Fleet News

Volkswagen Passat 1.9 TDI 130 Highline



SUBLIME, supreme comfort, stress-free, effortless cruising, flexible, powerful acceleration, impressive economy.

These are just a few of the glowing descriptives chosen at random from earlier long-term reports of our Passat 1.9 TDI 130 Highline that is now, sadly, back with Volkswagen.

And can I add faultless build quality; the lightning-fast gear change and that pleasingly solid thud of its doors?

Or the very comfortable and amply-proportioned leather upholstered seats with lumber and height adjustment for those up front.

I can’t grumble about the lack of equipment or quality which was, and pardon the cliché, more than skin deep.

In its present incarnation the Passat is now some three and a half years old, with a replacement due next year. And it’s a testament to the Passat’s ability that it is still an equal to the best in class, even among the more recently introduced competition, in all but a few areas.

After an all too short 1,900 miles with the Passat I have precious little to report in the way of faults, and certainly nothing in the way of dramas or breakdowns.

Unlike some of our other long-termers, this one has been through finishing school.

I did have to top up the sump with a half-litre of oil at 8,000 miles and precisely 1,000 miles later the sunroof rubber seal became partially detached along its leading edge. The resulting whistling noise took me two days to locate and two minutes to fix. I’d never even opened the sunroof!

Driving the Passat has been a delight. And with the modern turbodiesel engine now so unrecognisably linked to its rattling, smoky and painfully slow predecessor, it was no chore at all for the 1.9-litre pumpe düse unit neatly tucked under the bonnet.

You’ll already know it produces 130bhp and a very useful 210lb-ft of torque at a low 1,900 rpm. All that low-end torque instilled the Passat with so much flexibility and ‘lazy’, but muscular, performance that it was a real eye-opener if, like me, you have a biking background where all forward motion is governed by revs, more revs, cog-swapping and even more revs.

After my very first drive I pigeonholed the Passat as a ‘main road cruiser’. Smooth and cosseting on even blacktop. Less composed on winding B-roads. The steering felt lifeless with a tendency to understeer too much. Low tyre pressures were the culprit. Not excessively so, but enough to dullen the Dunlop SP Sport 2000’s responses. A quick session with the tyre pump – and it was transformed.

I didn’t get the opportunity to test the Passat’s luggage-carrying capacity. Our car’s ill-timed return to VW cheated the Passat out of a fully-laden run up to Skye. But I can vouch for the car’s passenger-carrying capabilities and long-load flexibility with rear seat backs down on numerous weekend visits to Wickes.

‘Real-world’ fuel consumption over the entire test was a creditable 43.8mpg, with 42.8mpg averaged over my 1,900-mile stint, although longer motorway runs showed improvements on the trip computer.

Other than the £150 (+ VAT) early in the life of our Passat for paint repair (Flying Colours by Dent Wizard), the only other item of expenditure has been for a 1-litre top-up can of motor oil at £7.49. Not bad for 9,725 miles of motoring.

Fact file

Price (OTR) £17,850
Total mileage 9,275
CO2 emissions (g/km) 154
Company car tax bill 2004/05 (22% tax-payer) £65 per month
Insurance group 12
Power (bhp/rpm) 130/4,000
Torque (lb-ft/rpm) 210/1,900
Combined mpg 48.7
Test mpg 42.8
CAP Monitor residual value £5,750/33%
HSBC contract hire rate £364 per month
Final expenditure £150 plus VAT – paint repair £7.49 – oil top-up

  • Figures based on three-years/60,000-miles


    Standard equipment

  • Climate control air conditioning
  • ABS with brake assist and EBD
  • Curtain airbags
  • CD autochanger - dash mounted
  • Driver, passenger and side airbags
  • Driver’s seat height adjust
  • Four electric windows
  • Leather upholstery
  • Electronic stabilisation programme
  • Heated front seats
  • Radio/cassette
  • Split folding rear seat backrests
  • 15-inch alloys
  • Electrically heated and adjustable mirrors

    Optional equipment

  • Metallic paint (£335)

    What the team thinks ...

    I’ve got to be candid here – for something that looks relatively dull, it couldn’t have impressed me more in terms of performance, comfort, quality, fuel economy and interior space.
    Sandie Hurford

    The Passat Highline model offers all the right kit for a surprisingly good price – leather, in-dash CD autochanger, electric sunroof. The Passat’s RVs are good and the 1.9 TDI is a great engine for performance and fuel economy. Quality is still as good as anything else in the sector three and a half years on. We hear the new Passat is due in 2005, although the current model still stands up to comparison in its twilight years.
    Simon Harris

    I warmed to the Passat after a slow start, though I was a little put off by its plain styling. However, chrome highlights help reinforce its upmarket appeal in the sector. Two months on, other cars I have driven struggle to match its combination of quality, performance, economy and low running costs.
    Kate Batchelor

  • 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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