1992 Volkswagen Passat CL 1.8 petrol

Summary:

Tough reliable car, if a little dull

Faults:

Alternator + power steering pump at 110,000 miles.

Timing belt changed at 80,000 when I got the car as precaution.

Suspension mounts front and back at various MOT tests.

Exhaust rear box fell off - quickly and cheaply replaced.

Indicator relay switch replaced. That was about it, plus general maintenance.

General Comments:

A big step up in comfort compared to my previous Ford Escort, this large family VW Passat was better appealing in almost every way apart from the fact it was rather dull to look at. If I'm being really picky, it was only that strange plastic grille at the front that made it duller than it actually was - from the side and back I thought it was a pretty decent looking car, but being the basic CL model it did not have body colour bumpers and those faded to grey as it got older, making it look duller as well. I decided to add alloy wheels that really made it much better.

The 1.8 petrol is a great all rounder with acceptable acceleration and mid range torque, and if you drive carefully enough you could get close to 40 MPG. 5 speed gear box was very tight and fun to use with a nicely weighted clutch. No drivers car, but better than I expected, plus general ride and handling were good. Go for the VR6 if you want a fast car that's fun to drive, or maybe the 2.0 would be a safe bet.

Interior was nice to be in; again though I'd say it was dull, black and grey plastic everywhere, but it was logically laid out and very comfortable, with good vision all round.

The 5 years I owned the car it proved reliable and reasonable costs to run, apart from that power steering pump, that was the only expensive part. To be fair it was already 8 years old with 80K on it when I bought it. Looking back I wouldn't mind another, it was generally more reliable than a lot of modern cars I've had since.

But back in 2005 financial circumstances dictated to me it was time to move on, so when it was 13 years old with 140K on it, I sold it to a family member who said he "ran it into the ground" - drove it hard and did not bother servicing it and scrapped it a couple of years later. It was a tough car I guess.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 17th August, 2017

1992 Volkswagen Passat CL 2.0 petrol

Summary:

Better than the dull reputation suggests

Faults:

Thermostat and housing - cheap easy fix.

Coolant leak, around the same attaching hose where the thermostat was. Must be a common problem, but fixed easily and cheaply.

Noisy wheel bearing, but at over 100,000 miles at the time, I'm putting this to wear and tear (I corner too fast as well which didn't help).

Oh and the rear window winders broke. Don't let your kids mess about in the back of the car in the dead of winter. They have not learned about how frost sticks things together and that's why the windows won't open no matter how hard you wind them!

General Comments:

A car I bought at nearly 10 years old with already some mileage on it, it was average looking in condition and I took a chance on it. The 4 years I ran the car it proved to be a good choice, minor problems and maintenance aside.

A popular sight on the road in the UK throughout the 90s and early 2000s, however never as popular a car as similar rivals. Shame really, it was a cut above in my opinion. Maybe not up there with BMW or Audi for quality at the time, but damn near close, the interior fit and finish was very solid.

The 2.0 engine gave good acceleration. I believe it was the same engine used in the Golf GTi at the time, at least the 8 valve version, but I could be wrong. Averaged nearly 40 MPG on a long run, can't say fairer than that for an older petrol engine.

The CL model lacks electrics, but it did have a trip computer that was surprisingly accurate. Seats were very comfortable and plush for such a low spec car, but I'd have preferred the later GL models or even better a GT for the sake of more performance and some options. Mine was red in colour, which faded in the last couple of years of its life (especially the plastic front grille); still looked decent enough with aftermarket alloy wheels I fitted, with quality tyres that made it grip better, despite a lot of body roll in corners, but a typical predictable front wheel drive car at the end of the day.

In conclusion I believe the 1990s Passat to be where VW got a good reputation for reliability along with the Golf model from the same era. This car was tough and I ran it to very high mileage before I sold it for scrap, regrettably, only because at 14 years old and a lot of mileage on it, I moved on to the newer shaped Passats that were introduced in 1996, since had a couple of them, also good cars, but for some reason I still miss this early 90s Passat.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 3rd November, 2016