
But overall, VWs are very reliable and so far I've not really had any problems with it after 100k miles. They are designed to be load luggers and the cavernous estate will swallow up massive loads, particularly if you fold the rear seats down, and you also have the standard roof rails on top should you require more storage space.
In summary, the Passat is a great roomy family car. Plenty of space for passengers and load lugging and gives excellent mpg in return.