Fleet News

Volkswagen Passat 2.0 Sport - 6,947 miles



AS a motoring journalist, there is a little dark squalid part of my brain that does a demonic jig when something goes wrong with a car. It gives me something unusual to write about: an opportunity to saddle up that high horse and get the soapbox out from under the stairs.

But Dobbin has been safely tucked away in the stables over the past couple of weeks because I have been driving our long-term Passat. So do not expect entertaining stories about how the front left wheel rolled off into a field, or how the seat heaters went berserk and melted my pants.

The Passat has been utterly predictable in every possible way, which might make my life as a writer more difficult, but would make the average fleet operator or driver's life a very simple and happy one indeed.

I've been surprised how the 2.0-litre engine manages to pull the car along. It might be the least powerful engine in the Passat range but with a liberal amount of right foot, it does not feel as sluggish as you might expect.

As always, the seating and steering wheel position are faultless, everything falls to hand neatly and the blue dashboard lighting is very restful on long journeys.

Also, the winter pack has proved very useful. The heated seats hold the distinction of being the second hottest I have experienced (after our old long term Astra Convertible) and are proving especially comforting before the air conditioning gets up to full speed each morning.

However, the gearbox and I are about to have a falling out. It is so clonky going up and down through the gears – and particularly dropping back from third to second – that it makes smooth driving very difficult.

I have had to resort to heel-toeing – blipping the throttle while braking and downshifting – to try and smooth the change out and it's a technique you really should only need in performance cars, not the average family saloon.

But all other operations in the car happen in that wonderfully measured yet solid manner you come to expect from Volkswagen. The 2.0-litre Passat is not going to set the world alight. In fact, I'd have a Mondeo or Mazda6 if driving enjoyment was the number one priority. But as an upper-medium car that delivers consistently in terms of engineering, comfort and dependability time and time again, it is very hard to beat.

Company car tax bill 2002 (22% taxpayer): £72.19 per month

CO2 emissions and fuel consumption data correct at time of writing. The latest figures are available in the Fleet News fuel cost calculator and the company car tax calculator.

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