It’s the technology, not the looks

The current generation Volkswagen Passat is a great midsize family sedan with all the bells and whistles. Yet despite its tank like build quality, features and amenities that rival that of a yatch, sales of this luxurious beast has not been as strong compared to its European rivals such as the Mercedes Benz and BMW.

Maybe it is due to the conservative styling of the car. Compared to its Teutonic and Japanese rivals such as the Honda Accord and the Mazda 6, the Passat seems like the school nerd with pigtails that chews gum but with an IQ of 97 percent. Yes, the Passat is more about technology rather than good looks. 

To be honest about it, I was smitten by the subtle exteriors and classy design during a ride and drive event a few months back that I decided to have another go recently. This time, the seventh generation Passat was our chosen ride for my wife’s birthday weekend celebration.  

Innovative technology wrapped in conservative styling
For starters, Volkswagen has always been adventurous in terms of design, and the Passat holds the baton for that restrained tradition. Based on the aging PQ46 platform, the Passat that is being sold locally is already an “older” 2015 version. Designed under the guidance of Marc Licthe, who is head honcho for Audi design, the Passat’s exterior is characterized by horizontal lines that make it sleeker and low slung. Being design innovators, Volkswagen design stamps are evident in the four-bar grille design, with dashes of chrome throughout the car.  The LED headlight system appeals to my taste, also the fog lamps and LED taillights. 

The Germans have it better because the Passat is being sold with 10 engine options to choose from, while here, the Passat is offered only in two levels of trim, the Passat 2.0 Highline TSI DSG and my test unit, the Passat Business Edition 2.0 liter TSi DSG which has a shortlist of comfort and power features. I had the car on “comfort” mode most of the time, but when two Mini Coopers provoked me during a stretch along SCTEX, I just had to go on “Sport” mode to command their respect. Gunning the accelerator, the two Coopers were just dots in my rear view mirror in a matter of seconds. The car is agile despite its weight and the good thing about this car is the adaptive chassis which has three settings, normal, comfort and sport mode. 

Inside, the car’s cabin is roomy with leather stitched materials all around, even on the armrests. The dashboard is a conversation piece which displays a navigational map, plus tachometers designed during the “Jetsons” era. My daughter had a blast with the car’s infotainment system that allows pairing with the iPhone6 and 5.0 inch touch screen at the center console. 

Driving up to the Kamana Sanctuary in Nabasan Bay, the road was a series of twisties which was once used for rally racing during the mid 90’s. It was the perfect venue to test the car’s handling and agility. Being a large car, the Passat has excellent road manners with electro-mechanical power steering that reasonably negates torque steer of the front-wheel drive system. The chassis and suspension system does a good job in softening the blows of the cracked pavement. 

After a brief “WRC” moment, we were already at the driveway of the Kamana Sanctuary, a leisure resort nestled between an old growth rainforest at the tip of Nabasan Bay. With majestic mountain tops, lush rainforest plus the deep blue waters of Subic Bay as backdrop, the Passat gets a thumbs up for its relaxed and refined demeanor which made our birthday weekend more memorable.

Topics: Volkswagen Passat
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