The Passat, despite being an estate model with an absolutely enormous boot, leaves the 75 standing with its powerful 1.8T 20V petrol engine, which makes the dash from 0-60mph in 9.2 seconds, and has a top speed of 137mph.
What a treat it was to be back in a petrol-engined car! In that respect I have to stand up for this model, which suffered mightily at the pen of Ashley Martin. He favoured the 130bhp 1.9 TDi diesel unit and said it was a more sensible choice for fleets with its average fuel consumption of 51.5mpg.
Since our last report, the CAP Monitor predicted residual value over three years/60,000 miles for the petrol car has increased to £6,475/36 per cent. And with carbon dioxide emissions of just 206g/km the Passat 1.8T 20V SE won't burn a hole in the company car driver's pocket when the emission-based company car tax system is introduced in April 2002. A 22 per cent taxpayer, driving between 2,500 and 18,000 business miles a year, will see his or her current tax bill of £999 a year decrease to £919 under the new system. A 40 per cent taxpayer covering the same mileage will save £145 in 2002 compared to his or her existing bill of £1,816.
Coupled with running costs of 31.5 pence per mile over three years/60,000 miles - a total of £18,900 over 60,000 miles - the 1.8T Passat more than holds its own when compared to its rivals.
The remodelled Passat certainly looks the part and our test car's roof bars and striking alloy wheels set it off a treat. There's a good dose of chrome on the exterior, adding to the classy looks, although a strip on one of the passenger doors annoyingly keeps working itself loose.
Inside, the predominantly dark grey/black interior is a little dull, showing up all the dust and muck that naturally gathers. That aside, it is well designed with plenty of room for five people and an incredible capacity for luggage. And like other road testers, I have been wowed by the striking electric blue and red dash display at night.
Driving the Passat has been a pleasurable experience, whether on my way to work and back or on the various motorway trips I have undertaken.
It is extremely comfortable to drive and you soon forget about the cavernous passenger and luggage areas behind you - thanks mainly to that eager petrol powerplant.
Visibility is excellent all round, particularly through the rear window, which really helps make on-street and shopping centre parking easy.
If I had to choose an estate the Passat it would have to be near the top of my wish list.