The all-new 2012 VW Passat won Motor Trend Magazine’s ‘Car of the Year’ award. They had good reason to award the new Passat the prestigious award because it is the only mid-size sedan that offers German engineering at an affordable price, a choice of three great engines, a 2.0 liter four-cylinder TDI clean diesel returning up to 43 mpg, a 2.5 liter five cylinder and a 3.6 liter VR6 cylinder engine, all mated to six-speed transmissions. The Passat also comes with exceptional comfort in back with class-leading rear-seat legroom that makes this five-seat mid-size family sedan one of the best selections a new mid-size sedan consumer can make. The trunk with a split folding 60/40 bench seat is also one of the largest in the segment.
I didn’t have the opportunity to test the all-new 2012 model but was privileged to test the new 2013 Passat in the base S trim with the Appearance Package that comes standard with the 2.5 liter five-cylinder engine mated to the six-speed automatic with sequential shifter, 16X6.5 inch alloy wheels wrapped with Continental 215/60R16 inch Conti Contac high-performance all-season radial tires, and a rear pull-down center console with dual cupholders and storage bin. The price is a very reasonable $22,945.00 for all of this plus a host of more comfort, convenient, connectivity, power, performance, safety and even several features only found on luxury sedans costing thousands of dollars more.
The exterior styling is low and wide with smooth corners that all help to keep aerodynamic drag to a minimum. The predominance of horizontal lines further enhances the low and wide stance. Up front is the VW brand’s 3-horizontal chrome blade grille with honeycomb lower air intake. Enhancing the look even further are the large headlight units forming a single unit. Down below is a splitter and flat underside to help keep the front end down and stable when traveling at high speeds on the highways.
From the side you’ll notice the swept-back windshield A-pillars and the muscular ridge in the sill area. Powerfully sculpted wheel-arches emphasize the dynamic properties of the Passat. These four wheel-arches have liners on the inside to keep noise from entering the cabin and to enhance aerodynamics. To accentuate the aerodynamic styling of the Passat, the roof lines flow toward the back with a nearly coupe-like cut of the rear window. Three side windows create luxury-class style with a long, extended glass surface. Also on the side are bodycolor pull-out door handles and aerodynamic-styled/manual folding/turn-signal repeater sideview mirrors.
The rear fascia is also dominated by horizontal lines. The lines of the large taillights rise toward the side, underscoring the dynamics of the elegant rear styling. Another unique feature here is the design of the two-part taillights that are integrated in the rear fender and trunk lid. Down below is a diffuser to help manage rear airflow to further enhance high speed stability. The all-new Passat cuts through the air with an outstanding 0.29 co-efficient of drag.
The Passat is a generously-proportioned four-door sedan perfect for any family. Nose to tail it measures 191.6 inches and featured a stretched 110.4 inch wheelbase and 72.2 inch width, which allows for such an exceptional rear-seat space.
The potent and refined 2.5 liter five-cylinder engine features a cast-iron block with aluminum heads, DOHC’s, four-valves per cylinder, chain driven with automatic tensioner, maintenance-free hydraulic lifters and variable intake timing. It produces 170hp at 5,500 rpm and 177 lb.ft. of torque at 4,250 rpm. It is mated to a smooth shifting five-speed manual or optional six-speed automatic with sequential shifting utilizing a dual-clutch that instantly engages and disengages gears without the need for a clutch pedal. With a special computer controlling the process, one clutch is engages on the next gear, while the clutch from the previous gear is released. This automatic also comes with a Sport setting that remaps the on-board computer to change gear quicker in automatic. Either way each is great for a more spirited drive when you want to speed up your heartbeat.
The Passat has been designed to feature the kind of dynamic, involved handling and precise steering that you come to expect from a Volkswagen. The new Passat may be a big car but it handles like a smaller sedan. The unique fully independent suspension features a strut-type setup with lower control arms, coil springs, telescopic dampers and anti-roll bar. The rear setup is a multi-link type with coil springs, telescopic dampers and an anti-roll bar. For a front-wheel-drive sedan the car is very neutral when cutting through curving roads. It is very well balanced and very stable at high speeds. The rack & pinion, hydraulic power-assisted steering system gives you pin-point accuracy when cornering and a great feel for the road. Standard electronic stability control and traction control keep you on track when taking the Passat to its cornering limits.
Quickly and safely slowing the Passat S down from speed are large, power-assisted four-wheel disc brakes. Up front are 12.3 inch vented discs clamped with dual-piston calipers, and 10.7 inch solid discs clamped with single-piston calipers in the rear. Control during hard braking on slick or wet surfaces is enhanced with standard ABS and electronic brake pressure distribution.
The powertrain, suspension and braking systems are definitely world-class in every way and give you and your family comfortable, easy and fun-to-drive experience whether just taking care of personal and family activities, plus plenty of room for long weekend getaways.
The Passat was designed and specifically tailored for American tastes and American lifestyles. As a result the cabin of the Passat S delivers space and plenty of it. There’s room for five adults to really stretch out in comfort and with four large wide-opening doors, getting in and out is easy. Making it even easier is the four grab handles above each door. The layout is simple yet elegant. Nothing about the interior is trendy or over-done. The lines flow in a style that’s easy on the eye, complemented by the highest quality materials applied with careful attention to detail. The easy-to-see instrument panel is similar to the VW flagship model, the Touareg. The instrument cluster features aluminum trimmed gauges with the easy-to-use trip computer readout box in the middle. Aluminum trim is also found around the air vents, center stack, stick shift bezel, rotary light switch and all of the other dials, buttons and switches. Wide aluminum colored plastic trim is found on the dashboard and doors. The parking brake handle also features an aluminum button. The front bucket seats are very comfortable and supportive with excellent thigh support. The driver’s-side adjusts eight-ways, including lumbar. The cloth trimmed seats are very high quality. The steering wheel is the perfect side and features manual tilt/telescopic for the perfect reach and angle. It also includes buttons for the audio system and Bluetooth system surrounded by aluminum trim. The center console features dual cupholders and a padded storage box that is wide and deep for extra security of your everyday needed items. The glove box is locking and there is storage in each door bottom. Beside the luxury of real aluminum trim surrounds, all four windows are express up/down, a feature only found on the most expensive luxury sedans.
Standard features not mentioned above include: A/C, Hill hold control, central locking system, remote keyless entry, powered exterior mirrors, automatic headlights, 310-watt AM-FM-CD audio system with six speakers, dual map lights, sunglass holder, double pull-down inserts to make it easier to close the trunk, 60/40 split rear seat with trunk controls to fold each split flat, map pockets behind the front seatbacks, open storage underneath the center console, a pull-down rear armrest with dual cupholders/storage tray, remote trunk release, variable speed wipers/washers, cruise control and thick rubber floor mats for both rows of seats.
Standard safety features include driver/front passenger airbags, driver/front passenger side airbags, side-curtain airbags front/rear, 3-point safety belts for all five-seats, LATCH system for child seats, daytime running lamps, child safety rear door locks, tire pressure monitoring system and intelligent crash response system. Also, the Passat features a specially-reinforced safety cage, complete with anti-intrusion side beams and forged steel roof B-pillars plus front/rear crumple zones.
For a base price of just $22,945.00 and an EPA rating of 22 mpg/city and 31 mpg/highway, I received a combined 29.6 mpg after driving more than 450 city and highway miles; there is nothing else on the market for the money. The Passat S combines the best of world-renowned German engineering, innovation and safety that other mid-size sedans can only think of duplicating. The ride is rock solid, the interior is quiet, very pleasing to the eyes and touch, plus the safety systems are one of the best.
COPYRIGHT: 2013: HARVEY SCHWARTZ