Road Test: Volkswagen Passat Executive Style 1.4 TSI 160PS
Sector: Upper Medium Price: £23,045 Fuel: 45.6mpg CO2: 144g/km
After nine years, one facelift and a rapidly changing fleet landscape, Volkswagen is about to call time on the sixth generation Passat, and has taken the covers off its replacement. But that doesn’t mean the outgoing car isn’t worth a look.
The facelift in 2010 did such an effective job of updating the saloon to match the latest cars in the range, that it still looks current today. Engines are still fairly competitive, interior and luggage space are both generous, and the design and feel of the cabin hasn’t dated much. It’s a good package.
At the top of the run-out model range is a pair of Executive models, very much aimed at the fleet sector, and the Executive Style version tested here is the sportier of the two. It wears the bodykit, LED-lined headlamps and split-spoke wheels from the discontinued R-Line, and looks surprisingly sporty for a nameplate which has had few ventures into high performance during its 41-year lifespan.
Executive Style models can be ordered with most of the engine range, but petrol options kick off with the 1.4-litre 158bhp TSI turbo. It’s only £440 more than the significantly less powerful 1.6 TDI, and £2,105 less than the nearest equivalent 2.0-litre TDI, which is slightly slower on paper.
Volkswagen hasn’t fitted an engine this small to the Passat since the first-generation car of 1981. While a tiny petrol engine in a large saloon car may sound unappealing, it’s the most entertaining powertrain that the Passat has to offer. Rather than huge turbo lag, peak torque kicks in at 1,500rpm and this supermini-sized four-cylinder can haul the family car to 62mph in 8.5 seconds from rest.
It means it’s easy enough to put the Passat into sixth gear and waft along at motorway speeds, free of any diesel clatter and without noticing its lack of capacity. Although diesel is still the fuel of choice for all-week motorway cars, Volkswagen claims 45.6mpg for the petrol and it’s easy to see around 40mpg on a longer run. With the price difference against the diesels, BiK is almost neck and neck for the two cars.
Arguably there’s a limited market for a sporty Passat, a car which has traditionally satisfied very rational values. But this makes a convincing warm version, and looks different enough to the basic models to stand out.
Still a good looking and very practical car, the Executive Style adds a splash of excitement to Volkswagen’s hard-working saloon. There may be a newcomer en route, but the outgoing model still has plenty of merits.