1990 Volkswagen Passat GL 1.8 petrol from UK and Ireland


Loved it


Oil pump, coolant leak, new light switch, very minor rust spots, plus general wear and tear that I wouldn't really regard as faults like new brakes and so on, plus a timing belt change and regular oil changes.

General Comments:

Excellent all round car and one of my first I remember very well and left a good impression on me and influenced future cars I would buy, that generally being larger family/executive saloons and so on.

This isn't going to be one of those reviews that raves about how good older cars were and how newer ones are not as good - If I were to drive this car again, it would undoubtedly feel dated in 2016, however looking back it was very good for its time - nice interior quality feel, adequate acceleration and economy (38MPG+), and a very refined ride and handling. Interior was also very roomy for me at nearly 6 foot tall, and being a GL model, it had enough options, most things were electric.

What I don't get is why this was not a more popular car in the UK when they were new - it was better than similar rivals at the time in my opinion. Not a VW fan boy, just a general observation. Driven a few Ford Sierras and Vauxhall Cavaliers (good cars), but the Passat was slightly better at the time I would say, and was priced similarly.

As I said, of course new cars have come a long way in over 25 years, but I find it interesting to note that at 15 years old and with 160,000 miles on it, it was scrapped only due to being low in value and needing too much work to justify the cost. It was serviced on time, but I think the previous owner drove it hard and a faulty oil pump and high emissions killed it off. But over the course of time I had it, the car was very reliable and didn't break down or cause me any major headaches until the bitter end, which is more than can be said for some newer cars I've had recently.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 8th August, 2016

1990 Volkswagen Passat CL 1.8 from Bulgaria


Affordable and genuine German craftsmanship


The dash panel has cracks.

Due entirely to my fault, a year after I purchased the car, the original water pump blew off and had to be replaced.

At 200,000 km, the back shock absorbers gave way and had to be replaced.

Otherwise, nothing major has gone wrong with the car so far.

General Comments:

The Passat is now 17 years old and has no rust whatsoever.

The interior - except for the few cracked parts on the dash panel - is still in very good shape.

Since it is a station wagon, it provides with a lot of space for luggage.

The car is very reliable. On many separate occasions I have made long journeys with it - from Normandy to Istanbul. I have also driven it down dirt roads and dry river beds on a number of occasions.

I can say one thing - the car is made to last.

The only problem I find with this car are the poorly engineered door handles (a very important detail that has somehow, unknowingly how, escaped the attention of the German constructors).

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 4th February, 2008

1990 Volkswagen Passat GL 2.0 petrol from UK and Ireland


A perfect family car that will last forever


Slight water leak in offside rear door frame.

Radio needed re-coding due to flat battery.

New exhausts every 2 years or so.

Periodic replacement of batteries, tyres etc.

General Comments:

This car came as a company car and was bought outright in 1993.

The 2 litre engine had decent amounts of grunt, while being strikingly economical. The (useful) trip computer commonly indicated MPG figures of 40-45 MPG on motorway journeys.

GL trim quite 'disparate'. Included trip computer and nice seatcloth, but manual windows, no sunroof or A-C. Much better looking externally than the CL.

The passenger cabin was very comfortable for four, but 5 was rather a squeeze. The car is narrower than an Audi 100 or similar.

VW main dealers vary; our local one is rude and unhelpful. Find a specialist and you won't waste your money.

The car never left me stranded at all, travelling all over the UK and N. Europe. This contrast with other horror stories I have heard about other contemporary Passats, esp. GTs.

The solidity of Passats is wonderful. Doors and boot all closed with a good 'thunk'. Parts could be quite expensive, like ~£120 for an electric wing mirror. Hence why ours was glued together...

At time of sale (2001) the bodywork was in near-perfect condition without a hint of corrosion. It is not rare to see F-reg cars of this type looking in a brand new condition. Just compare with a similarly aged Cavalier or Sierra.

It was only sold because it was a saloon and we wanted to upgrade to an estate. It proved reasonably hard to sell; the wagons are always in higher demand. Therefore, if you want a used car bargain, a 1990 Passat saloon will do the trick. Just make sure that it has been well looked after witha good reliability record

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 6th April, 2005

6th Apr 2005, 16:16

Reading reviews like this reminds me of the difference between these "traditional" VW's and the current models.

My 2002 Passat Sport TDI 130 has just landed me with nearly £1,000 worth of repairs for an undisputable manufacturing defect at just 55,000 miles despite an impeccable service history to date. The car's warranty expired literally six weeks ago, and Volkswagen won't even discuss the matter. It's "my problem" apparently.

I had a mk2 Golf from the same era as your Passat and it felt like a grenade wouldn't disassemble it. It ran on and on as reliably as clockwork. Sadly the current models are a pale imitation, yet relative to the competition, they are probably more expensive than ever.

A great review which I do not doubt for a second, but please don't assume the current Volkswagens are anywhere near as good. They are not.

7th Apr 2005, 05:54

I have had a similar build-quality experiences with the V-reg Passat SE that replaced the reviewed car. While it is practical, comfortable and stylish, there has been a seemingly non-stop problem with the central locking mechanism on the tailgate. In addition the solenoid to unlock the petrol tank flap failed and we had to drive around running on fresh air looking for a VW dealer to mend the problem.

The ECU is apparently mounted in a low position in the car, increasing the chances of its getting waterlogged. These things are about £400 to replace; maybe this is where VW makes its money.

This is not to say the new Passats are bad cars - generally speaking it has been a great success. Just that there seems to be far more to go wrong, and far more money that must be spent to put things right.