2015 Volkswagen Passat Wolfsburg TSI - DSG 1.8 turbo from North America

Summary:

Nice highway cruisers that smell like pickles, but get good MPG

Faults:

Nothing went wrong during three rentals of three separate, identically equipped Passats, covering about 4000 miles, total. I have owned many VWs in the past and enjoy driving them, but will not own any more due to upkeep issues.

General Comments:

I rented three virtually identical 2015 Chattanooga, TN built Passats in the past several weeks. All were under 5000 miles, Wolfsburg Editions, with 1.8T engines and DSG transmissions.

The good points include - A nice, rather quiet highway ride. They got about 35 MPG at 70-80 MPH. Good power, bolstered by the low-end torque tuning of the 1.8T. The DSG gearbox performs well, once the car is rolling above 40 MPH. Roomy interior with a low dash & console for good visibility. Simple and easy to use controls for radio & HVAC. Those "silicone dampened" interior surfaces used by VW in the past are gone, in lieu of well textured hard surfaces. Lots of rust inhibitor used; the bodywork should outlast the drivetrain by a factor of 4.

The bad points - The interior of ALL three cars smelled like dill weed... maybe the imitation leather (yes, that is vinyl upholstery) is made in the same factory that makes pickles? The aforementioned vinyl interior includes a vinyl wrapped steering wheel. The A/C, on "MAX" (e.g. Recirculate) could barely keep up with northern Florida April/May heat... the A/C never felt fully dehumidified. These VWs, like all VWs made since 1993, ooze a sticky rust inhibitor out of the door's weep holes, onto the rocker panels. The DSG gearbox gives a jerky ride at low speeds and feathering the throttle for a smooth take-off is nearly impossible... at low speeds the power is all or nothing. The radio controls are so simple, not all adjustments are intuitive... such as displaying satellite radio program information. Suspension tuning is a little floaty on the highway. One of the three had quite a bit of wind noise at the right rear door, which I could not sort out.

Notable Points - Since VW "de-tuned" the 1.8T to let the Passat compete with Honda & Toyota, gone is the empty threat that use of anything other than 91 octane gas will cause damage your engine (FYI... all gasoline powered cars sold in the USA must be able to run on 87 octane, per Federal law). Also, not sure if it is a weight saving move, but the plastic front wheel well liners serve as the inner fender skins, which are usually metal, on most other cars?

In my opinion the B5 & B5.5 (Audi A4) were a better drivertrain/chassis set-up. But this new Passat is better aimed at the Camry & Accord buyer. Would I buy a 2015 Passat based on these three rentals? No.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? No

Review Date: 24th May, 2015

25th May 2015, 14:06

It's reviews like this that make me appreciate this site. I haven't heard much anything good about VW's. VW is lucky; they seem to have a loyal fanbase that will buy these cars no matter how poorly they're built or how unreliable they are.

26th May 2015, 12:50

Or how much they smell like pickles (or crayons).

28th May 2015, 22:02

I have leased two VWs since 2009 and never had one problem with either one. One a Tiguan and the other a Jetta. Both were fun to drive too.

27th Jun 2015, 10:43

I've heard that smell could be from the rubber underneath the floor carpets. As for the A/C not working properly, I never use 'recirculate' in humid hot weather.