Volkswagen Passat

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Volkswagen Passat

Road Test

Volkswagen Passat first drive

Driven October 2010

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The VW nose-jobs keep coming. VW calls this a new-generation Passat, but that's optimistic. It's a facelift. The car underneath is the same, though all the outer panels bar the roof are new. In the case of the doors, only very marginally new.

And you don't have to be an industrial espionage expert to predict what the Passat CC will look like when it gets its turn under the surgeon's knife next year.

Still, at the same time as the chrometastic front end, the Passat has got quieter and more economical. Safer too, at least if you pay for the new options like collision radar with automatic braking. And all except the base versions maintain a watch over your steering inputs and warn you if you're acting drowsy.

The cabin trim is tweaked - more metal accents, a clock with actual hands, nothing major.

On the go, the engines are game performers. All the petrols are FSi turbo, so they're smooth and torquey and relatively frugal. The diesels are quieter than before, too.

It glides happily along, riding so well that you think it will hate corners. But it doesn't. Yes it's, shall we say, considered in its motions and it rolls. But it does what you ask and tells you what it's up to. Which is more fun than some over-stiff but non-communicative so-called sporty rivals.

It's quiet, comfy, economical, beautifully built and safe. And strangely enough that doesn't actually make it boring to drive.

VW expects this to be the first Passat generation where the estate outsells the saloon. You can see why. In the end you can't help falling for something so useful and honest.

Paul Horrell

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