Words: Calvin Chan
Photography: Calvin Chan
Published: January 12, 2018
Sedans have not exactly been selling well these days. Ask the Ford Fusion, newly minted Honda Accord, or even the radically styled Toyota Camry. Customers, especially in Canada, have been flocking towards their trusty SUVs with all-wheel drive systems, higher ground clearance, and more cargo space.
The Volkswagen Passat has not been spared of the world’s wrath either, falling behind the Tiguan and even the larger and more expensive three-row Atlas in sales numbers despite receiving subtle but meaningful updates over the years. In 2016, the Passat went under the knife for some upgraded sheetmetal and interior technology, which did a lot to extend its lifespan, and for 2018, the 1.8-litre TSI engine has been replaced by a 2.0-litre TSI with a four-horsepower bump and marginally better fuel economy. Volkswagen says it now produces 174 hp and 184 lb-ft and darts from 0-100 km/h in 8.0 seconds. The 3.6-litre V6 is still available for a premium and delivers 280 hp and 258 lb-ft instead, but doesn’t offer enough juice to swing with competitors like the 380 lb-ft Ford Fusion V6 Sport. Both engines are mated to the same six-speed dual-clutch transmission with FWD as the only option.
I had the opportunity to test drive the Passat with the revamped 2.0-litre TSI engine in the top-end Highline trim that came with notable features like leather seats, ambient lighting, heated rear seats, and a power sunroof. Our tester was further equipped with the R-Line Package ($2,215) that adds an aero kit for the front bumper, side skirts, and rear diffuser, as well as paddle shifters, R-line badging, 19-inch wheels, and aluminum door sills and pedals. In all, our Passat was quite the handsome sedan. Sure the styling is reserved and inoffensive, but I rather enjoy its sleek lines, wide stance, and mature rear end. I think it actually looks better than the Accord and Camry.
The interior tells a different story, one that shows its age rather well. Plasticky panels run rampant, and though I am usually fond of Volkswagen products and their cabin quality and refinement, this Passat left me disappointed with poor fit and finish, and sun visors that never stayed flush with the headliner. The 6-inch infotainment screen is nice and the unit is easy to use, but you cannot get the larger 8-inch screen from the Golf and Atlas. Happily, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay come standard, as well as a rear view camera, heated seats, and Bluetooth connectivity - these days these must-have features should be standard regardless.
As part of the Driver’s Assistance Package, the Passat is loaded with a whole suite of safety features like blind spot monitoring, adaptive cruise control, and park assist, though during my experience in the snow, once the sensors get covered with mild slush and mud, they become overly reactive and beep and ping every few seconds - I ended up turning off all the safety systems just to keep myself sane.
But onto the big news, which is the new engine. It may displace 200 cc more than last year, but it only delivers four more horsepower, which I think is a missed opportunity to transform this Passat into a more potent family cruiser. There is a Passat GT coming to North America mid-2018, which aims to spice up this aging platform with a bit of the GLI/GTI aesthetics like a honeycomb front grill, two-tone leatherette sport seats, performance exhaust, a lower sport-tuned suspension, red brake calipers, and the V6 engine as standard. I doubt it will do much to liven up the experience or the spartan interior, but anything is worth a shot at this point.
My time with the new 2.0-litre TSI, the same engine you would find in the Golf and Atlas, was disappointing to say the least. Power was lethargic and though the 6-speed DSG did its best to keep the power running smoothly, it was not tuned well enough to offer the same quick shifts and creamy power delivery that I have experienced in other Volkswagen products. I do not think the new 2.0-litre TSI changes much for the Passat, nor does it strike a chord and alter its unremarkably bland drive.
The mildy refreshed Passat gets away in 2018 with handsome styling and an aggressive R-Line body kit that I think any Passat owner should opt for, but the new four-cylinder engine, uneventful drive, and bleak interior with unsupportive seats keeps it from being my choice in the $30,000 sedan spectrum. Best to look elsewhere.
型号 Model: 2018 Volkswagen Passat TSI Highline R-Line
顏色 Paint Type: Tourmaline Blue Metallic
廠方建議售價 Base Price: $35,795
試車售價 Price as Tested: $39,375
軸距 Wheelbase(mm): 2,803
長闊 Length/Width/Height (mm): 4,875 / 1,834 / 1,472
車重 Curb weight (kg): 1,503
引擎 Engine: 2.0-litre turbocharged inline-four
最大馬力 Horsepower: 174 hp
最高扭力 Torque: 184 lb-ft
波箱 Transmission: 6-speed DSG
擺佈 Engine & Drive Configuration: Front engine, FWD
油耗 Fuel Consumption ( City / Highway ) L/100km: 9.3 / 6.5