New Sasol GTC cars set for thrills

The iconic Grand Prix Circuit will present a new challenge to the GTC drivers as they tackle the country’s fastest racetrack on June 16.

Suzuki’s new Swift hatch and sedan in SA

Suzuki kicks off its new model assault with an all new Swift hatchback and standalone sedan called the Dzire.

New VW Passat driven

2005-10-06 10:33

Wilmer Muller

Initially three models, the 2.0 FSI, 1.9 TDI and 2.0 TDI, will be available but the turbo-charged 2.0 FSI and a potent 3.2 V6 FSI will join the range early next year.

With the previous generation Passat some referred to it as a rebadged Audi A4, but with the new model VW is aiming at giving the car its own identity.

The latest Passat also features better dynamics, build quality and striking looks to tackle family sedans such as the Toyota Camry, Renault Laguna and Honda Accord.

Unlike before VW executives are not even scared to say that the Passat might even steel sales of its A4 cousin.

After driving the car it is clear that there is no obvious relationship with the A4 and that the Passat is now a model in its own right. Despite a few technical similarities and shared engine units, it never seems as if this is an Audi with a VW badge.

Whereas the previous generation shared its underpinnings with Audi the new model's platform is based on that of the Golf.

The Passat also looks and feels much different from any Audi and it is clear that this a Volkswagen product.

Its design shows VW's new design direction and the Passat takes a radical design departure from its predecessor.

Overall the car's appearance is more intimidating and daring than before, with the front featuring a dominating V-shaped chrome grille.

However, as before the Passat remains a sensible vehicle as one of its biggest attributes is space. At 4.77m the Passat is 62mm longer than before, while the car is also wider and taller than before.

Of course this results in generous cabin space and the car has an enormous boot too. Yes, boot space is up 19% and the total volume is 575 litres.

Trim levels

South African buyers have a choice of Comfortline and Highline trim, while the 2.0 T FSI and 3.2 V6 models will offer the Sportline package.

Although the Passat with Comfortline trim comes with standard features such as cruise control, all-round electric windows and semi-automatic air-conditioning, leather is optional but standard on the Highline models.

Unfortunately a feature such as a multi-function steering wheel is optional on all models, which we think should have been a standard.

A new feature available on all Passats is the press-and-drive key. It is basically a card-like key which one pushed into a slot on the dashboard. This system enables the electronic steering lock to be positioned independently of the ignition lock.

This means that the ignition lock no longer has to be in the knee impact area, thus making the utilisation of the knee airbag totally redundant. The steering column setting has been re-designed for the same reason.

Each Passat comes with six airbags (front, side and lateral head airbags) and the front airbags now appear in the form of a dual-phase design system.

This means that the intensity of their response will be driven entirely by the force of the collision. The passenger airbag can be switched off to allow smaller passengers in child seats to travel in front, this independent of the dual system.

There is also a full array of electronic driver safety aids such as ABS, anti-spin regulator (ASR), electronic stability programme (ESP) with brake assist, electronic brake-force distribution (EBD) and an electronic park brake (EPB).

The park brake has an optional hill-hold (standard with a removable towbar) that stops the car from rolling back when doing a start-stop uphill.


Unlike the previous generations, the new Passat engines are transversely mounted.

Volkswagen has made the most of this conversion in an attempt to perfect comfort levels via engine and gearbox suspension.

In addition to the vibration comfort levels, the developers focused their attention on the engine coupling and optimum no-load features.

The base model engine is the 2.0 FSI direct injection engine. It produces 110 kW of power at 6 000 r/min; and 200 Nm torque at 3 500 r/min. This engine is combined with both a 6-speed manual, front-wheel driven gearbox and a 6-speed Tiptronic gearbox.

The 2.0 FSI manual completes the 0-100 km/h sprint in 9.4 seconds, and has a top speed of 213km/h. Combined fuel consumption is 8.4 litres per 100 km, with an extra-urban consumption of only 6.6 litres per 100 km.

In Tiprtonic guise this models achieves the 0-100 km/h sprint in 10.2 seconds, and has a top speed of 208 km/h.

There are two diesel models, the 77 kW 1.9 TDI and the 2.0 TDI. The latter produces 103 kW at 4 000 r/min while it has a maximum torque figure of 320 Nm which is available at 1 750 r/min.

The 2.0 TDI Highline is offered with both a manual and VW's renowned DSG gearbox.

Better drive

There is no doubt that the sixth generation Passat is a better on the road than before. Its stiffer body and new suspension, which is aluminium at the front and similar to that of the Golf at the rear, results in an improved ride.

According to VW the new Passat has an improved static rigidity of 57% which also improves noise and vibration levels.

Although the car is bigger than before it is more nimble while handling appears sharper too. We didn't get to sample the 1.9 TDI model but the 2.0 TDI unit suits the Passat's character very well.

VW also managed to shut out most of the diesel engine's noise from the cabin and in general the 2.0 TDI was a swift cruiser.

However, in 2.0 FSI guise the Passat's ride appears a bit conservative and we eagerly await the arrival of the turbo-charged unit.

Ride quality is good too while the car's Servotronic steering had a sporty feel with nice feebback.


The latest Passat is a product VW can be proud of and it is clear that the company is serious about boosting its image. It does appear like a premium product and its space will be a huge selling point.

We liked the car's exciting design but found the interior a bit dull and uninspiring. The interior's fit and finish is a bit disappointing too, and although the build quality seemed solid it doesn't come across as premium.

But it is a car that makes sense when you are in the market for family wheels because of its space and standard safety features.

Thanks to its aggressive design the Passat's previous dull image makes way for an upmarket appearance.

Although the Passat is still not a match for cars such as the A4 and BMW 3 Series when it comes to an exciting drive, it feels secure and stable on the road.

With the new Passat VW managed to bring excitement to the Passat brand and believe it or not, for the first time the Passat is a guaranteed head-turner.


  • 2.0 FSI Comfortline (6-speed Manual): R226 500
  • 2.0 FSI Comfortline (Tiptronic): R238 000
  • 2.0 FSI Highline (6-speed Manual): R240 000
  • 1.9 TDI Comfortline (5-speed Manual): R230 500
  • 2.0 TDI Highline (6-speed Manual): R252 000
  • 2.0 TDI Highline (DSG): R265 000
  • 2.0 T FSI Sportline (Tiptronic): R285 000
  • 3.2 V6 Sportline DSG: R339 000


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