GOOD news - some vim and vigour has been restored to our Passat.
The remapped electronics mentioned last month are behaving and that fourth-gear acceleration flat spot and a tendency to stall when moving away at the lights also seem to have cured themselves.
But countering that good news is an annoying, and what I can best describe as a ‘zizzing’ noise from somewhere behind the dashboard when the engine is running at 1,500-1,800rpm. I suspected the CD autochanger – it’s mounted on a hinge-down platform in the glovebox where the owner’s manual would normally be. Not guilty, though.
This isn’t an isolated case. I’ve spoken to other owners – even those without the glovebox-mounted autochanger in their Passats – and the problem is still there.
It isn’t all doom and gloom though because I absolutely love driving the Passat – especially when it’s dark.
No, I haven’t suddenly developed an aversion to being seen in the car – far from it, it’s a fine-looking beast, especially as its Mocha Anthracite pearl-effect paintwork and upgraded 17-inch Westwood alloy wheels pump up the Passat’s on-the-road gravitas.
Nor is it to do with not being a fan of the naff, real or otherwise wood-trimmed dashboard (it can’t be seen in the dark).
No, my nocturnal driving pleasure stems from the car’s amazing warm, red-hued instrument lighting and the optional Bi-Xenon ‘dynamic cornering’ headlights.
When cornering or indicating for a turn, the outermost headlight unit on the inside of the bend casts its beam laterally to the inside to illuminate more of the road and less of the hedgerow.
I live in rural Lincolnshire, where we still have narrow, winding lanes barely wide enough for two cars, with hedgerows on either side, so anything that better illuminates the road has got to be a useful bit of safety kit, despite costing a princely £795.
However, the option pack does include high-pressure washers and automatic beam adjustment to soften the blow.
I was initially sceptical of the Passat’s button-operated electric parking brake and the optional Auto Hold device fitted to our road test car, but within a few days the whole procedure became second nature.
The system’s one annoying aspect – as mentioned in John Maslen’s report on our Passat – is that the ‘AutoHold’ needs to be re-activated whenever the engine is switched on again.
As the Passat’s TDI engine continues to loosen up so its economy seems to improve – my initial 38mpg has now increased to 43mpg, giving a potential 662 miles between fill-ups.
A cautionary footnote – motorway cruising is the Passat’s forte: high gearing and a hushed engine and an absence of wind and tyre noise make it far too easy to unintentionally creep past the national speed limit, with dire consequences.
As Homer (Simpson) would say – ‘Doh’!
Price: £18,730 (as tested £25,050 ex-VAT)
CO2 emissions (g/km): 159
Company car tax bill (2006) 22% tax-payer: £71 per month
Combined mpg: 47.1
Test mpg: 41
CAP Monitor RV: £6,550/35%
Contract hire rate £375
Expenditure to date: Nil
Figures based on three years/60,000 miles