Scirocco? Polo? Up!? Nope. An interview with VW of America’s VP of Marketing and Strategy reveals that you’ll have to keep waiting for any of those products. (Read More…)
Sometimes it all comes together, doesn’t it — right before it all falls apart. Lightning in a bottle. Never as good before, never to be equaled afterwards. Duane Allman crashes his motorcycle, the sunburst Les Paul yields to the “Les Paul SG”, the perfected Honda VFR800 Interceptor is replaced by something that looks like the Nostromo’s escape pod, the woman you desperately love goes desperately crazy and desperately calls your wife, that kind of stuff.
The family sedan, too, had its high-water mark, its ’59 ‘Burst, its At Fillmore East. The G.O.A.T. The Greatest Of All Time. Once in history, all the tides converged. The resulting car was fast, spacious, full-featured, affordable, safe, economical, gorgeous, desirable. Hmm. We’re missing one quality, aren’t we? We’ll get to that later.
Ladies and gentlemen, meet the G.O.A.T.: the 1998 Volkswagen Passat GLS 1.8t five-speed manual. Yes, I had one.
Volkswagen’s “premium” image in the minds of car enthusiasts is not entirely accurate. From the Beetle to the Rabbit, VW has a long history of making budget cars for the masses. While the automotive press lauded the high-rent interiors and Audi-sourced parts, the Touraeg and Phaeton were mere detours on the road to brand identity. Shoppers wanted a “people’s” VW again, and the result of this outcry is the 2012 VW Passat SEL.
TTAC has long held that reviews of press cars made available by manufacturers at launches and press fleets must be complimented by reviews of vehicles acquired from dealer lots. It’s been a controversial position at times, and I’ve had to do battle with OEMs as recently as a few months ago to explain why dealer car impressions matter. Today, Consumer Reports is proving the point by revealing
When VW dropped off an early media car this summer, I remember looking at the trunk and saying to myself “well, at least both of the cheap hinges are dressed up with plastic covers, unlike the Jetta, which just has plastic on the side with the wiring.” As you can see in these two photos from Car & Driver and Edmunds it appears that the Passats in VW’s press fleet have covers on the hinges.
But not that Passat you just bought. No, your new Passat isn’t as nicely finished as the press version.
Like all the vehicles we put through testing, Consumer Reports buys retail samples at a car dealership. I personally purchased the Passat TDI we’re testing. (We also bought a 2.5 SE and a 3.6 SEL Premium.) As you can see in our images, none of the Passats have the two plastic covers found on the press cars. Consumers apparently only get a cover for the wiring loom hinge; the other one goes bare.
Interestingly, we had a somewhat similar issue with VW when a Passat press car proved to be equipped in a spec that is not actually available at dealerships (V6 with 17-inch wheels). When we noticed the discrepancy (and by we, I mean Michael Karesh, of course), we asked VW how we had received a non-representative model, to which they replied that press fleet vehicles were “early builds” from the new Nashville plant, and therefore not necessarily in market-ready spec. Which is a reason, but not an excuse: the media can only serve consumers well if we’re given representative cars to review. So, while these discrepancies are all relatively minor, details matter when you’re spending upwards of $20k on something. Hopefully VW and the rest of the industry will learn from this experience and make greater efforts to equip their media cars exactly to dealer spec. One also hopes that Motor Trend has driven at least one Passat that’s not from a press fleet…
One of my first jobs as a rookie copywriter in 1973 was the Passat. The Passat, basically a rebadged Audi 80, was the first of the new generation (Passat, Scirocco, Golf, Polo) that saved Volkswagen from eternal damnation and laid the groundwork for Volkswagen’s success today. (See, rebadging isn’t all that bad, it just has to be done right.) Ever since, well over 15 million Passat were built in all shapes and forms. And now, the Passat goes crossover.
First, the name: Passat Alltrack. (Read More…)
With the Passat moving from a poor-selling but Euro-premium sedan to a cheaper, more mass-market design, it was inevitable that the Passat CC “four door coupe” version would change as well. Unfortunately, in order to make it more similar to the new “Das Impala”-style Passat, VW had to really tone down the design. So much so, that you almost have to wonder who is going to buy this car on style alone… which is the whole point of having a “four door coupe” version of a sedan. But hey, at least it won’t be outselling the Passat anymore, as it has for much of the last several years. Mission accomplished?
When Volkswagen finally decided to try this newfangled water-cooled engine idea, their first effort was the Audi 80-derived Passat. In North America, this car was badged as a Dasher, and it didn’t exactly break any sales records. Prior to finding this example in a Denver junkyard earlier in the week, I hadn’t seen a Dasher for at least a decade. (Read More…)
After a mere six decades of testing the waters, Volkswagen decided to get serious about the American car market. For the second time. To avoid a repeat of the Westmoreland debacle, this time they’ve designed a pair of sedans specifically for American tastes. They’re also building the larger of the two, intended to lure Americans away from their Camcords, in an entirely new, non-unionized American plant. And so, with the new 2012 Volkwagen Passat, tested here in V6 SE form (earlier, briefer drives sampled the other two engines), we learn what Americans really want—as seen through a German company’s eyes.
When I was still working for Volkswagen, I blatantly picked up the delegations from Wolfsburg in my Eddie Bauer Expedition when they arrived at JFK. The higher paygrades were already used to it. The lower paygrades inevitably asked: “Why don’t you drive a Touareg?” While bouncing down the Van Wyck, I inevitably shouted “Silence in the third row! The Touareg doesn’t even have a third row. If I had a Touareg, you’d be sitting in a taxi.”
Soon I’d run out of excuses: If Germany’s AUTO BILD and the DetN are correctly informed, then Volkswagen will get a big SUV – big enough for Americans, even for those with a smaller wallet. (Read More…)
Last Monday’s review of the new 2012 Volkswagen Passat 2.5 SE found the large, value-priced German sedan to be roomy but unpolished. Today: the TDI in SEL Premium trim. In this form the “from $19,995*” new Passat gets a bit far from the segment’s mid-twenties sweet spot, with a list price of $32,965. But perhaps the turbodiesel engine and top-of-the-line interior transform the car?
Volkswagen intends to become the world’s largest auto maker. Selling far more cars in the United States would accomplish this goal. Euro-spec cars haven’t been doing the trick, as too few Americans have been willing to pay the resulting semi-premium prices. So VW engineered a new Jetta compact sedan and a new Passat midsize sedan specifically for American tastes and budgets. Confident of the latter’s success, they’ve even constructed an all-new factory in Chattanooga, TN, to assemble it. Should the UAW’s latest targets expect to be working overtime? Today’s review evaluates the 2.5-liter five-cylinder gas Passat in SE trim, while Wednesday’s will compare the 2.0-liter turbodiesel in SEL Premium trim.
I am sure you get this all of the time…my apologies in advance. I am replacing my VW Passat 2003 GLS. It was fun to drive, but had its issues as we all know. No sludge thank goodness. Several leaks! I would like a car that is comparable in drivability, (I have a manual but will buy an auto this time), but better in reliability, and perhaps greener. Tell me what to buy please! I have read the reviews, but they are all over the place….I wish you had a favorites list! Thank you.
Towards the end of the year, we may be in the market for a minivan (Honda Odyssey… this is not the advice I’m looking for, but feel free to weigh in). We have two cars we own outright: 2004 Toyota 4Runner and a 2006 VW Passat with 75K and 65K miles on them, respectively.
Both are in good working order, no issues other than the sign of age. Both have V6 engines.
Question: which one to trade in? I figure they are both worth about $10k trade in based on KBB, with the VW potentially worth marginally more (I could be wrong there). I’m leaning towards trading in the VW since it will depreciate faster and is more likely to have issues as it continues to age and wear.
What are your thoughts (now being greedy)…on both the trade-in AND the minivan choice?
I’m a 35 year old physician with wife and 2 kids, who has happily made do with a succession of automatic VW Passat wagons, first a chipped 2000 and now a 2010 I use to reverse commute out of my large metro region. We’ll be moving to the oceanfront suburb of a small New England city this summer and I’ve got to select car #2. My commute will by short and pokey–7 miles each way, some of it along beautiful marshland and ocean, some of it not. Long haul family trips can be done in the Passat, but the second car should safely carry the kids in a pinch. Budget is 30-35k max. I’ve been thinking new v6 mustang convertible, but then again, is it time to invest in the future and, say, lease a volt? Or practical, comfortable fun in a new GTI/Golf TDI? Revisit a heavily depreciated bug convertible we used to love despite it’s crude underpinnings and tight back seat? Or take advantage of some older interesting vehicles–S4 cabriolet, 3 series convertible, or something I’m too boring to have considered?
Steve Answers: (Read More…)
In conclusion of today’s Volkswagen-heavy fare, a peek into the future of Volkswagen’s most boring, but nonetheless highly successful car: The Passat.
Germany’s Auto Bild thinks it knows what the 8th generation Passat will look like when it hits the showrooms sometime in 2014. While their renderings most likely don’t reveal the exact likeness of the future Passat, Auto Bild’s Passat companion story probably has more than a few grains of truth. (Read More…)