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.

1990 Volkswagen Passat GL 1.8 from North America


Nice for hauling, but not reliable


Had the transmission fluid changed in which the mechanic found pieces of metal that fell into the pan.

Entire exhaust system replaced due to rotting. Cost over $600.

Transmission electronics failed. Replacement cost $300.

General Comments:

I am a college musician and purchased this car (wagon) with the intent of hauling percussion equipment. For this purpose, it served me well. However, I cannot trust it enough to do any serious traveling. From what I've heard, the transmission will probably go soon, which is a real bummer.

The car is very attractive.

Very weak performance.

Feels good on the highway.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 19th January, 2004