Volkswagen have introduced some interesting new features to the new Passat - firstly, they have introduced press and drive, a keyless starting system.
Ease of Use
Volkswagen have introduced some interesting new features to the new Passat - firstly, they have introduced "press and drive", a keyless starting system. The remote control door-locking fob is inserted into the dashboard to start the car and you simply push it to start the car, with your foot on the clutch or brake if automatic. There is a keyless option (£305), which dismisses with the key fob, leaving you with just a starter button.
The conventional handbrake has been replaced by an electronic handbrake, which is operated by a button to the right of the steering column. The parking brake operates on all four wheels, to brake/park the car you press the button in, to release the parking brakes; you can either drive off or press the button again. It works well although the button was hard to reach, from my driving position. By using an electronic brake, it has freed up the space that a conventional handbrake would take up, and on our car, the space was taken up with an armrest with a concealed air-conditioned storage compartment underneath.
I was astonished by the size of the Passat’s boot (485 cubic litres); now I can take the kitchen sink on holiday, plus the cabinets. The split 60/40 rear seats fold down to increase to load carrying capacity and the seats-backs can be locked by key, to keep the boot secure.
The ergonomically designed seats are height adjustable for the driver (and passenger, from SE trim upwards), with an increase to the range of both length and height settings in comparison to the previous generation Passat. The front seat inclination is simultaneously adjusted in the new model as height adjustments are made. A new rail mechanism allows more subtle adjustments of the front seating length. A six-way electronically adjustable driver’s seat is available from SE trim upwards. In this case, the driver’s seat is equipped with an electrically adjustable lumbar support.
Front and rear legroom is exceptional; the Passat could be used as a Taxi or by a chauffeuring company with ease. From the B pillar backwards, the glass is tinted by 65% (sports model standard), so your rear seat passengers have a degree of privacy.
The Passat has a host of practical storage spaces. The glove box is large enough to house A4 documents, while the air conditioning on all models extends to this storage compartment, meaning that drinks and chocolate bars can be kept cool. I have always wondered if air conditioned glove boxes are a gimmick, but they do work I left a bar of chocolate in my car, which had melted, and being desperate to eat it, I placed it in the glove compartment with the air conditioning set to low, within the hour it was solid again. Therefore, I can recommend keeping your chocolate in your air-conditioned glove compartment.
The optional CD auto-changer - and navigation system, if specified
- is stored in
a hidden drop-down tray above the glove box, and is accessed via a new cable-controlled mechanism, providing easy retrieval. Where it is not specified, the owner’s handbook is stored in this area. I am not sure how long this will continue to work - it is a clever idea, but it seemed a bit flimsy.
Other storage areas include a smaller glove box on the driver’s side, a practical roof storage console, and front door compartments that can accommodate large drink bottles, but still leave enough room for a map. Two small drawers are accessible on either side of the hazard-warning switch.
Space is even allocated for an umbrella, which can be stowed in a door compartment on the driver’s side for convenient access.
There is not doubt that Volkswagen have carefully thought of the users of the Passat. However, one negative point is the swooping line from the front ‘A’ pillar to the rear of the car which has lowered the roof line. Those of us with limited mobility may find entering the Passat a little awkward.
Safety and Security
The addition of highly effective passive safety elements using intelligent, active safety components such as ESP makes the Passat one of the world’s safest saloons and the safest Passat to date. The basis for optimum passive safety is the highest possible bodywork rigidity, an area where the new Passat sets new standards in its class.
The car’s restraint systems also improve safety levels, as it is equipped as standard with dual-stage front airbags, active front seat head restraints, in addition to front seat side airbags and curtain airbags (for the front and rear). A rear seat side airbag system is a low-cost (£210) optional extra, this really annoys me, all airbags should be standard throughout the range.
In the event of a head-on collision, passengers are protected by the high-tensile bodywork structure and restraint systems, with the passenger cell greatly improving survival chances. During offset crash tests, the passenger cell suffered only low-level intrusions, while distortions in the foot wells were particularly low. Furthermore, in the case of serious head-on accidents, the crash-optimised pedal control system reduces the risk of injury to the driver’s feet and legs with the aid of an automatic pedal retraction mechanism.
Volkswagen Passat Road Test Data
|Model Reviewed||Volkswagen Passat|
|Body Type||4-Door Saloon|
|Performance (manufacturers data)|
|0 - 62 mph||TBC|
|CO2 Emissions (NEDC Figures)||g/km|
|Economy (NEDC Figures)|
|Euro NCAP Rating||TBC|
|Price (when tested on the 30/05/05)||TBC|