Volkswagen Passat is a medium-large German car. Note the it shares quite a few out of sight components with upmarket Audis as that prestige marque is controlled by the Volkswagen Group.
The Passat works well for those looking for comfort, it has well-shaped seats and suspension which is able to soak up just about anything, even rough and ready Aussie backroads.
Handling is good, with neutral road behaviour at normal speeds, gradually changing to safe understeer if the big car is pushed hard.
Though smaller engines aren’t always accepted by Australian buyers, even the four-cylinder Passats have enough performance for many buyers. Many of the later petrols – and all diesels – use a turbocharger to generate significantly extra torque.
All-wheel drive isn’t all that common in Australian Passats but gives better traction coming out of corners and on slippery surfaces and is worth considering if you are doing a lot of driving on unmade surfaces, or even on the snow and ice for which it was originally designed.
For the revheads, Volkswagen imported the Passat R36. It used a warmed over variant of the 3.6-litre V6 engine 300 horsepower (220 kW) engine, all-wheel drive and sold in both sedan and wagon bodies. We find the wagon a particularly potent machine.
VW Passat Alltrack is a slightly jacked up station wagon that’s bought by those who don’t want an SUV but do intend to do some mild trips off the beaten track. Skiers love them and, as is often the way, Tasmanians also go for them.
The Alltrack has all-wheel drive, to save fuel it only engages the rear wheels when the computer senses the fronts are losing grip.
Volkswagen Passat CC was introduced in 2009. Virtually a four-door coupe the sleek Passat CC targets those who seldom use the back seat for adults, but who do want the convenience of rear doors. Note that it was simply called the CC from 2012. It’s smart to check both names if you’re doing an online search.
The Volkswagen dealer group is now represented in most Australian population centres of significant size. As is the norm most are in the major State capitals, but there are quite a few in larger country cities and towns.
Spare parts costs are about average for a moderately upmarket car in this class and we haven’t heard of many real complaints about availability.
Passat is a complex machine but a competent home mechanic should be able to do a fair bit of work. Always have a workshop manual on standby – and leave safety related items to professionals.
Insurance is generally not over expensive but make inquiries from a number of companies as there can be quite a difference in premiums.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR
Volkswagen cheated on emission controls during the period we are covering Passats. It recalled all its vehicles to make them legal again. Check with VW Australia (volkswagen.com.au) that this has been done on the Passat you’re considering.
If there is a flat spot in acceleration there could be fuel-injection problems, especially in older cars. These can be expensive to repair.
Check the insides of the front wheels for signs of brake dust buildup, probably indicating hard driving. This is more likely on one of the sporting models, but Passats do seem to attract people who like to push their cars hard.
Look over the body for signs of crash repairs, especially paint that doesn’t match and panels that don’t fit exactly. Check the complete body, including hard to reach areas under the bonnet, in the boot and under the car.
Passat Alltracks that have been used off road (a rare event) may have under-car damage. Check also for scars on the undersides of the bumpers, the front guard corners and for scratches on the guards and doors.
Expect to pay from $5000 to $9000 for a 2011 Volkswagen Passat 118 TSI; $8000 to $13,000 for a 2013 118 TSI; $11,000 to $16,000 for a 2013 125 TDI Highline or a 2011 R36; $14,000 to $21,000 2013 V6 FSI Highline; $16,000 to $23,000 for a 2015 Alltrack; $19,000 to $27,000 for a 2014 V6 FSI Highline or a 2017 132 TSI Comfortline; $24,000 to $33,000 for a 2017 Alltrack; and $33,000 to $44,000 for a 2018 206 TSI R-Line.
CAR BUYING TIP
Shop around for the vehicle type you’re considering for several weeks beforehand. That way you get a good idea of prices and what sort of problems you’ve seen.
RECALLS: To browse recalls on all vehicles go to the ACCC at: www.productsafety.gov.au/products/transport/cars/