Smooth, powerful, but with a question mark on the quality
Just after purchasing the car, I noticed that when pulling away, the clutch pedal was beginning to judder. I had the same problem at 90k miles on my previous car, a 2005 Octavia 1.9TDi & it had turned out to be the flywheel. I took the car back to VW & lo & behold, it was the flywheel which had failed at 23k miles. It was replaced under warranty along with the clutch. A bit disappointing at such a low mileage.
The electronic parking brake began to refuse to release/engage intermittently, again, replaced under warranty by VW.
The car is an excellent family car & motorway cruiser, it feels composed at very high speed and doesn't feel it's trying at all. There is noticeable turbo lag, more so than on my previous 1.9 engined Skoda, the Passat takes off well, but there is an obvious hesitation there.
The fuel economy isn't as good as expected, but is by no means terrible. I was told by the salesman when buying the car that it was a £50 fill up (maybe so if still a quarter full) but if I fill from empty, it's the best part of £70. I get between 580-700 miles on a tank. On a motorway at a gentle cruise, I'll get 55mpg according to the car, 35mpg door to door and around 44mpg average. The car is very smooth, sleek and classy, I like the car's discrete looks too.
One thing that I have noticed is that the gear shift is a longer throw than in the Skoda. It feels like it takes longer to change gear.
The car is comfortable & the seats in the Sport model are very good, the interior plastics are generally good, but in certain areas aren't as good as expected, and at points, surprisingly, fall below the level in my Skoda.
The handling is excellent, especially for such a large, front wheel drive car. I've had 22 cars at last count, a number of them BMW's and although the Passat isn't as good as those as far as handling is concerned, I have been impressed in its ability to blend a mix of good motorway manners, then not show itself up when you hit a country road. You can feel the bumps slightly more than on the SE model due to the Sports larger wheels & sport suspension.
Boot space is excellent, enough space for a child's push chair, all the gear to go with a baby, and a large suitcase and holdall for a week away. The space inside the cabin is ample too.
The dealer has always provided first class service too, they're always efficient, polite and can arrange the car to be in at very short notice. The long life service that I've just had done came to £185, including the brake fluid & the air con was serviced and re filled (free of charge).
The electronic parking brake did initially fail, but has since been replaced and the software updated. I still don't trust it & always leave it in gear.
The air conditioned glove box comes in very handy and there are lots of cubby holes around the cabin, although the sunglasses holder is not very big & can be difficult to put glasses in there, especially on the move. The standard tinted rear glass is great to reduce the glare in the rear, something appreciated when there's a baby in the back.
Generally I'm happy with the car, it's quick enough top end & acceleration and with plenty of space. I'm just not sure if the generally quality is where it should be for a premium brand, it did cost £22k new with the options on after all. Is it a better buy than the Skoda? It is certainly bigger and has a better image, but only time will tell.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 21st October, 2009