Text: Inigo S. Roces / Photos: Inigo S. Roces, VW Philippines | posted March 15, 2016 08:40
Daring to be different
With large (D-segment) sedans typically pampering rear passengers with legroom and amenities, it's hard to extract oneself from the back and take the wheel every once in a while. The folks at Volkswagen, however, have not forgotten the executive that enjoys taking the reigns once in a while. That idea is evident in the new Passat.
To show just how much of a luxury cruiser and driver's car the new Passat is, VW Philippines invited members of the media to take on a nearly 400 kilometer drive to Anilao, Batangas and back.
From Volkswagen’s Bonifacio Global City showroom, a fleet of Passats were driven through the South Luzon Expressway to the Muntinlupa-Cavite Expressway to the twisty costal roads between Cavite and Batangas before arriving at the final stop: Le Chevrerie Resort and Spa in Anilao, Batangas.
Unlike its typical large sedan segment competitors, the Passat dares to defy many conventions. Styling-wise, it is far more subtle than ostentatious. There are no aggressively shaped grilles or valences, only a flat and broad grille with headlights underlined by daytime running lamps. Chrome strips run along the bottom of the car and around the windows. No frills on the side, just a character line running along the door handles. Behind is a flush trunk, with twin trapezoidal exhausts neatly recessed into the bumper.
VW offers the Passat in two variants: the Highline and the Business Edition. The Highline is already equipped with a tempting package, along with a potent 2.0 TSI to propel it. The Business Edition features the LED DRLs, ErgoComfort chair massage, larger wheels, and a large panoramic sunroof.
Inside, the Passat features a very minimalist interior with air con vents that practically blend into the design of the dash. The interior colors almost fade into one another, while the center console is framed in leather. The wheel is sculpted but hardly brags about its sporty influence, while the seats feature a clever blend of Alcantara and leather. The interior’s upholstery color depends on the exterior color, with black seats for a white or gray car, brown interior for a brown or black car, or the plush white seats for a red car.
Behind, it may not break the record books in terms of legroom, but it’s certainly adequate enough to open up a laptop in and fire off a quick email. It’s even more enjoyable to sleep in. Nonetheless, the best seat in the house is still the drivers’. After all, in the Buisness Edition, it’s equipped with a built-in massage function. With Shiatsu-like motion, the ErgoComfort feature kneads with some pressure to keep the driver comfortable but awake. Opt for the Active Info Display (PhP50,000) for a full LCD instrument cluster which integrates GPS maps and more detailed displays, not unlike that in the new Audis.
In spite of their starkly contrasting purposes, the Passat and Golf GTI actually share a lot of similarities. For one, both share the same architecture, with the Passat sporting clever use of aluminum and high strength steel to radically lighten yet stiffen the body. The same GTI 2.0-liter TSI (Turbocharged Stratified Injection) also beats under the hood of the Passat, giving it 220 horsepower to move an already light body. This is paired to a six-speed DSG double clutch automatic, for lightning quick gear changes.
All this adds up to become a car that can be either pampering or potent. The Passat returns a typical German sedan ride to match the very quiet cabin. Like we mentioned earlier, it’s best enjoyed in the driver’s seat, where in spite of its size, proves to be quite quick and nimble. The 2.0-liter turbo can rocket it from 0-100 km/h in just 6.7 seconds. In fact, this acceleration is especially handy when overtaking on country roads. It also handles exceptionally well for its size, eager to take on tight turns, returning great feedback on the road surface, and remarkably stable even on bad roads.
It will certainly keep pace with comparable sedans with larger engines, but leave them in the dust when it comes to fuel efficiency, with an average of 9 km/L in the city and 13 km/L in the highway.
Our drive to Anilao, via the scenic route took a longer 4-5 hours with stops versus the three hours via normal way, but it’s time we certainly enjoyed in such a pampering vehicle. There are few other road trips where passengers fight to have a go at the wheel.
What's even more interesting is that the Passat is actually equipped with Apple CarPlay as a connectivity bonus which we discovered thanks to a tip from VW Quezon Avenue's GM Bob Palanca. This technically makes the Passat, the first vehicle to offer the connectivity feature in the Philippine market.
The VW Passat is offered at P2,253,000 for the Highline and P2,759,000 for the Business Edition. It may not undercut the established Japanese favorites, but offers much of that reputed German luxury for far less. Best of all, it’s far more discreet than its competitors, which is a rarest luxury of all for those that value it.