Driving Impressions: 2018 Passat 2.0T SE w/ TechnologyBy: Mark Moskowitz MD
Forget the first 10 minutes of your Passat encounter. The transport seems spectacularly unspectacular. Blinding acceleration, fierce cornering, an amazing display of interior finishes and technology, cutting edge styling – not part of the experience.
Live with the car a while and its virtues become apparent.
Styling has been evolutionary since 1996 when the B5 was launched in Germany. The present version is the B8. There's subtle side sculpturing and a minimalist side spoiler which I suspect will never help downforce. A rear chrome strip traverses the taillights and gives definition and provides transition. I'd like to report that it's somewhat reminiscent of a BMW 2002 but I seem to be the only one who sees it. Upper and lower front grilles are the present flavor. The car has the stance and the scale to let us know it's more than a compact; it's attractive but not exciting.
Entry is easy and the seat is first time comfortable. It makes no pretenses of being fashioned for racing; big side bolsters are not necessary.
There's an ease to driving the Passat. Wheel around a parking lot: adjustments are effortless, acceleration is smooth and the steering precise. The characteristics persist at city and interstate speeds. The Passat corners predictably. It's stable and absorbs the bumps without a shudder. Up or down shifting is buttery smooth. The floor mounted lever can be used to move the Passat through all six speeds or to change the performance mode.
Even in Sport Mode which affects acceleration, shift points and steering, the resistance added to the wheel (often unnecessarily in other sport sedans) is not excessive. Push the car hard in a turn, there's body roll aplenty. Despite a performance mode, this is not a performance car. Acceleration figures support the premise. Off the line, 60 mph arrives after 8.1 seconds.* There's a pleasant snarl under full power and the Passat seems a bit faster than the figure suggests especially once the vehicle is underway; I found no difficulty merging onto a 70mph expressway or passing on a country road.
The Passat interior is 2018 conventional. It appeared spacious and a bit luxurious in Moonrock Gray (almost white) with a dark wood dashboard accent. Once ensconced, I found plenty of head and foot room front and back. The generous rear foot space is enhanced by the high mounted bucket which allows one's feet to be easily placed below the front seat.
The standard glovebox, console box and in door storage is supplemented with a driver's side in dash compartment, separate key fob recess and a forward space which fits the largest phone (though it does not rest flat).
In its position, the 6.3 inches the touchscreen is adequate not generous; I would like to see it bigger or above the vents rather than beneath. One's eyes need not stray so far from the windshield. Voice navigation was initially frustrating; either I adapted to it or it adapted to me and I could voice no further complaints.
Radio adjustment was straightforward and augmented by gesture control – lots of fun. The manual or button reset for the odometer is a laudable throwback feature. Seats are heated-front and rear. The steering wheel is wrapped in real leather and I have no problems with VW's faux leather (advanced vinyl) V-Tex. Dual zone climate control with console mounted rear vents is one more feature of a very comfortable interior.
The model designation 'w/ Technology' is neither exaggeration nor misnomer. Adaptive Cruise Control, front and rear Park Distance Control, Forward Collision Warning with Autonomous Emergency Braking, Blind Spot Monitor and Rear Cross Traffic Alert come standard.
A few more conveniences are a sunroof which opens in increments, rear seat pass through and a large trunk which opens with a 'foot gesture'. Coolant reservoir, windshield washer fluid, and dipstick are closely grouped and in easy reach. Should one need to access the spare, the floor tilts upward and can be held there with a body mounted latch – a thoughtful method of freeing up an extremity or a cerebral appendage.
The Passat seems the product of a thoughtful evolution. It's favorably priced in its segment and Volkswagen stands behind it with a 6 year or 72000 mile warranty. It's comfortable to live with in town or on the longer commute. I recommend it.