Yeah, i'm really impressed with it. But maintenance side they are also above the Japanese marques. VW chassis feels super rigid too even just the Vento.It's basically a Passat GTi. But the price is way above your budget. Other than the Golf GTi its the only other VW with a wet 6 speed transmission. And they are the only 2 I would ever consider buying. The rest are all on dry 7 speed if i am not mistaken.
Passat is comfortable. I'd rank its interior above all the Japanese marques. Classy and clean, more like BMW than Mercedes in that utilitarian sense.