By on October 5, 2010


A friend of mine once tried to break the world record for the longest time standing on one foot. The record (at the time) was held by Arulanantham Suresh Joachim of Sri Lanka for standing on one foot for 76 hours and 40 minutes. My friend lasted 2 minutes, then collapsed in heap and wondered if he’d maybe broken a bone in his leg. Silly boy. If he wanted to get into the Guinness Book of World Records, all he had to do was buy a Volkswagen Passat.

Favstocks reports that the Volkswagen Passat Bluemotion has set the Guinness World Record for the longest distance travelled by a standard production passenger car on a single tank of fuel. The stunt started in Maidstone, Kent, UK. They attempted to drive to the South of France and back again. Unfortunately, on the way back to the UK, the Passat ran dry near Calais, France. In total, the Passat travelled 1,526.63 miles (or 2,456 kilometers, for all you imperial measurement haters) on 77.25 liters of regular diesel. Or 20.4 US gallons. That equates to 74.8 miles per US Gallon or 89.83mpImpG. What makes this particularly impressive is that the Passat Bluemotion’s official fuel consumption figures are (combined) 64.2 mpImpg (53.45mpUSg). The car mainly stuck to the French autoroutes, but did do some town driving. However, what made this test slightly unrealistic for real world users is that the average speed for the trip was 45mph. 45mph?! No wonder the whole trip took 3 days!

The irony is that cars like the Passat Bluemotion are well suited to American driving styles. You have long drives between towns (possibly, states) and your cars are used much more frequently than in Europe. If Volkswagen can federalize it, would it tickle your fancy…?

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49 Comments on “The Volkswagen Passat. More Interesting Than You Think...”


  • avatar
    Uncle Mellow

    If you want your fancy tickled , you would need to choose a Passat CC. Much more interesting than the regular old Passat.

  • avatar
    Contrarian

    I’m waiting for someone to bring larger TDs over here. Hello! I’ll buy one! Do it before someone else beats you to it. But the next car size up would be even better.

  • avatar
    ash78

    I’ve completely given up on begging for diesels, making a case for them (both financial and ecological), and explaining how their performance is nearly as good as gassers in every respect, and even better in some respects.
     
    GM and Mercedes didn’t package them very well in the 80s, and as long as those buyers are still alive to shape our collective ignorance, and as long as the EPA says “you have to save fuel! But you can’t emit particulates, either!” then we’ll be stuck.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      Most people loved their Mercedes Benz diesels. At one point, over 80% of US Mercedes were diesels. It took the combined forces of cheap gas and tough to meet particulate emissions standards to kill US Mercedes diesel models.

    • 0 avatar
      wallstreet

      It is coming back with a vengeance >
      http://www.mbusa.com/mercedes/vehicles/explore/overview/class-E/model-E350BTC

    • 0 avatar
      johnthacker

      Well, the move under the Bush Administration in 2006 to ultra low sulfur diesel makes it significantly easier to decrease those particulates, and is why the Euros are trying to bring over more diesels against right now.

  • avatar
    brettc

    Of course it would, if it was an actual Passat. Instead we’re supposed to get the Americanized NMS from Chattanooga. It will reportedly come standard with 60 cupholders and an all maroon interior no matter which exterior colour you choose. The NMS is supposed to be offered with a diesel engine, but no one knows for sure what exactly the car will be like yet.

    The last time VW offered a TDI Passat in North America was the 2004-2005 model year. It was offered with a 2.0 litre PD TDI. It was also sold with a screwy balance shaft system that used a chain and is prone to early failure, which can destroy the engine. If you’re the lucky owner of an ’04 or ’05 Passat TDI you can ditch the chain setup for a gear system. Parts and labour work out to somewhere around $2000 for the job.
    http://pics.tdiclub.com/data/3419/BHW_Balance_Shaft_Module_Replacement.pdf

    The fuel economy is impressive on TDIs. That’s why I drive one. But VW sure does make some dumb engineering decisions on occasion.
     

  • avatar
    jacob_coulter

    Too bad California prevents diesel cars like this from being sold in America.  We would have incredible diesel technology available, but CARB shuts them out.

    • 0 avatar
      OldandSlow

      If you count imported oil by the barrel – then fewer barrels would need to be imported – should small diesels become common place.  My advice is to forgetaboutit!  The enviro nannies on the West Coast are here to stay.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      If you count imported oil by the barrel
       
      This is actually an interesting point.  Diesel isn’t as efficient if you measure it’s consumption by mass instead of volume.

      The enviro nannies on the West Coast are here to stay.

      CARB emissions have been adopted by the states that buy the most cars and, consequently, have the most money. California may set the standard, but they’re hardly the only follower. If you want this changed, those states will need to vote differently and/or “flyovers” will need to buy more cars.

    • 0 avatar
      OldandSlow

      Then let me change my reply to include the enviro nannies on both the West and East coasts ;)
       
      Yep, I do live in a fly-over state.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      Yep, I do live in a fly-over state.
       
      I should clarify: I don’t mean this in a bad way: you’re just outnumbered and out-earned.  Your best bet, at this point, is to encourage  most of the CARB states to secede and join Canada.

    • 0 avatar
      jacob_coulter

      The problem is the environmental activists California are purposely trying to call the shots on the entire nation’s environmental policy.  They know it’s too much of a risk and hassle for the car makers to manufacture products for only certain states in the US.

      I personally think car makers should say ,”Fine, only hatchbacks and hybrids for California”  The oh so wise, enlightened residents of California would change their tune real quick.
      I’d be the first one to sign off if California ever wants to secede.  It would save us from having to bail the state out.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      The problem is the environmental activists California are purposely trying to call the shots on the entire nation’s environmental policy.  They know it’s too much of a risk and hassle for the car makers to manufacture products for only certain states in the US.
       
      So, if you don’t like California regs and don’t live in California, vote people in your state who don’t support CARB standards.  And—this is the important part—buy more cars than CARB states do.  California calls the shots because they, and the other CARB states, buy more cars, and their politicians are elected by people who have no issue with CARB regulations.
       
      This is simple, market-driven, majority-rules behaviour.  If you want diesels, prove that you’re willing to pay for them.

    • 0 avatar
      jacob_coulter

      psarhjinian
       
      it doesn’t work that way, cars are far too complicated and expensive to make for just certain US states.  i would like to “vote with my feet” but we never get the opportunity because the car companies never make the vehicles in the first place because Kalifornia cuts them off at the knees.  It’s too big a financial risk.
       
      If what California did had no effect on the rest of us, I wouldn’t mind, but it most certainly does.  The rest of the car buyers in the US aren’t the problem with why these diesels aren’t being made, it’s the dingbat bureaucrats in California that are the problem.
       

    • 0 avatar
      vento97

      >it’s the dingbat bureaucrats in California that are the problem.
       
      Export the California bureaucrats to China.
      Problem solved

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      If what California did had no effect on the rest of us, I wouldn’t mind, but it most certainly does.

      That’s my point.  Saying it’s unjust that California makes it hard to import diesels is like blaming democracy because the guy who got elected is doing things you don’t like.

      CARB is doing what the people of California are giving it a mandate it to do.  That many other states, all of whom have a lot of economic clout, are following CARB’s lead has to do with what their citizens want.  California and the other CARB states are a big enough market that things like the Legacy PZEV are made; on the other hand, non-CARB states are too small a market to warrant more than a few token diesels.

      The rest of the car buyers in the US aren’t the problem with why these diesels aren’t being made

      Then explain why New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Maine, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, Vermont, New Mexico, Oregon, Washington, Maryland and Florida (and I think there’s a few more) all elected governments that chose to follow CARB regs.  The buyers in the parts of the country that buy the most cars have voted for people who put cleaner air higher up the agenda that diesel engines.

      You, the diesel enthusiast, are the minority.  You are being marginalized, not by bureaucrats from a land far away, but by other citizens who hold different values than you.  Welcome to democracy, enjoy your stay.**

      There are options open to you: the easiest would be if people in non-CARB states would buy more cars.  Since non-CARB states are generally lower-income and lower-population, this isn’t likely.  You could also try and challenge CARB and/or the Clean Air Act in court, but I believe that’s been tried and the states are allowed to set their own emissions regulations and are suing to include greenhouse gases as well as toxins and particulates.

      ** Believe me, I feel the way you do on several other issues.  Just not this one.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    If Volkswagen can federalize it, would it tickle your fancy…?
     
    Sure, but the trick isn’t so much getting it federalized as it’s getting buyers for the car.  Volkswagen is having enough trouble making money on the existing Passat (and Jetta), so much so that they’ve developed a Passat Lite for North American consumption.  Getting Americans to cough up the premium for a diesel en masse, on top of VW’s existing premium, is not at all likely.
     
    The problem isn’t CARB, not anymore.  It’s VW’s cost structure.

  • avatar
    gslippy

    They’re lucky it went 1500 miles without breaking down from electrical failure.  No, I couldn’t be tempted.
     
    Besides, in the US that car would be $32k+.  I’d rather have a reliable car that costs less.

    • 0 avatar
      mpresley

      This is really a moronic comment.  Sorry to be so blunt, and sorry to disabuse you, but VW is about par for the course in the reliability dept, at least the current product.  Everyone has a story about a VW they owned 15-20 years ago that was bad.  But, then again, everyone everywhere has had a bad car regardless of make.  VWs past problems haunt them, but the current product is not bad.

    • 0 avatar
      Disaster

      Agreed.  Any savings in fuel will be lost in maintenance.  This isn’t a diesel issue as much as a VW issue.

    • 0 avatar
      vento97

      > They’re lucky it went 1500 miles without breaking down from electrical failure.  No, I couldn’t be tempted.
       
      Methinks you haven’t actually owned a VW – but are only parroting what you have read about them…

    • 0 avatar
      Ozzy Modo

      Just checked reliability charts for VW Passat.  They’re still horrible. Every year other than 2009 are less reliable than average. I owned one and loved the way it handled in between repairs, but would never hand VWoA another penny.  There are so many reliable cars that are fun, why would anybody intentionally buy one of the worst products on the market?

    • 0 avatar
      gslippy

      @mpresley, vento97:
       
      My 02 Passat had at least 12 unscheduled visits to the dealer in its first 3 years (bought new), about half of them related to the electrical system.
       
      That car is not so far removed from what VW is building today, and it will be a very long time before I trust a VW product again.  I’d put them in the same category as Fiat for reliability.
       
      Before VW can succeed in its plans for world domination – particularly in the US – they need to “do a Hyundai” and convince people their cars are worth buying.

  • avatar
    Contrarian

    A larger car with a turbodiesel, like an A6/8 or 5/7 series will easily save $5K in fuel over a 100k mile lifetime. I’ll gladly pay the premium for the oil burner.

    It’s not just a VW issue, it’s political one and sadly we’re on the losing end.

  • avatar
    william442

     NO!
    If youhave time, I will tell you about the disaster our MB ML320 was.

  • avatar
    dswilly

    A friend has a mid 90′s Passat diesel. He tells me they can go 1200+ on a tank. Is it true?

    • 0 avatar
      Kevin Jaeger

      I think 1200 KM is possible on a tank(highway km), but 1200 miles would require some extreme hypermiling conditions.  it should be noted that even the 1.8 turbo gasoline engines get excellent highway fuel economy – these cars are VERY aerodynamic.

  • avatar
    benzaholic

    UK versions, according to http://www.volkswagen.co.uk/#/new/passat-saloon/which-model/engines/acceleration, this particular model is rated at 105HP, 185 ft-lbs, and 0-62MPH in 12.4 seconds.
    On the plus side, it’s only available with the manual transmission.
    Now the 2 liter TDI gets that 0-62 run down to 9.8 seconds, but at a cost of over 20% on fuel economy, and that larger engine is available with the DSG auto tranny, but that’ll cost you roughly another 10% on fuel.
    US diesel fans, including me, are losing out. While we’ve been picking at the few meager bones thrown to us by the German brands, gas engines have become much more efficient, especially with direct injection. Modern diesels are also just as complex as modern gassers, and just as unsupportive of DIY repairs. I’m afraid that it would take miraculous numbers like 60 or 70 EPA MPG, with 0-60 below 9 seconds, before wide swaths of US consumers will buy diesels, and that just ain’t happening.
    Reminds me of the smart brand. If those got 60 or 70MPG with the current performance, quite a few more people would have taken the time to learn how to manage that transmission.
     

    • 0 avatar
      Extra Credit

      Interesting to see the DSG transmission reduces fuel economy over the manual in the UK.   According to Natural Resources Canada, the DSG equipped Volkswagens sold in Canada deliver the same City fuel consumption as a manual transmission, while the Highway mileage is rated (marginally) better than the manual transmission.
      http://oee.nrcan.gc.ca/transportation/tools/fuelratings/ratings-results.cfm

      I wonder if the difference betwen the two countries’ results is mechanical based (different gearing) or method based (different testing).  Any ideas?

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      European and UK fuel economy tests are very different from EPA.  The Prius, for example, gets 72mpg combined on the European regimen.

  • avatar
    stevelovescars

    I’m not quite sure you can still blame California, CARB regs now do allow Diesel engine cars in the state.  Though, we did have to go without TDIs from VW for a few years while they were sold in other parts of the country. 

    The holdup was heavy lobbying by the heavy truck industry that delayed the change to low-sulfer Diesel fuel, which in turn allowed us to have some the latest “cleaner” Diesel engine technology from Europe.  I do see the joke in having CARB regulate away Diesel passenger cars for a while while heavy trucks (which contribute a lot more to total emissions than the few thousand Diesel cars that might have been sold) were completely unregulated… but I digress.

    In terms of demand, if it’s any indication, a lot of independent dealers were making strong profits importing TDI cars and SUVs from VW from other states.  As long as the cars had more than 7,500 miles on them they could be registered by a CA resident regardless of their original emissions compliance.

  • avatar
    xyzzy

    I’m surprised no one has mentioned the market differences between the U.S. and Europe for diesel fuel.  In Europe, diesel gets preferential tax treatment that it doesn’t get here. Here, diesel is more expensive than gasoline.  During the wintertime, when oil that’s much closer to being diesel than being gasoline is being used for home heating in northern climes, diesel can get WAY more expensive than gasoline.   I keep a cost per mile spreadsheet for all my cars and for possible purchases, and update it for changing market prices for fuel, and when you factor in that diesel costs more per gallon, the payoff for the extra mpg isn’t as good as it sounds when just looking at mpg numbers.

    Diesel may look good in the short term, but general market conditions do not favor diesel.  You can’t just reconfigure refineries to change the percentage of diesel that comes from a barrel of oil, this is intrinsic to their design so there isn’t much room to increase the supply of diesel without building a bunch of new refineries at $1 billion+ a pop, not to mention overcoming NIMBY opposition.  In fact a lot of the gasoline burned in the U.S. is imported from Europe where it’s in relative surplus because of this fixed mix compared to Europe’s relatively high demand for diesel vs. gasoline.  Because it’s used all over the world in so many applications and the mix you get out of a barrel of oil is relatively inflexible, the diesel market is actually tighter worldwide than gasoline and if it caught on in the U.S., there would quickly be a severe supply crunch and diesel would get even more expensive than it already is here, and probably also worldwide.   In short we as a country benefit significantly from being a mainly gasoline market for auto fuels.

    Because of this, it’s also actually better for diesel enthusiasts worldwide that diesel automobiles are a relatively niche market here.

    • 0 avatar
      wallstreet

      It depends on how you view the cost of diesel versus gasoline. If you are torn between 335d & 335i, then you might as well choose 335d. It is because BMW recommend using premium petrol on all their vehicles. In my neck of the wood, diesel is $0.02 cheaper than 97 octane. In addition, 335d is 30% more fuel efficient than its gasoline counterpart.

    • 0 avatar
      RogerB34

      For Wallstreet:
      There is a difference between Required and Recommended fuel.
      Recommended is for manufacturer performance.  The engine control module will adjust for regular fuel and it won’t damage the engine.

    • 0 avatar
      xyzzy

      @wallstreet: where is your neck of the woods?  We don’t have 97 octane in the U.S., nor do we call it petrol.  In the U.S. the top grade of fuel is usually 93 octane and during the summer months diesel hovers around the same price as 93.  But in the winter, when home heating oil starts, diesel can shoot up well above the price of 93 octane.

  • avatar
    Eye Forget

    Great timing.  I just rented a Golf Blue-E-Motion for a month (Europe).  The first drive was after we got off the plane and it was highway all the way.  41 mpg.  The rest of the trip was about 70% highway and 30% suburban.  31 mpg.  For this “economy” we were saddled with one of the slowest cars I have ever driven, awful brakes, lousy clutch, insensitive steering, noisy and typical VW handling where the front end reacts first in a turn only to be followed later by the rear-end setting.
    I get 27 mpg on our 530 on the highway and about 23 mpg with mixed.  I get a fantastic car, infinitely more reliable than a VW product, enough resale value to compensate for the price disparity and a car I can bring to my mechanic and have him work on it (as opposed to Audi/VW which many good shops simply won’t work on as they cost more to fix than they’re worth).
     

  • avatar
    bumpy ii

    “The irony is that cars like the Passat Bluemotion are well suited to American driving styles.”

    Yes and no.

    Diesel cars are best suited for long highway runs. In the US, people who do that most often live in areas with low populations and low median wages, where a diesel Passat costs about a year’s salary and VW dealers are far away.

    People who live near VW dealers and can more easily afford a diesel Passat are in urban and suburban areas with higher populations and little opportunity for long highway runs, and these are most often in states that follow CARB emission standards.

    The diesel car that would be best-suited to the US would be a Malibu or Fusion that sold for $18k. GM and Ford aren’t even selling the gas models for that little, so this will not happen.

    • 0 avatar
      Educator(of teachers)Dan

      Absolutely true.  If the GM diesels had not had such a horrible reputation my father likely would have picked one up used for long distance driving.  My parents live in a very rural part of Ohio and the nearest population centers are 1/2 hour to 3/4 an hour away.  They enjoy taking vacations in which they drive sometimes thousands of miles instead of flying.  A diesel would be great for them but my father has also never spent more than about $12,000 on a vehicle.


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