Its new physique may turn some people off, not just because it's not particularly exciting to look at but the fact that there's little differentiating it from its predecessor. Forget about the mundane exterior for now. First, let me assure you, VW's latest Passat is definitely all-new inside and out and I am pleasantly surprised by its impressive refinement, and power.
I've the privilege of acquiring this test unit, specifically the Highline 2L Turbo 380 TSI, 6 speed DSG from our friends up north, Lee Motors. The premiere multi brand car dealership including VW cars based in Alor Setar.
Having been acquainted with the GTI powered 380 badged Passat B8, here are my first impression gathered:
Interior is more than decent, not jaw dropping but definitely pleasant. Dash, panels and trims feels good to the touch. Night ambient lighting strips surround the interior. It's noticeable yet sophisticated. Rear space is enormous and feels almost like a Passat-Long version as a passenger. Elsewhere in the interior, the seats are conventional looking, based on signature VW design like the previous Passat CC.
Steering feel is great, a little light but responsive and precise. In operation, the bigger wheelbase than before (B7=2,711mm vs B8=2,791mm) new Passat manages its real estate well and manoeuvres very much like a Golf 7. However, it's length can be felt when parking and negotiating obstacles. At times it does feel like a bigger BMW F10, no complaints there.
Instrument cluster is supreme. These new age screens are definitely here to stay. UI is crisp and informative, there's almost no telling it isn't analog either, especially after a moment's usage. Movements are super responsive while crucial needle action is smooth and in real-time. Multifunction steering controls the screen and reveals navigation, vitals, audio and so on.
Power is impressive for a GTI engined executive and builds pace really well. This new platform also means it's 90 kg lighter than before. Stretching the legs of this 380 TSI unit, I have to say it feels almost as quick as a MK7 GTI. New 380 badge signifies its torque figure.
DSG is brilliant. Transmission operation is creamy smooth with zero fuss be it at stop go's, heavy traffic or at full swing. Shift times are swift, not PDK level but still, damn swift.
Drive is undoubtedly refined and faultless, far surpassing previous Passats where they were more akin to barges with a Golf engine and hardly inspring to drive. This B8 is truly well sorted.
Suspension although still mechanical, is miles ahead of previous Passats in ride comfort and high speed stability. The Passat B8 is very much like a longer Golf 7 in overall nibmbleness but with added benefit of a longer wheelbase. It's not taut, it's not anywhere near enthusiastic in the handling department but it tries. The good news is, it is largely an enjoyable driving experience. It does however retains VW's inherent and distinct thud at low speed, sharp bumps.
I love how the car feels entirely, I like how it exudes a genuine premium feel across the board. Finishing is superb everywhere.*User experience wise, VW's got that part covered incredibly well. Every button, stalk or door handle is weighted to perfection.
I can't say the same for the exterior of the B8 Passat though. Yes it's got a lot of good bits and details to justify the more mature demeanour but its not even remotely refreshing.
You'd be forgiven to think it looks much like the B7 generation. However, when you take a step back and start appreciating subtle changes made, it's quite obvious how the new Passat strive to integrate familiar 7 series muscular tones and ribs across the sides of the car.
New age gimmicks such as powered boot and door lighting just elevates the Passat's status and desirability, after all, this is the top of the range Highline, costing almost exactly RM200K. Still, the Passat B8 is pretty feature loaded for the money.
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