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VW Passat driven and tested: Well-equipped and practical! By HT Brunch columnist Hormazd Sorabjee

Solid and safe, the VW Passat is so worth the high price

brunch Updated: Dec 01, 2018 23:02 IST
Hormazd Sorabjee
Hormazd Sorabjee
Hindustan Times
The Passat is an outstanding cruiser and feels wonderfully tied down at expressway speeds

Mumbai-Mahabaleshwar-Mumbai-Pune-Lonavala and a bit of running around in each town, on one tank of diesel. Or, 900km without popping the electrically-operated fuel filler flap. That’s what the Volkswagen Passat 2.0 TDI diesel comfortably gave me. With gentler driving, I could have easily crossed the 1,000km mark on a single tank, which would have been a record of sorts, but a drive that involves Mahabaleshwar can never be done with a light foot!

Fresh as the mountain air

My first date with any car is a customary weekend with it in Mahabaleshwar. It’s my way of getting to know a car intimately. So I was happy to discover that like a good weekend guest, the Passat didn’t trouble me with a drinking problem. The fuel gauge needle dropped by only a quarter after the 280km drive to Mahabaleshwar and put my biggest worry to rest – refueling at the hill station. The one thing I hate doing in Mahabaleshwar (even more than going for long walks) is tanking up. There are only two fuel pumps in the entire hill station and that invariably means having to wait in long queues to fill up, especially when this small town is overwhelmed with tourist traffic.

The Passat’s huge reserve of fuel set the tone for the car’s astonishing practicality that is best appreciated on a long drive. The massive 586 litre boot came in handy and swallowed all our bags and more.

The two-litre diesel engine has a characteristic gruffness

It’s also on a long drive that I discover how comfy the seats really are and I can safely say the Passat’s are the best I’ve experienced by any standard. The true test of a good seat is if someone like me with an age-old back injury can emerge after a four to five hour drive without aches or twinges. I felt as fresh as the mountain air after reaching Mahabaleshwar thanks to a seat design that is pretty much faultless.

The Passat is a well-equipped sedan that comes with a high level of quality and safety

I didn’t spend much time in the back seat as I was enjoying the easy nature of the Passat from behind the wheel, but judging by the way my fellow passengers nodded off, it’s safe to assume that it’s also a comfy place to be.

Bumps, thumps, but stability

The two-litre diesel engine has a characteristic gruffness, which tells you in no uncertain terms it’s a diesel. However, whilst cruising, the engine is pretty quiet and on the Mumbai-Pune expressway the engine note is drowned by the road noise generated by the coarse concrete surface.

The Passat is an outstanding cruiser and feels wonderfully tied down at expressway speeds. In fact, the Passat’s solid build, nine airbags and the overall feeling of safety you get at speed is hugely comforting. It’s a car you’ll want to travel in with your loved ones for this very reason.

The Passat’s automatic gearbox glides from one ratio to another and nicely smoothens out the spikey power delivery this engine is known for. But the momentary hesitation when you slam your foot down is still there.

The Passat’s seats are super comfy

This delay or gearbox lag was most worrisome on the last 40km before Mahabaleshwar. It’s a single lane road and around 30km are up in the hills where you want an instant response when you flex your right foot to overtake. In such instances it’s best to go manual and use the nicely crafted paddle shifters, which give you more control of the engine.

The Passat’s ride quality is pretty good too, and it soaks up patchy surfaces with a gentle lope, but it’s not perfect. Ruts, ripples and sharp edges clunk quite audibly through the cabin and hence broken roads need to be treated with caution.

Overall the Passat has been an utterly dependable long companion and a pretty economical one at that returning an impressive 15kpl.

It’s a well-equipped sedan that comes with a high level of quality and safety. The hitch is that it all comes for a price (Rs 32.99 lakh ex-showroom, Delhi). A price not too far from luxury brands, which have far more snob value. And for status-conscious Indians that’s what really matters.

Hormazd Sorabjee is one of the most senior and much loved auto journalists in India, and is editor of Autocar India

Sunday Drive appears every fortnight

From HT Brunch, December 2, 2018

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First Published: Dec 01, 2018 21:20 IST