The new Volkswagen Passat has just gone on sale with an entry level Trendline saloon price of €27,295 (or €29,225 for the estate version ) for the 1.4-litre 125bhp TSI petrol model, writes Padraic Deane.
The big selling diesel range starts at €28,940 for the now more powerful 1.6-litre 120bhp TDI Trendline version, while the biggest seller, the 1.6 TDi Comfortline version, is priced at €30,815.
The Passat is now the longest continuous model in the Volkswagen range, and its attraction is lasting exceptionally well. Last year, what was the old model Passat was still the best seller in the segment in Ireland and now Volkswagen expects the eighth-generation Passat to stay at the top.
It boasts a new design, new engines and new technologies. The new model has a more premium look and a more aggressive stance, but as is the Volkswagen way with the likes of the Golf and Passat, they remain instantly recognisable. It has a longer wheelbase but is just marginally longer overall. Inside, it is built more around the driver with more leg and headroom.
Petrol engines are reintroduced to the range with popularity growing in line with the rising new car market in Dublin and large urban areas. There is a choice of two petrol and three diesel engines across the range for the new Passat. The 1.4-litre 125bhp TSI petrol is joined by a 1.4-litre 150 TSI which employs Volkswagen’s active cylinder technology, shutting off two of the engine’s four-cylinders when not required, which has a significant fuel-saving effect. This starts at €35,145 in Highline trim.
The diesel engine line up consists of the 1.6-litre TDI in 120bhp (106g/km/Tax Band A3 ), a 2.0-litre TDI with 150bhp (108g/km/Tax Band A3 ), and a 2.0-litre TDI with 190bhp (106g/km /Tax Band A3 ).
There are three trim grades in the new Passat, Trendline, Comfortline (which should account for two out of three sold ) and Highline with some top class features and options and technologies across the range. The ‘Trendline' features air conditioning, a 5-inch touch screen infotainment system, Bluetooth, an electric parking brake, front assist including city emergency brake, leather steering wheel, and keyless engine start system ‘Keyless Go’.
The Comfortline adds 16-inch ‘Sepang’ alloy wheels, a 6.5-inch touch screen infotainment system, park distance control front and rear, cruise control, a leather multi-function steering wheel, Climatronic 3-zone automatic air conditioning, front fog lights, an interior ambient lighting package, and rain sensing wipers.
The top of the range Highline adds 17-inch ‘London’ alloy wheels, adaptive cruise control, comfort seats in Alcantara / leather, heated front seats, electrically folding exterior mirrors, rear tinted windows, interior ambient lighting package ‘Plus’, dark red tail-lights with LED technology, and an interior chrome trim.
Volkswagen says the new model has a better "specification adjusted price", which in layman’s terms basically means the price may be higher than the outgoing model, but the new model has higher specification. The cars we drove were all in Highline spec and had excellent build quality. On secondary roads and on motorways, all versions delivered a high standard of performance, handling and ride comfort.
Commenting on the arrival of the new car, Volkswagen Ireland’s operations director Paul Burke described it as "hugely important car to us", second only to the Golf in terms of volume.
"The new model is a real step-up in terms of quality and refinement. This is now a car that will compete head-on with more expensive executive offerings.”
The next Passat CC will arrive towards the end 2016, with an AWD Passat Alltrack by next January (2016 ). There should also be a plug-in hybrid on the way. Meanwhile, the mainline new Passat saloon (which accounts for up to 90 per cent of sales ) and estate versions will continue to be popular with Irish new family size car buyers. It will be interesting to see how it goes against competitors, such as the just arrived new Ford Mondeo and the updated Toyota Avensis due here mid-year.