Fleet News

Volkswagen Passat 1.9 TDI



Under that old Passat spell

You may call me shallow, but I like things to look good: the interior décor of my house, the position of the pots on my patio and even the back copies folders of Fleet News in the office must be stacked neatly and in date order.

Everything has to be aesthetically pleasing, so I was overjoyed when I had our very sexy BMW 320d one weekend, allowing me to do my best footballer's wife impression on the Saturday afternoon.

I also cast an envious glance at the starry array of test cars outside Fleet Towers each morning. A beautiful Nissan 350Z and an A4 Cabriolet caught my eye earlier. I love eye candy cars.

So why, I ask myself, am I so taken with our sober, dark green, rather anonymous, long- term Volkswagen Passat?

For a start, the Passat is very comfortable, mainly thanks to its many seating and steering wheel positions, heated leather seats – ideal for warming your behind during a cold and miserable 90 minutes when my other half's team is losing 4-0.

It is also well-specced with electric windows, central locking (which has a door-mounted illuminated button that's easily accessible when it is dark unlike the long term Focus I had) and air conditioning.

But all these things come as standard with most upper medium cars these days. So what makes me enjoy the Passat so much?

The reason is that driving the Passat is stress-free. I like to be able to overtake and nip through traffic and the responsive 130bhp engine and light, direct gear shift makes this possible.

On short or long journeys it's a pure a pleasure to drive, taking everything in its stride with so little effort, which in turn relaxes me. It's a kerfuffle-free experience.

The all-round visibility is excellent, the steering is as light as a feather and it never feels like I'm driving a big car.

It also has a great stereo that is simply fed with six CDs into the dash, meaning there's no fiddly cartridges to load in the boot or under your seat.

At the outset, I think I was a little hard on its bland looks. It's far from ugly: just a little understated, although the alloy wheels and wing mirror indicators give it a little extra presence.

But as Joni Mitchell said: 'You don't know what you've got till it's gone'. I had to hand over the Passat to accommodate another car for a couple of days and suddenly realised I had fallen into the old trap of taking the good things for granted – the new car had no oomph, no nip and no heated leather seats.

The Passat had me well and truly under its spell and I was glad to get it back. You can keep your weekend flings with handsome BMWs. I'm with the trusty Passat for the long haul.

Company car tax bill 2004/05 (22% tax-payer)

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