motorist car buyer's guide: volkswagen passat 1.8 tfsi

The Germans have a reputation (or stereotype) for being staid, lacking in humour, perhaps even a little dull. This can even be seen in some of their cars. But is it all that bad being a little dull? This Volkswagen Passat is here to show that being dull isn’t all that bad.

The Passat has been in production since 1973, and has been a mainstay in Volkswagen’s local lineup as far back as most of us can remember. Even when other Volkswagen saloon models like the Phaeton and Arteon were phased out, the Passat has continued to hold strong, and that can be seen by how many Passats are still running around on local roads.

A quick side note; this Passat is currently listed for sale at One Drive Automotive, so do approach them if you are interested!

What is this?

As mentioned earlier, the Passat has been in production for almost 50 years by now. This Passat is the B8 generation, which is still in current production. It was launched in both petrol and diesel variants, with a range of engine choices available, from 1.4-litres to 2.0-litres, all of which were turbocharged. All-wheel drive was also an option with the 2.0-litre variants.

motorist car buyer's guide: volkswagen passat 1.8 tfsi

This particular Passat has a turbocharged 1.8-litre engine, or its official designation, 1.8 TFSI, with TFSI standing for turbo fuel stratified injection, which is Volkswagen’s nomenclature for its turbocharged engines. Power is rated at 178 horsepower and 250 Nm of torque, with power sent to front wheels via a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission.

While the Passat is far from a powerful vehicle, it is still capable of cruising comfortably for long distances at a decent rate of speed. Maximum torque is also available from low in the rev range, which allows for easy overtaking in city driving. Not to mention, the smooth shifting nature of the dual-clutch gearbox means that gear shifts are almost imperceptible in daily driving, but also instantaneous when the Passat is driven aggressively.

Is it any good on the wallet?

Whether or not this Passat is a reliable car can depend on who you ask. For most people, the Passat is quite reliable, with not many problems to speak of. However, there are owners who unfortunately have gotten the short end of the stick, suffering from one problem to another. Generally, with proper maintenance, meaning every 10,000km or 6 months, there shouldn’t be any major mechanical issues.

motorist car buyer's guide: volkswagen passat 1.8 tfsi

As for fuel consumption, Volkswagen claims an average of 5.9L/100km, but actual fuel economy has shown to be higher, with an average of 10L/100km.

Unfortunately, the Passat is still known for some issues, some of which can be more expensive than others. The engine on the Passat is known to leak oil as it ages, which could either mean the seals on the engine need replacing, or the head gasket could be the culprit. High oil consumption is also a known trait, and while that isn’t exactly a problem and more of an inconvenience, it would still be beneficial to carry around an extra bottle of engine oil in the car should the “low engine oil” warning suddenly come on.

The dual-clutch gearbox in the Passat is known to have a fair share of issues. Reports of slipping clutches, jerkiness at low speed or issues with the mechatronics unit have all been reported. The gearbox used in the Passat is a dry-clutch system, which means it is not contained within an environment of oil. As such, the Passat’s gearbox has been known to wear out its clutches prematurely, and there isn’t a true fix for this as this problem originates from the design of the gearbox itself.

The most prevalent issue with the Passat’s dual-clutch gearbox is the mechatronics unit, or what happens to the gearbox when the mechatronics unit fails. As that unit is the “electronic brain” of the gearbox, its failure would result in the gearbox not being able to operate, and it has to be replaced with a new unit. Some owners have reported facing this issue, while others have not.

motorist car buyer's guide: volkswagen passat 1.8 tfsi

Fortunately, these problems can be rectified under warranty, which is a good thing, as problems like the mechatronics unit replacement are extremely costly, worst still if the problem only surfaces after your warranty lapses.

Ultimately, if you are interested in a Passat, do send it for a thorough inspection at Volkswagen specialist workshop (plenty of those around), or send your vehicle to VICOM or STA for their vehicle evaluation services. If there are any problems (especially costly ones), better to find them before you purchase the vehicle rather than after.

Is it comfortable inside?

Volkswagen products have typically been of good build quality, and the Passat is no different. Fit and finish is good, with soft touch materials used on the dashboard, door panels, door handles, as well as the gear knob and steering wheel. Sound insulation is decent, with most road noises being reduced to a comfortable level even on the rough roads we drove the Passat on.

motorist car buyer's guide: volkswagen passat 1.8 tfsi

The seats in this particular Passat are all upholstered in leather, with electric seat adjustments for the front seats. Five people will fit in this car, although it must be said that the middle rear seat isn’t the most comfortable, so it will be more suitable for just four passengers. Fortunately, rear headroom isn’t an issue, as the Passat’s roofline isn’t aggressively raked at the back, with sufficient space even for passengers who are over 1.8m tall.

The infotainment system is the factory Volkswagen system, and it is easy and intuitive to use, plus the screen is also rather sizable. Thankfully, Volkswagen elected to fit the Passat with physical controls for the volume and tuning knob, together with hard buttons for functions like the radio, media and phone, which makes using the infotainment while driving simple. There is also an analogue clock on the dashboard. It’s nothing fancy, but it is a nice touch to have compared to just having the infotainment system display the time like most cars do today.

The HVAC system also gets physical knobs and buttons to control all its functions, which again makes it easy to adjust the air conditioning settings even while driving. It also blows cold, which is most welcome in our local climate, and there are also air vents in the rear for rear passengers to utilise. There is also dual zone air conditioning at the front, so both the driver and the passenger can adjust the temperature on their side to their liking without affecting the other person.

motorist car buyer's guide: volkswagen passat 1.8 tfsi

The steering column has both tilt and telescopic adjustment, with the gauge cluster having analogue dials for the speedometer and tachometer, and a small LCD screen in the middle to display information like the odometer, range, trip computer and fuel consumption rate. The rear seats can be folded down in a 60/40 split, with the ISOFIX points located under plastic covers.

The Passat comes factory fitted with Pirelli Cinturato P7 tyres in the size of 215/55/R17. While these tyres aren’t exactly comfort-biased, they ride quietly enough and don’t generate that much road noise. This, combined with the Passat’s decent noise insulation, provides a comfortable ride one would expect from a vehicle at this price point.

Can it carry a lot of cargo?

The Passat has 586 litres of boot space, which is very generous for a saloon. It is also relatively wide, allowing for two golf bags to fit inside with little problem. The rear seats can also be folded down for longer items to be loaded in. Alternatively, there is a concealed hatch in the center seat that can allow long and narrow items to be loaded into the car without folding down the entire rear seat.

motorist car buyer's guide: volkswagen passat 1.8 tfsi

And yes, the Passat does come with a spare tyre, should you ever need one.

Alternatives

motorist car buyer's guide: volkswagen passat 1.8 tfsi

If you want something that will virtually be problem free, you can’t go wrong with the Toyota Camry. Granted, it doesn’t have a turbocharged engine like the Passat. But, it was available with a petrol-powered 2.0 or 2.5-litre, as well as a 2.5-litre hybrid. There is a reason why the Camry is still one of the best selling cars globally to date, for its comfort and reliability is something other manufacturers strive to achieve.

motorist car buyer's guide: volkswagen passat 1.8 tfsi

Or how about the Hyundai Sonata? While this car might not be the most common car in Singapore, it is still rather comparable to the Passat. It was available with a 2.0-litre naturally aspirated petrol engine and six-speed automatic transmission, which made for smooth and comfortable driving. And as a bonus, the Sonata also came factory fitted with ventilated front seats, which is a much welcome feature in Singapore.

Verdict

If you are willing to put up with some potential issues that may or may not occur in the course of your ownership, the Volkswagen Passat is a good choice. Its comfort and pace is hard to beat, and it has more than sufficient power for local roads and will happily cruise at higher speeds should you want to drive up north.

I said at the start that some might consider a German car like the Passat a little dull, Volkswagen still put in the effort to make the Passat comfortable while still having some decent power. Plus, it is quite a handsome car, and is arguably better looking (to me at least) than its comparable German counterparts like the Audi A6 and Mercedes E-Class.

If you are keen on getting a Volkswagen Passat as your next car, or any other used car for that matter, do take a look at our used car selection here for some of the best deals!

Motorist would like to extend our thanks to One Drive Automobile for loaning us the Toyota Harrier Turbo for this article.

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