A history lesson…
Volkswagen’s effort at creating a luxurious saloon for the modern market left us with the Passat. Sure, it never looked anywhere near as appealing as its rivals, but what it did have was character and, above all, ridiculously impressive build quality.
VW’s attention to detail with the Passat was brilliant. When you buy one, you’re pretty much assured that little will go wrong and that the interior won’t fall to pieces. Which is nice.
Several models like the CC, W8 and Estate were added to the Passat line-up over the years, with the W8 version tempting us the most, but the standard car was more than impressive enough to be considered as a viable alternative over the Audi A4's and 3-Series of the world.
Bang for your buck
As with almost every saloon on the market, the VW Passat gets everything you’d expect: air-con, climate control, traction control, loads of air-bags, controls on the steering wheel and plenty of space in the rear. It’s just as good as its rivals but without costing the Earth to buy and own.
Sure, all VWs are expensive, but compared to its BMW rivals, the Passat looks very cheap. You could say the Passat is up against the Mondeo and Mazda 6, but it is a saloon car, so in theory, it’s up against all of them.
The 275bhp W8 Passat is our pick of the bunch.
What you’ll pay
£10,500 on a 2002 51-plate, while the aforementioned W8 will take some finding, so expect to pay a premium for that fire-breathing model.
What to check
Some Passats will be coming towards ten years old now, so make sure there’s no rust showing. If there is, that could be cause for concern. The Passat, due to it being a saloon, has big alloys, so check for any damage to each corner.
Brake pads are £95 per pair up front and £65 at the rear, while an exhaust system for the W8 will cost around £1,500. This is something to think about when buying the powerful models.
How it drives
Newer Passats drive brilliantly. The R32 and W8 hot versions are a real barrel of laughs, if a little heavy, on the road and really will warm your heart on those cold, wintery mornings. The diesel and smaller capacity models are less exciting but still remain with that superior build quality and comfort that only VW can provide.
The boot on the Passat is very impressive, while interior space is just as healthy. The steering is positive and reactive, the seating position is pretty much perfect and the handling is soft, if a little underwhelming.
If a Mondeo is just too boring, a 3-Series too expensive and an A4 too common, the Passat is in-waiting for its chance to impress, and we’d be surprised if you weren’t happy driving Germany’s finest after a few days behind the wheel. It’s a very impressive car that doesn’t get all the press it should.