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Volkswagen Passat Estate 2.0 TDI review (2005-2010)
Model: Volkswagen Passat 2.0 TDI SE
Engine: 2.0-litre, four cylinder, turbodiesel
Transmission: 6–speed manual
Date of Test: April 2006
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What is it?
VW’s competitor in the large family hatchback market. The last generation car introduced this segment to a new level of quality, the competition only now catching up with its benchmark interior style and upmarket feel. The new Passat builds on this, bringing a similarly impressive high quality driver’s environment combined with improved standard equipment and some fresh technology to the sector. It’s arguably more desirable in the estate guise tested here, the styling more attractive with the larger estate load area.
Where does it fit?
Originally competing with mainstream rivals like Ford’s Mondeo and the Vauxhall Vectra among others, the Passat has for a long time now been considered something of a cut above such regular models. Instead it’s perhaps better looked at as an opponent to cars like Volvos V50, the Alfa 159 and Honda’s Accord. All of these aspire to premium brand status, but aren’t quite able to offer the same cachet as cars like Audis, BMWs and Mercedes. In the VW range it’s topped by the slow-selling Phaeton which the Passat looks remarkably similar to, and beneath it is the Golf/Jetta line up.
Is it for you?
This market as a whole is in decline, due to the pressure above from those premium marques. Similarly, estate car buyers have far more choice out there for practical family transport, the multi-seat, multi-functional compact, mid and full-sized MPVs along with small off-roaders significantly eating into the conventional estate car market. However, if you’re after a smart, high quality and unfussy family transport with a huge boot and decent driving characteristics then you could do a great deal worse than VW’s Passat.
What does it do well?
Fitted here with the 140bhp, 2.0-litre turbodiesel engine, which is expected to take the majority of sales, the Passat proves to be an excellent all-rounder. The diesel engine offers plenty of power with ample low-rev urgency. The combined consumption figure of 46.3mpg should be achievable with considered driving and the refinement is good too. The interior is neat, with well laid out controls while the seating is firm and comfortable. SE trim comes with everything you could possibly want (with the exception of sat-nav). The boot is very spacious and sensibly proportioned, VW resisting the temptation to make the Passat a lifestyle machine rather than proper load-carrier. The ride is firm without being harsh, the handling surefooted. Overall the Passat delivers an accomplished all-round driving experience. Residuals should also be impressive.
What doesn't it do well?
It may be a good all-rounder but as a result it’s not exceptional in any specific area (except interior quality). Slick as the six-speed manual gearbox is, it doesn’t like to be hurried. VW has fitted an electric parking brake and makes a big fuss over it. Frankly, we’d rather see a conventional handbrake fitted as, like the push in key start, it’s a pointless and unnecessary complication of conventional, proven systems. Like all VW diesels the power is delivered in a somewhat peaky fashion, the boost very obvious when its full force arrives. The styling may be smart, but it’s rather bland against some rivals, though whether that’s a negative or not is debatable. Over £2,300 for a fitted sat-nav system today is far too much when good portable units cost only a fraction of that.
What's it like to live with?
The Passat should be a perfect day-to-day driver that, like its predecessors, should age well and still command good money second hand when you eventually come to sell it. It’s spacious enough for most families, has a very large and useful boot and is refined and stylish too. VW dealers are everywhere, the specification levels are surprisingly comprehensive across the range and it comes with the cachet of the VW badge. Overall, it’s a very desirable and practical choice, and ownership should be a highly pleasant experience.
How green is it?
As tested this 140bhp 2.0-litre TDI returns an official combined consumption figure of 46.3mpg. And that should be achievable so long as you’re not too heavy with the accelerator. CO2 emissions are 165g/km which is also very competitive for the class, the Passat estate a reasonably green machine – particularly compared to heavier and therefore more thirsty MPV and SUV alternatives.
Would we buy it?
Absolutely. The Passat does everything you ask it to do. It might not be as sharp to drive as some of its rivals, but neither can they offer the tremendous vault-like interior and overall feeling of quality. The boot is vast, equipment levels decent and the brand cachet high. Add in the Passat’s long-standing strong residual values and it makes a very convincing argument for itself over its mainstream rivals, and actually isn’t too far off premium alternatives in terms of desirability.
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